Associated Press - March 12, 2004
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Shane Mosley beat Oscar De La Hoya in his last fight, and has a promise to fight Felix Trinidad next. So what motivates him for
Saturday's fight with Winky Wright?
There's the lure of winning another belt and becoming the undisputed 69-kilogram (154-pound) champion. There's a desire to prove he can punch as well
And finally, there's that little issue of $10 million - the money he'll earn to fight Trinidad in November if he wins.
``For me to get to Trinidad I have to beat Winky,'' Mosley said. ``I've got my mind very focused on Winky Wright. I'll think about Trinidad right
after the victory.''
Mosley is taking a big chance when he meets Wright in a scheduled 12-round fight that will unify the junior middleweight titles. It's a chance he
didn't have to take after winning the biggest fight of his career last September against De La Hoya.
For Wright, there's nothing but upside in trying to prove he is a true champion. For Mosley, the perils outweigh the rewards, but that didn't stop him
from seeking the fight.
``My main thing is just being the undisputed champion, the best guy out there,'' Mosley said. ``I'm not ducking anyone.''
A lot of other fighters have ducked Wright, a tall southpaw who tends to make his opponents look bad. Wright nearly beat Fernando Vargas in 1999. He
holds the IBF version of the junior middleweight title, and is finally getting the big fight he has wanted for so long.
The two, who both weighed in at 69 kilograms (154 pounds) on Friday, meet in a scheduled 12-round fight at Mandalay Bay hotel-casino with Mosley's WBC
and WBA titles on the line along with Wright's IBF crown. Also on the card is a fight between unbeaten heavyweight prospect Joe Mesi and former
cruiserweight champion Vassiliy Jirov.
``It's a better win situation for Winky,'' Mosley acknowledged. ``But it's history winning all three belts, taking care of all the belts in the
division and then moving on to the next challenger.''
Mosley (39-2, 35 knockouts) signed to meet Wright before Trinidad agreed to come out of retirement to meet him in November. He doesn't regret taking
the fight, though his purse will be far smaller than what he'll make against Trinidad or in a third fight with De La Hoya.
Negotiations for that third fight never took off because, Mosley believes, De La Hoya's camp didn't want to give at least equal money to a fighter who
had beaten him twice.
De La Hoya instead agreed to fight Bernard Hopkins for the middleweight title, assuming both win tuneups on June 5.
``He can go his way and I can go mine,'' Mosley said. ``I beat him twice and maybe I'm not as famous as him but I'm very famous. A lot of people are
recognizing the Sugar man.''
Wright, though a 3-1 underdog, presents a lot of challenges to Mosley, who has fought southpaws only twice in his professional career. He's got a good
jab, good ring skills and a burning desire to prove himself on the big stage.
Wright thought he had done that in a disputed loss to Vargas, but hasn't had a big name fight since.
``It's what I've been training for my whole career,'' Wright said. ``I knew I would get another chance. They could cheat me, try not to put me on TV
and do everything they could do, but I'm here. You can't keep a good man down.''
Wright (46-3, 25 knockouts) has defended the IBF title four times. But most of those defenses came on cards that were headlined by other fighters.
In boxing, left-handers without a big punch often don't sell well.
``People know who I am,'' said Wright, who counts among his friends Barry Bonds, who will be at ringside to watch. ``I'm not as big as Shane Mosley
and all of them, but they know who I am.''
Wright, who like Mosley is 32, is a rare fighter in that he has fought his whole 14-year pro career at 69 kilograms (154 pounds). That's unlike
Mosley, who started out as a lightweight and has gone only 15 rounds at his current weight.
Wright is actually a right-hander in everything but boxing, meaning he has extra power on his right jab when fighting from the southpaw stance.
It's that combination that has kept the big name fighters away from him, until Mosley's promoter offered him $750,000 and a big chance to fight
``I'm a craftsman, not just a big puncher,'' Wright said. ``A lot of fighters don't understand that.''
The undercard fight is the biggest test yet - and the first Las Vegas fight - for Mesi, who has been carefully groomed while fighting mainly out of
his hometown of Buffalo, New York.
Mesi (28-0, 25 knockouts) was not impressive in his last fight at Madison Square Garden, where he was dropped in the seventh round by Monte Barrett
before holding on for a majority decision.
``I don't have anything to prove to anybody but myself,'' Mesi said. ``I was on a good streak for a while and had a poor performance in December. I'm
much more prepared for this fight. I've accepted criticism well.''
Jirov (33-1, 29 knockouts) will be fighting for the first time as a heavyweight after losing his cruiserweight title last April to James Toney.