Hopkins and Wright talking it up


Hopkins and Wright talking it up

As the country prepares to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, two of boxing's most "independent" fighters— Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins and Winky Wright—recall their most significant personal and professional moments of independence that have led them to their July 21 "Coming to Fight" light heavyweight championship battle at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, live on HBO Pay Per View.  

Bernard Hopkins : "Just like Sinatra, I've always done it my way."

Hopkins has always made it a point to demonstrate his independence. From his humble beginnings as a trouble-causing kid on the streets of North Philadelphia, through his journey to becoming one of the most decorated champions in the sport of boxing, Hopkins rounds out his top five "independent" moments characterizing a man, a family man, and a true champion.
1.         My Release from the Penal System—" Taking my first step on to the street as a free man after serving close to five years in Graterford [Penitentiary], and then nine years on parole, the freedom of being able to walk the streets without worry and free from violation, was a moment I will never forget.   I felt so free and knew I was going to turn my life around and I was never going back."
2.         Meeting my Wife and Becoming a Father— "When I met my wife and we got married and had our daughter Latrice, I knew I had become a real man.  We've been together over 15 years now, our daughter is 10 and it's amazing to think I could do this."
3.         Moving Out To the Burbs— "I moved out my family out of North Philadelphia and bought my own home in Delaware. The yard is bigger than my whole block in Philly.  Moving to a private location was freedom from the hardship and disappointment from the neighborhood of my youth.   It was so different at first to see trees and single family homes all over the place.  But, believe me, it didn't take long to get used to living that way."
4.         Becoming a Hometown Hero—"After my victory over Oscar [De La Hoya] the City of Philadelphia threw me a parade. When I started winning titles, I gave my city something to be proud of and they recognized me for it.   You know you've made it when your hometown throws you a parade."
5.          Standing Up For My Boxing Rights—I've stood up for myself against the most powerful promoters in the game and won.  I did it to protect myself and all the other fighters in the sport.   The payoff—Golden Boy Promotions saw that I was a good businessman, made me an offer to join their company and now, I am president of Golden Boy East."

Winky Wright, "In or Out of the Ring, I have a fist first, talk later attitude. "

Although fighters feared him and promoters left him alone, Winky Wright found a way to make fights and propel his professional career.   From early on, he found the independence he needed to take charge of his career in his own way, aligning himself Wright discounts the skepticism and speaks with his fists. Wright details five monumental accounts in which he exercised his greatest level of free will.
1.         The Birth of my Two Children—" When my children Raven and Roemello were born, I knew I had to have more independence and start making decisions that were the best for those kids.  It's amazing to have someone else's life depended on yours, it changes your perspective immediately.  My family is my life, and in the ring I am not only fighting for myself, I am fighting for them."
2.         My Triumph over Shane Mosley— "The day I signed to fight Shane Mosley was the day that my life went from rags to riches. Shane was really the first real fighter who had the confidence to step up and say he'd fight me. Everyone else was a bunch of excuses. It was when I defeated Shane that I claimed my fame. Shane's biggest mistake in challenging me, gave me my biggest pay day and put me on the stage."
3.         The Death of my Uncle —"My uncle and I were really tight and he was my best friend.  We grew up and did everything together as he was only several years my senior.   When he died so suddenly it really shook me up.  A lot of who I am today is from what he taught me to be.  He taught me to stand up for myself and without him here, that's exactly what I have to do."    
4.         Becoming My Own Promoter—"This is something I have always said I would do. Owning my own promotion company, Winky Promotions, puts me in a position of power in the boxing world.   I have now claimed my independence from other boxing promoters. I do business just like I box, I'm not just talk - I act and win.
5.         A Future Fight with Oscar de la Hoya— "In the future, I would like to challenge Oscar de la Hoya. After beating Hopkins, standing on my own against De La Hoya will be the next most independent moment on this list."
Hopkins vs. Wright "Coming to Fight" is for Hopkins' Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight belt and will take place Saturday, July 21 st at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. "Coming to Fight" is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Winky Promotions, and sponsored by Southwest Airlines, Tecate Beer and Rockstar Energy Drink.  
The Hopkins vs. Wright pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT, has a suggested retail price of $49.95, will be distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View and will be available to more than 61 million pay-per-view homes. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry.   For your Hopkins vs. Wright fight week updates, log on to www.hbo.com.