Las Vegas is the boxing capital of the world, but getting there is often a long and arduous road. Take St. Petersburg's Winky Wright, for example. The middleweight contender fought for 13 years before getting his first fight in Vegas. From Tampa to Vegas, Wright hit all stops in between. Here's a look at his travels heading into Saturday night's bout against Ike Quartey at the St. Pete Times Forum:
Wright fought 12 times in Tampa as his career started out, beating Anthony Salerno in his 1990 debut and winning six straight times in the USF Sun Dome, five times at the Hyatt Regency and once in the Convention Center. His last fight here? July 30, 1992, against Carlos Santana at the Hyatt.
Miami area (4)
Wright fought twice in Hollywood and twice in Miami, the most significant fight being the first title defense of his IBF junior middleweight title over Jason Papillion in 2002 at the American Airlines Arena.
Wright fought twice in Orlando, including once at the Marriott World Center on the undercard of a Larry Holmes fight.
Punta Gorda (1)
Wright fought 15 of 16 fights in other countries from 1993-95. This return to Florida to knock out James Stokes was the lone exception.
On Jan. 2, 1993, in Differdange, Wright knocked down Darryl Lattimore three times in the first round to improve to 17-0 and kick off his overseas journey.
WBA champ Julio Cesar Vasquez was credited with five knockdowns in handing Wright his first loss.
Win over Leon Rouse gave Wright his first ranking.
Eric Holland lasted eight rounds with Wright but came out on the short end.
The Club Caja Popular sounds like fun, but not for Ernesto Sena, who couldn't answer the bell for round three.
Wright captures the biggest title of his career in 2001 by beating Robert Frazier for the vacant IBF junior middleweight title at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio.
Wright wins his first belt ever in 1996, beating Andrew Council for the NABF strap.
At Glen Stock Arena in Monroe in 1996, Wright beats hometown hero Bronco McKart on ESPN to capture the WBO title, his first major belt.
Enormously popular here, Wright makes three successful defenses of his WBO belt.
South Africa (1)
A hugely disappointing turn of events as Wright fights Harry Simon to a draw, makes his way through debris tossed by fans, then sees the decision changed as he loses his belt.
Back in America, Wright makes a huge splash in 1999 by nearly beating Fernando Vargas in a fight many thought he won. Wright was so impressive he was ducked the next five years before Shane Mosley gave him his big shot.
West Virginia (1)
Wright beats McKart a second time at the only bout he ever fought at a horse track.
Former WBC junior middleweight Keith Mullings dropped a unanimous decision, and a fight later dropped out of boxing.
Las Vegas (5)
Home of Wright's most significant victories, beating Shane Mosley to unify the 154-pound division for the first time in 54 years, then stunningly shutting out Felix Trinidad for the most impressive victory of his career.
Wright may never want to go back to Memphis, where he drew with Jermain Taylor in June. Wright feels he was robbed by the judges, and just about every ringside observer and boxing pundit agrees.
Wright outclassed Sam Soliman in Uncasville despite being sick and almost pulling out of the fight.
John C. Cotey can be reached at (727) 869-6261 or email@example.com.