Associated Press - March 14, 2004
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Winky Wright outworked Shane Mosley over 12 rounds Saturday night, taking the fight to him and scoring the bigger punches to win a
unanimous decision and become the undisputed 154-pound champion.
In the biggest fight of his career, the unheralded Wright consistently beat the speedy Mosley to the punch, ruining his planned $10 million megafight
with Felix Trinidad later this year.
There were no knockdowns but the fight was fast-paced from the opening bell as the two champions went after each other. Mosley, though, was never able
to get inside and Wright seemed to have the answer every time he landed a punch.
Judges Dave Moretti and Chuck Giampa scored it 117-111, while Paul Smith had it 116-112. The Associated Press had Wright winning 116-112.
``I deserved it. It's been a long time,'' Wright said. ``I always thought I was better. Shane has speed but I was better all around.''
Sensing he was behind, Mosley came out in the final round throwing everything he had. But Wright responded and the two fought toe-to-toe as the crowd
stood and cheered at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.
As the final seconds ticked down, Mosley swung so hard with a right hand that he fell down as the bell sounded. He got up and the two fighters
Mosley, who beat Oscar De La Hoya in his last fight to win the WBA and WBC titles, was a 2-1 favorite against Wright, who held the IBF title but had
been largely shut out of big fights in his career.
``For some reason when I came into the ring I felt like I was dehydrated,'' Mosley said. ``I couldn't move. It was a monkey on my back.''
Mosley came out quick in the first round, but it soon became apparent that Wright was landing harder punches and began controlling the pace of the
``If you box him like this it will be an easy fight for you,'' Wright's trainer, Dan Birmingham said.
Wright heeded his trainer's advice and began piling up the rounds, relentlessly going after the shorter Mosley, who tried to counter him by moving
about the ring.
``I always felt I was the better fighter,'' Wright said.
After the sixth round there was a growing urgency in Mosley's corner, where his father and trainer, Jack Mosley, urged his son on.
``The rounds are going by quickly,'' Mosley told his son. ``You have to do the right things to win this fight.''
Mosley (39-3) was fighting at 154 pounds for only the third time in a career that began as a lightweight. Wright (47-3) fought his entire career at
the weight, and seemed both bigger and stronger than Mosley.
Punch stats showed Wright landed 250 punches to 166 for Mosley.
``I think it was more on my part than his part,'' Mosley said. ``I don't feel he was overwhelmingly strong.''
Mosley said he took the fight with Wright to make history by unifying all three titles. But he was also looking for a big win to set up a possible
November fight with Trinidad where both fighters would make at least $10 million.
``It was not a mistake. I have no regrets,'' Mosley said. ''I wanted to find out who was the best in our division. I was fighting for history.''
Mosley earned $2.1 million, while Wright was paid $750,000.
On the undercard, Joe Mesi lived up to his billing as a heavyweight star of the future for eight rounds. In two furious final rounds, Vassiliy Jirov
may have exposed him as something far less.
When it was over, Mesi remained undefeated - but just barely.
Jirov turned a lopsided fight around with shocking suddenness, knocking Mesi down three times in the final two rounds and leaving him hanging on
desperately to remain upright as the bell sounded to end the fight after 10 rounds.
Mesi was declared the winner by 94-93 margins on all three ringside scorecards, but his reputation took a beating as Jirov handed him one in the ring
over the last two rounds. The Associated Press had Mesi winning 95-93.
Mesi had dominated the fight, beating the former cruiserweight champion to the punch and bloodying his face when Jirov dropped him with a right hand
to the back of his head late in the ninth round. Mesi got up and traded punches with Jirov as the round ended.
``If I knew I was ahead as much as I was I wouldn't have taken that chance,'' Mesi said. ``I wanted to close the show.''
Instead, it was Jirov who nearly closed the show on Mesi. He hurt him with a series of punches early in the 10th round and Mesi went down to one knee,
getting up at the count of nine.
Jirov, the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, went right after Mesi, landing a left-right combination that put him down on one knee with 52 seconds left in
the fight. Mesi was desperately trying to hold and hang on as Jirov rocked him with another big left hand with 10 seconds left and was stumbling in
Jirov's arms when the fight ended.
Mesi, who improved to 29-0, was making his first Las Vegas appearance after fighting most of his career near his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. Jirov was
supposed to be his toughest opponent yet, after a slow climb in the quality of opponents in a career that began in 1997.
[Edited on 15-3-2004 by Ocelot]