Boxing

The Wright stuff could sour "Sugar"

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Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) - When "Sugar" Shane Mosley and Ronald "Winky" Wright meet in Sin City Saturday night, it should be one of the most competitive and entertaining bouts of the year. And with so much on the line, you know that both men will be bringing all they have. Mosley and Wright, both 32-years old, will box for the undisputed world championship at the 154-pound weight class, unifying the junior middleweight title at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

Mosley (39-2, 35 KO), who seems to be able to beat everyone in the world not named Vernon Forrest, comes into the fight as the prohibitive favorite.

He owns the WBC and WBA super welterweight belts, and is coming into the battle off of a 12-round unanimous decision win over Oscar De La Hoya on September 13.

Wright (46-3, 25 KO) is the IBF junior middleweight champion, and has won 12- round decisions over Juan Carlos Candelo and Angel Hernandez in the past year. He earned his title with a decision over Robert Frazier in 2001, and has defending the belt four times since.

He's a far less known quantity than Mosley, mainly because he hasn't fought a boxer the caliber of Mosley since losing to then-unbeaten Fernando Vargas in a title fight in December of 1999. Wright hung around for 12 rounds against Vargas in that fight, losing a controversial majority decision, despite coming into the bout with a broken left thumb.

Mosley, whose only two professional losses came in welterweight title fights against Forrest in 2002, has a speed advantage in this contest. Wright isn't particularly fast, but he has the natural strength edge over the smaller boxer.

Speed can kill, but there's one thing that can be more deadly, and that's a southpaw

style. Just ask Ricardo Mayorga, who lost his WBA and WBC welterweights belt to underdog lefty Cory Spinks in December.

And yes, that's the same Mayorga who beat Forrest twice in 2003.

Wright is a nearly 3-to-1 underdog in this fight, and is looking for the respect that has eluded him all these years. Along the way, he has shown due respect for Mosley.

"Shane and I are the only two people in this division man enough to risk it all to become the undisputed world champion," Wright has said. "Trust me, I know. I have offered the same opportunity to De La Hoya and Vargas over and over and over again. Now they are on the sidelines where they belong. March 13 is reserved for the big boys."

Wright has been avoided by the big boys over the years because he's a solid in stature, talented southpaw, and he has the ability to make a good fighter look awful. And in this fight, he'll be looking to make the quantum leap up to the level of household name.

As for Mosley's motivation, in addition to trying to keep his non-Forrest record unblemished, he's got 10 million reasons to win. That's the payday Mosley will earn against Felix "Tito" Trinidad in November if he's able to overcome Wright.

Mosley agreed to the Wright bout before Trinidad decided to come out of retirement. And its quite possible that Wright may slide into the bout with Trinidad should he win, just at a greatly reduced price.

Trinidad likely won't care who he fights, just so long as he can lay claim to the undisputed title with a victory. These chances don't come along often.

The 154-pound division has not had an undisputed champion since 1975, when Koichi Wajima reclaimed the title from Oscar Albarado after a 15-round decision in Japan.

Mosley is a tremendous fighter, and has shown incredible knockout power over the years for a man of his size. "Sugar" is an absolute rock, indisputably in great shape. However, the Forrest losses have shown he's vulnerable, and the left-handed Wright may cause some problems.

First of all, Wright is accustomed to going the distance, while Mosley has heard the final bell only six times in his career. So, one would think, a longer fight would favor Wright.

Second, Mosley has fought only two southpaws in his career. The first was in 1994 against a mere club fighter in Oscar Lopez. That fight was one of the six to go the distance in Mosley's career.

His other fight against a lefty was in February of 2003, against Raul Marquez. Unfortunately, that bout can't be used as a gauge of Mosley's effectiveness against a southpaw, as it was stopped in the third round because of an accidental head-butt that opened up a gash on Marquez's face.

Though I hate to pick against a fighter as talented as Mosley, it seems as if the stars are finally aligning for Wright in this one. His only three losses have come in title fights, and I have a hard time believing that this one will be his fourth.

Look for the fight to go the distance, and for Wright to befuddle Mosley with his guile and unorthodox style. It most likely will be incredibly close, and the major issue could be whether or not the judges will give the better-known fighter the benefit of the doubt and award the fight to Mosley.

This one could even result in the rare, but always contentious, majority decision. My pick is Winky over Sugar in a fairly major upset.

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