Winky” Wright and Paul “The Punisher” Williams want to beat each other up for their kids’ sake.
Wright tells me the legacy he’s working on is to make sure his kids can say he was a fearless victor who beat up this guy, and that one, and that one.
“I want people to say I was a fighter that was scared of nobody,” win or lose, he says, so his kids can hold their heads up high.
Williams — who faces off with Wright on Saturday at Mandalay Bay — tells me his goal is pretty much the same.
“My kids — they come out to the fight, and they’ve been telling everybody at school, ‘My daddy beat this guy, my daddy did this, my daddy’s gonna be fightin’ on TV,’ ” Williams says. “That motivates me even more, so they can look up to me.
“There’s gonna be some big fireworks in there” in the ring, Williams, 27, says. “I’m gonna be gunnin’ like I always do. (Fans) are not gonna spend their money and see no action. Don’t get no beer or no popcorn (during the main event), or you may miss it.”
Wright, 37 (full name: Ronald Lamont Wright), talks with just as much confidence, promising that after Saturday’s bout, “I’m coming right back” to the ring for another fight, whatever it may be, either for HBO or Pay-Per-View.
“We’re just gonna bulldoze everybody, just keep goin’,” Wright says.
‘PUT UP OR SHUT UP’
Williams has one clear advantage over Wright, his brutal nickname, The Punisher. How’d he come up with it?
“Me and my manager were coming back from Waffle House one day after a sparring match. He said, ‘You know, you’re gonna need a nickname.’ We were going over all kinds of names, and ‘The Punisher’ came up, and we kinda stuck with it.”
Winky’s nickname was given to him as a baby by a grandmother, then a ring announcer started using it, and that was that.
I want to be clear that Winky could kill me with one finger, and there’s nothing wrong with “Winky.” Wright loves the name. But if you think about it out of context, as I told Williams, it would look incongruous to see a headline declaring, “The Punisher beaten by Winky.” Williams laughed.
“Well, I’ll definitely try to hold to that, and not get beaten by Winky,” Williams says.
Despite their self-assurance, both Wright (from Florida by way of Washington, D.C.) and Williams (from South Carolina) are soft-spoken southpaws who speak with formal respect. Williams addresses me and other journalists as “sir,” as in, “Yes, sir” and “I’m doing fine, sir.”
Williams says he may say to himself about Wright that “I’m gonna murder him in the ring.”
“But outside the ring, I just meet him like a human being,” Williams says. “If you gotta say you’re the best and huff and puff, you really ain’t. My thing is: Prove it in the ring. My momma taught me a long time ago, ‘Talk is cheap, so put up or shut up.’ “
They’ve been training for months. Wright is “tired of waiting” for Saturday. When not training, he’s spent downtime with his family, going to the movies and playing golf, rather than doing Vegas nightclubs or other night life. (“I’m not a club person.”) Although, it’s harder to golf right before a bout.
“When I’m training and getting ready for a fight, it throws my golf swing off. I’m used to punching. And doing all the push-ups and pull-ups kind of throws off your swing.”
Williams spent last week on light training.
“We just go to the gym, do a little speed bag — no heavy training, just tuning up everything. All the hard stuff is gone and over with,” Williams says.
WINKY’S POTENTIAL VEGAS PLANS
Outside of boxing, The Punisher has been dabbling in real estate. He owns a pair of four-unit apartment buildings in South Carolina and two houses. The rotten economy hasn’t taken a toll on him.
“I’m not affected by it,” Williams says. “Everything’s looking good for me.”
Wright, meanwhile, is reportedly in business negotiations to spread something called New Poker in Las Vegas and possibly other gambling markets. He declines to talk about this, though, since there’s “more to accomplish” with the potential venture.
“I got involved with somethin’. I really don’t want to speak on that yet,” he says.
“I’m not a big poker player, but I know a lot of big poker players. I’m good. I can play. But I ain’t never played in the World Series of Poker yet. I may do that next year. They tell me every year I gotta play, but man, I ain’t got time for that.”
Wright is more forthcoming about why he helps an outfit called Urban Youth Racing School.
“It’s just helping kids learn about racing cars, and building cars, and that whole aspect of the racing industry. There’s a lot of money in that industry, and you don’t see too many urban kids, or African-American kids, in that industry. It’s primarily dominated by Caucasians.”
Winky got involved because he thought the school was a great idea to give kids another career outlet to consider, and that there are “ways out there to make money” in the world. Plus, his 13-year-old son loved racing go-karts.
“When they said my son could drive, it just got me more enthusiastic,” he says. “He’s ridden them. My daughter — she just turned 16, so she’s drivin’ now. They love playing racing cars, and driving.”
What’s more, I tell him, those kids he so dearly fights for ought to be safer if they’re driving with helmets on.
“Yeah!” he says and laughs. “Much safer.”
What do you think? Tell me at delfman@reviewjournal. com, or post your reviews and rants at reviewjournal.com/elfman. My column appears Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.Preview
Winky Wright vs. Paul Williams
Doors open at 2 p.m. Saturday
Mandalay Bay Events Center, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South