Bert Sugar (He's the guy with the cigar and the fedora) is a boxing icon. He was editor of Boxing Illustrated and Ring Magazine for years, has written more than 75 books on boxing and can be seen weekly on ESPN Classic breaking down the sport's greatest fights. In 2005, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Friday, he spoke with Times boxing writer John C. Cotey about tonight's Winky Wright-Ike Quartey fight, Jeff Lacy's comeback and the state of the game:
So, whattaya think of this fight? Significant? Just a stopgap on the way to bigger things for Winky Wright?
It's significant. Stopgap, yes, but another hurdle that he has to basically cover and clear. I mean, Winky is unappreciated by the fans and the judges. I think he won the fight against Jermain Taylor. The essence of winning a fight is imposing your will on the other man, and he did it more than Taylor did him.
Does Quartey present a threat?
I think he's a good opponent. I think he's going to have trouble, though. You would have as much trouble getting to Winky as you would opening an oyster with a butter knife. Winky is just impossible to get to.
Can he break through the defense? He is nicknamed Bazooka, after all.
He hits hard. But what does he hit if he just hits arm. Ike doesn't hit any harder than (Felix) Trinidad, who had no success at all. In fact, before the 12th round, I remember Trinidad's father and trainer saying, "Don't get hurt." That's what they were left with.
Ike says Winky stole his style.
There's similarities there, but what bothers me most about Quartey is he fights with all the frequency of Halley's comet. How much rust is going to come tumbling off? Quartey at his peak, and I don't think he's at his peak, was one hell of a fighter.
Does Wright-Taylor II have to happen?
If it doesn't, it would be a shame. But then again, Taylor, who is still growing both in skill, ability and weight, might be going up in class to 168.
Did Joe Calzaghe wreck Jeff Lacy for good? Isn't that really the most interesting fight of the night?
I do want to see what Lacy is made of. Both in his recuperative powers, but also, was that an anomaly or is that what we're going to see from here on in? I mean, the only time he scored is when Calzaghe was penalized for a hit behind the back.
Was Lacy exposed, or Joe just that good?
Both. But anyone whose nickname is Left Hook better have one.
What other juggernauts do you remember running into a wall?
Most recently, Michael Grant against Lennox Lewis. There's almost a ceiling there; you hit it and that's as far as you're going to go.
There seems to be such an emphasis on the perfect record. One loss does not a career make, but it's hard to tell sometimes.
But it isn't singular to boxing. It's our must-win society. Everyone must win. Even if you're fighting your sister 20 times, you have to have 20 decisions.
This card is being promoted by, in essence, boxers. What do you think of boxers as promoters?
Not much. But I don't think much of promoters as promoters.
Is boxing dying?
Boxing is cyclical. You need somebody to drive it in terms of a charismatic figure or flagship division like the heavyweight division. Since we have no charismatic figure or heavyweight division, it's down. If boxing were a stock I'd sell it short. All it needs is somebody. Boxing charitably is No. 11 on the top 10 list of sports. It's a niche sport. But it won't be if we get our heavyweight division back or a charismatic figure comes in.
Is there a savior on the horizon?
There's nobody out there like a Muhammad Ali, or of Sugar Ray Leonard or Roberto Duran's stripe right now.
Is Winky Wright a Hall of Famer?
Easily. If I'm in the Hall of Fame, he's in the Hall of Fame. Though I don't know if I was inducted or indicted.
Who would you like to see him fight next?
I'd like to see him fight Jermain Taylor, but if Floyd Mayweather continues to tell everyone how great he is and he can grow a couple pounds, why not Floyd?
But there's so so much going on in that middle area weight division. While we have a heavyweight division that is on the cusp of being called off on account of lack of interest, we got potential matchups all over the place and I love it. That's why I think this fight is so important.