Wright's the fight Williams has been looking for

Updated: April 10, 2009, 9:12 AM ET

Gene Blevins -- Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

"It's Winky Wright in the flesh!" It's been a while but Wright is ready to make a reappearance Saturday.

Williams and Wright find each other

Winky Wright sure knows what Paul Williams is going through. From the mid-1990s until Shane Mosley finally gave him a shot in 2004, Winky Wright had a brutal time getting big-name opponents to step into the ring with him.

Well, Fernando Vargas did in 1999, but only because he had no choice. Wright was his mandatory challenger, and Vargas barely survived to claim the controversial decision in the junior middleweight title bout.

Wright was too good for his own good. He was not a huge TV star or a ticket seller with a rabid fan base, so if you faced him you were in serious jeopardy of losing without significant financial reward.

Williams, who holds an interim junior middleweight belt, is in a similar position. Immensely talented but unable to regularly lure the best in the business into the ring to fight him -- with the exception of Antonio Margarito, whom Williams edged in a 2007 welterweight title bout -- Williams has taken somewhat drastic measures.

He and his team swear that for the right fight, Williams will fight at welterweight, junior middleweight or middleweight. He would have stayed at welterweight had a top opponent been willing to fight him, but even Margarito turned down what would have been a career-high $4 million payday to face him in a rematch.

So name your weight and Williams is there.

Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs), looking to come back after a 21-month layoff, took Williams (36-1, 27 KOs), a two-time welterweight titleholder, up on his desire to fight a top name. Depending on whom you believe, Wright either turned down several notable fights, including bouts against Kelly Pavlik or a rematch with Jermain Taylor, or nobody would offer him a legitimate deal. Regardless, Wright is facing Williams, one of the few big names willing to do so.

"Winky is the most avoided man of the past decade because of what he's done in the ring. Paul is not avoided, but definitely feared and it's a big reason why we've moved across several weight divisions," Williams promoter Dan Goossen said. "This is a big fight and we are really concentrating on showing just how great Paul Williams is. This is the fight Paul wanted. What Winky's done in the last 10 years is remarkable. It's the big name that Paul has been looking for."

Winky Wright, Ike Quartey

Scott Foster / Fightwireimages.com

Now you see him, now you don't: Winky Wright's elusive style makes him a tough assignment for any fighter.

We'll see the result on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where Williams and Wright will meet in an important middleweight fight.

"Winky knows he's taking on a young and hungry fighter," said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who is working with Wright's promotional company on the event. "He knows it's a dangerous fight, but Winky has always taken on the best fighters."

"I'm just glad Winky gave me the opportunity to fight him," Williams said. "We go through the same thing. I know what he's going through. I'm just happy to get a fight."

Wright sees a bit of himself in Williams.

"No one wants to fight either one of us, so true champions fight one another," Wright said. "I could have taken an easier fight, get back and get a win, but we want to fight the best. When I fight I want to fight someone who is credible and who also has a chance to beat me. And he wants to prove himself, too, and he's willing to take chances and the opportunity to better himself. You have other fighters who aren't willing to fight a top fighter with a credible résumé. My whole career I wanted to fight the best. I'm proving it. I am putting my money where my mouth is. I wanted to fight one of the best and that's what I did."

It will be Wright's first fight since he lost a competitive decision in July 2007 to then-light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins at 170 pounds, well above Wright's usual fighting weight.

Williams, however, is not banking on Wright being rusty.

"You can't buy into that ring rust stuff," Williams said. "[Sugar Ray] Leonard came back [from a long layoff] and beat Marvin Hagler. I think he's been in training and working out. In a way it seems like he's been in training camp for two years. That's the way I look at it."

In the HBO opener, a significant heavyweight match, contender Cris Arreola (26-0, 23 KOs) steps up in competition against four-time title challenger Jameel McCline (39-9-3, 23 KOs), a physically imposing (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) gatekeeper and by far Arreola's best opponent.

The live fights are only one facet of HBO's big boxing night. The programming block, beginning at 8 p.m. ET, also features the debut of the documentary "Thrilla in Manila," which tells the story of the famed third fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier (told largely from Frazier's perspective), and the premier of the four-part "Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7," the reality series that will chronicle the training camps of junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao as the fighters get ready for their May 2 showdown.

