New Faces: Junior Wright
Weight class: cruiserweight
Height/reach: 6 feet (182 cm)/ 76¾ inches (194 cm)
Amateur record: 42-18
Turned pro: 2011
Pro record: 13-0-1, 11 knockouts
Trainer(s): Rick Wilson, Pete George, Steve Clemente
Manager: Steve Clemente
Promoter: Star of David Promotions
Best night of pro career: “It was definitely the Steve Bujaj fight in New York City,” said Wright. “First of all it was my first time ever being in New York City and it was a really good fight for the WBC International title.”
Although the fight with Bujaj ended in a draw after 10 rounds, Wright picked up a lot of new fans with his all-action style and most in attendance scored the fight in Wright’s favor.
“I was the aggressor throughout the fight,” Wright added. “I broke his jaw and his nose.”
Wright is OK with the decision of the judges and is proud of his performance after having just over three weeks of training.
Worst night of pro career: Although Wright is still undefeated he remembers a fight early in his career where he didn’t feel he was at his best.
“It was only my second pro fight and we had to travel to Indiana,” Wright said. “Instead of weighing in the night before for some reason they made us weigh in the next morning, which was the day of the fight.”
Wright went to sleep hungry that night and remembers feeling sluggish the next day, but still managed to score a TKO victory in the first round.
Next fight: Wright will next fight on April 17 at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota. Although an opponent has not been named yet, his trainer Rick Wilson and promoter Dmitriy Salita are looking for an undefeated fighter to continue Wright’s journey to bigger competition.
Why he’s a prospect: Immediately following the dramatic fight against Bujaj, Salita signed Wright to a promotional contract and has had Wright fight 3 times in just 6 months.
“I believe Juinor is the one of the best cruiserweights in the world who is based out of the U.S.,” said Salita, who himself once challenged Amir Khan for the WBA junior welterweight title. “He is exactly the kind of fighter that can bring interest back to the cruiserweight division.”
Wright is a three-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion and is developing a following in his hometown because he loves to throw a ton of punches. According to his trainer, Rick Wilson, Wright is an athletic freak of nature.
“An athlete like Junior comes along once every 50 years,” said Wilson. “He has that Jamaican quick twitch and he recovers very fast from workouts. He is genetically very gifted. His body is muscular without him ever having lifted weights.”
Wright has knockout power in both hands and displays tremendous stamina in his fights. And he likes to keep busy – he fought four times in 2014 and may fight five times in 2015.
Why he’s a suspect: Wright keeps a day job at Home Depot back in Chicago and is the first to admit that it stands in the way of his career on certain occasions. He was chosen by Adonis Stevenson to help prepare the RING champion for his last title defense, against Dmitry Sukhotsky. As great as that experience was for Wright, his current work schedule has now prevented him from joining Stevenson’s camp for the upcoming Sakio Bika fight.
“I don’t have a structured gym schedule,” Wright said. “I look at my work schedule first then I figure out my gym schedule.”
Inside the ring Wright needs to shore up his defense. Although he seems to walk right through the punches, many of his opponents have been able to land clean shots flush on his face. As the level of opposition rises he may not fare as well unless he starts moving his head and blocks the shots with his guard.
Storylines: Wright first was introduced to boxing by playing the “Knockout Kings” video game on a PlayStation when he was 16. That led him to a boxing gym in Chicago and he fell in love with the sport. At that age he couldn’t even tell you who Mike Tyson was but started to develop a passion for the sport as he learned he was better at it then the other kids in the gym.
Wright’s most recent fight in New York City, against the battle tested Rayford Johnson in January, ended early as he delivered consecutive unanswered left-handed uppercuts to finish Johnson off in the second round.
Wright dedicated that win to the two slain NYPD officers who were gunned down in Brooklyn a month earlier.
“I have close relationship with the police in Chicago,” said Wright. “They support me and my career and I felt I needed to do something for the officers in New York City.”
Salita believes Wright will be the one who can bring excitement back into the cruiserweight division.
“I signed Junior as much for his character as I did for his boxing ability,” said Salita. “And trust me, Junior can fight and hit hard.”
At 28, now is the time for him to be tested against top-tier competition in the cruiserweight division so he can finally put the paint department at Home Depot behind him once and for all.
Fight-by-fight record (reverse chronology)
Jan. 22 – Rayford Johnson-TKO 2
Nov. 1 – Lucas St. Clair – TKO 3
Aug. 15 – Marlon Hayes – UD 6
May 15 – Stivens Bujaj – D 10
Feb. 7 – Galen Brown – KO 4
Dec. 6 – Harley Kilfian – TKO 3
Aug. 16 – Nick Kisner – SD 6
April 13 – Chris Thomas – TKO 3
Feb. 1 – Tim Johnson – KO 2
Dec. 14 – Nick Reeder – TKO 2
July 13 – Covon Graham – KO 1
Feb. 24 – Rogelio Saldana – KO 1
Jan. 13 – Brandon Bennett – TKO 1
Oct. 7 – Darrion Fletcher – KO 1