LAS VEGAS Winky Wright did what he had to do, beating Shane Mosley a second time Saturday night to retain his 154-pound titles.
Now he can do what he really wants fight for big money against the likes of Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins.
''Tito's No. 1,'' Wright said of Trinidad. ''But I'll fight Oscar, Bernard Hopkins whoever the fans want.''
Wright made a case to be included among boxing's elite fighters, but it wasn't easy as he barely pulled out a majority decision against a determined Mosley.
The fight was strikingly similar to the first between the two in March, when the underdog Wright controlled the action from the outside and won a decision. In the rematch, though, Mosley landed well inside against the favored Wright and the fight was still in doubt going into the final round.
When the scorecards were added up, though, it was Wright winning by 115-113 margins on two cards, while the third judge had it 114-114. The Associated Press had Wright winning 116-112 before a sparse crowd at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.
''He was a great fighter. I caught him with more shots,'' Wright said. ''He deserved the rematch, though. He came to fight.''
The fight was so close that had Mosley won the last round on one other scorecard, it would have been a majority draw. Both fighters were clearly tired in the final round and they clinched on a number of occasions, then hugged as the bell sounded to end the fight.
''I showed the fans tonight when I fight I give 100 percent,'' Mosley said. ''I banged with him, I boxed with him. I got the better, cleaner shots.''
Wright was dominating the early rounds but in the fifth, Mosley landed to the body, Wright put his hands down and Mosley hit him with a right that excited the crowd. The two went back and forth, with Mosley landing well to the body and Wright jabbing him to the head.
''I wanted to show he couldn't hurt me, that I could take a punch,'' Wright said. ''But it was a heck of a punch.
As the round ended, the two fighters touched gloves in respect over the head of referee Joe Cortez and Mosley then looked at the crowd and pounded his heart with his glove.
Mosley seemed re-energized by the round and rallied, trying to fight Wright inside to negate the advantage Wright had with his right jab. It was the same jab Wright used in the first fight to win a clear unanimous decision.
''I had more energy and I was able to land more body shots,'' Mosley said.
Mosley fired his father as his trainer after the first fight, when Wright dominated behind his right jab on his way to a decision that gave him the undisputed 154-pound title. In Mosley's corner for the rematch was Joe Goossen, but that wasn't enough in the early rounds for Mosley to change the pattern set in the first fight.
Goossen did his best to urge Mosley on, but Wright kept his hands high in front of his face and matched him flurry for flurry.
''We're going to win this fight if it's the last thing we do,'' Goossen told Mosley after the seventh round. ''It's all a matter of willpower.''
By the 11th round, though, Mosley was frustrated, yelling at Wright as he was warned by Cortez for holding him on the back of the head. The two hugged each other to start the final round, though, showing the respect of fighters who had both given it their all for 23 prior rounds.
''I thought we won the last round, thought we won the fight,'' Goossen said.
Punch stats showed Wright landing 273 punches to 154 for Mosley, but Mosley seemed to land the harder punches. The edge was in the jab, where Wright was credited with landing 138 to only 46 for Mosley.
The win was the second straight setback for Mosley, who seemed destined to fight big-money bouts after beating De La Hoya last year.
Both Wright (48-3, 25 knockouts) and Mosley (39-4, 35 KOs) weighed the class limit of 154 pounds.
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