Ortiz will still headline

Although Germany's Universum backed out of a verbal agreement for junior welterweight titlist Andreas Kotelnik to defend against reigning ESPN.com prospect of the year Victor Ortiz on June 27 in Los Angeles, in order to take a more lucrative offer for Kotelnik to go to England to defend against Amir Khan, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said his team isn't upset with Universum. He also said Ortiz will still fight an opponent to be determined that night in an HBO "Boxing After Dark" main event in Los Angeles.

"We agreed on terms and they said they would have to run it by their fighter," Schaefer told ESPN.com. "In the meantime, they got the offer from England, which was substantially better because of what the British television money was compared to HBO. I believe in empowering the fighters and if a fighter has a chance to make substantially more money, so be it. No hard feelings and life goes on."

The undercard of the Ortiz fight will feature a rematch of one of the year's best fights. Schaefer also said the Chris John-Rocky Juarez sequel has been finalized.

Victor Ortiz

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Andreas Kotelnik might be out of the running, but the show will still go on for Victor Ortiz.

"It's a done deal," he said.

Indonesia's John, in his American debut, retained his featherweight belt against Juarez on a draw (most felt John won) in an all-action fight Feb. 28.

Schaefer said although the Kotelnik-Ortiz deal didn't work out, he's still working with Universum to finalize a fight between junior middleweight titlist Sergei Dzindziruk and Golden Boy's James Kirkland for August on HBO. Kirkland, of course, must win a May 2 fight against Michael Walker on the Ricky Hatton-Manny Pacquiao undercard.

Schaefer said the Kirkland card, which likely will take place in Kirkland's native Texas, could also feature the return of Houston's Juan Diaz, who was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in a lightweight championship fight Feb. 28.

Another possibility for the Kirkland undercard is a lightweight bout between Michael Katsidis and Vicente Escobedo, both of whom won exciting fights on Golden Boy's "Lightweight Lightning" PPV card last week.

"HBO mentioned they like that fight, so I am going to see what I can do. It's a terrific fight, isn't it," Schaefer said.

Mormeck to heavyweight

Former cruiserweight champion Jean-Marc Mormeck (33-4, 22 KOs) is moving up to heavyweight. He hasn't fought since losing the world title to David Haye via seventh-round knockout in November 2007.

Mormeck, who had been linked to a possible fight with cruiserweight titlist Guillermo Jones, instead announced this week in his native France that he was going to heavyweight, where his aim is an eventual rematch with David Haye, who also moved up and will challenge unified titleholder Wladimir Klitschko on June 20.

Jean-Marc Mormeck

John Gichigi/Getty Images

Don't count him out just yet: Jean-Marc Mormeck plans to make a comeback as a heavyweight.

Mormeck, 36, who now has ties to Square Ring, Roy Jones' promotional company, could make his heavyweight debut in June in suburban Paris.

"I would love to have a rematch with him," Mormeck said of Haye in an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe. "I am aware of the impact of his punch, I am not crazy. But I have strong conviction that I can beat him. I am not issuing a challenge. What I plan to do is do things in the right way, achieve fights before I get to fight him again."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.


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QUICK HITS

Adamek

• Cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek, who rejected a lowball offer of $500,000 to defend the title against Bernard Hopkins this summer, might defend against Roy Jones this summer. Besides discussions with the handlers of ex-light heavyweight champ Glen Johnson, Adamek promoter Main Events is also talking to Jones about fighting, perhaps in mid-July on HBO. John Wirt, CEO of Jones' Square Ring, said it's a fight Jones would like. "Roy wants to fight Adamek. Adamek wants to fight Roy. So we are working on it and trying to make it happen this summer," Wirt told ESPN.com. "I think what Roy likes about the fight is that he's never won the cruiserweight title. He views Adamek as the real, legitimate cruiserweight champion. Winning that title would mean something because of Adamek's stature." Jones, 40, who rebounded from his lopsided November loss to Joe Calzaghe by stopping Omar Sheika in the fifth round on March 21, has won titles from middleweight to heavyweight with the exception of cruiserweight.

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Arslan

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