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Wright wins by decision
The St. Petersburg fighter easily defeats Sam Soliman and hopes for a big-money fight next.
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published December 11, 2005
Sam "King "Soliman, left, of Australia and Ronald "Winky" Wright exchange punches during their 12 round WBC elimination fight at the Mohegan un Casino in Uncasville, Conn., on Saturday.
UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Hey, Jermain Taylor.
The middleweight champion can run, but after Winky Wright's near-whitewash of Sam Soliman Saturday night, he won't be able to hide.
Not if he wants to hold on to his middleweight titles, anyway.
Wright retained his No. 1 spots in the two organizations in which Taylor holds the title - the WBC and WBA - and added the IBF's No. 1 spot for good measure by defeating Soliman at the Mohegan Sun Arena in front of 4,682 fans and an HBO television audience.
The oft-avoided Wright is now in the best position of his 15-year career. Taylor can make him wait by fighting the mandatory challenger to his WBO belt, but by the end of summer 2006 should see Wright challenge for the middleweight title.
Wright nearly delivered a rare knockout in the 10th round, staggering Soliman twice, but was too tired to finish him off. He went back to methodically countering Soliman to close out his second straight shutout as a middleweight, but looked tired in the final rounds.
The judges scored it 115-112, 117-110 and 115-113 for Wright. The Times had it 118-110.
Soliman came out with pressure and never let up, averaging 100 punches a round, but despite his high work rate couldn't break through the defense of the St. Petersburg fighter. When he did get a punch through, Soliman's lack of power (just 13 knockouts in 39 fights) showed as the bigger Wright just kept moving forward.
It was Wright who landed the biggest blows, finding the range with everything in his arsenal and stunning Soliman on a few occasions. While derided by some for his one-dimensional style in using a right jab to beat Felix Trinidad in May, Wright's best punch Saturday was his straight left, which he landed frequently.
But Wright was more than willing to mix it up with Soliman. His right jab was again perfect in setting everything up, and his work on Soliman's body seemed to slow his opponent briefly in the middle rounds.
Wright, who picked up the 50th win of his career (against three losses), was fighting for the first time since his domination of Trinidad. While he didn't look to be as big as he was for Trinidad, he was just as fit and showed little effect from a cold that had dogged him and others in his camp since last week.
Soliman (31-7) was expected to give him a test, despite his journeyman status. The 8-to-1 underdog had surrendered a chance to fight for the IBF title after Taylor vacated it to take his chances against one of the hottest and most well-known fighters in the sport in Wright.
Though he started his career 12-7, Soliman was a winner in 19 in a row heading into his biggest test and his style was considered a potential problem for Wright.
But he can add Saturday's result to a pedigree seemingly built on losses in close contests to Anthony Mundine, Raymond Joval and Howard Eastman five years ago.
Wright can now focus his attention on securing a fight with Taylor, whose promoter, Lou DiBella, has said deserves an easy fight after beating Bernard Hopkins twice and may fight a lesser opponent in Arkansas in April. He said Wright may have to wait until late summer for his opportunity.
But HBO, which has deals with Wright and Taylor, is expected to push for a fight sooner than later.
Questions also remain over who will pursue the fight for Wright - manager Chris Lighty, under the banner of recently former Winky Promotions, or current promoter Gary Shaw.
Both were at Saturday's fight.
OTHER LOCALS: St. Pete Boxing Club's Akinemyi Laleye won and Carlos De Leon Jr. fought to a draw in their bouts on the undercard.
Laleye (3-0, 1 KO) fought an exciting four-round bout against Philadelphia's Louis Robinson, eking out a split decision as judges Glen Feldman and Stephen Epstein scored it 39-37 for the Nigerian native, while a third judge had it 39-37 for Robinson.
"He was pretty tough," said Laleye, who might have broken a knuckle on his left hand.