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Back home, Wright wins easily

Eight countries. Four continents. Thousands of miles to places far, far away.

Saturday night, Winky Wright finally landed back home.

Welcome back.

Fighting just a few blocks from where he began his career 16 years ago in a smoke-filled room of hundreds, Wright turned in another trademark performance in front of an announced crowd of 13,825 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Wright won a lopsided unanimous decision, taking scores of 117-110 on two judges' cards and 117-109 on the third's.

At the final bell, some scattered boos could be heard after a performance that got the job done but had no great moments.

Wright (51-3-1) seemed eager to deliver for his hometown fans, rocking Ike Quartey (37-4-1) a few times early and making some wonder if Wright might deliver his the first knockout since 2002. He also tried to close out Quartey but couldn't finish him off.

"I was definitely trying to close the show but he's a tough fighter," Wright said. "I dropped him. I hurt him, but he kept coming back. I wanted to show everyone I can punch."

In the end, though, it was as had been predicted, a battle of similar styles with Quartey, a former welterweight champion making his debut at middleweight, eager to prove he still did it best.

The famous Wright right jab-straight left combo was nowhere to be found early, as he preferred to exchange at close quarters with Quartey, in part because he couldn't seem to back the Ghanian up as he did with Jermain Taylor in June.

In the second round, he caught Quartey coming, clipping him and sending him to the canvas. Though Quartey was off balance and the punch didn't land flush, it was counted as a knockdown.

In round three, Wright started to crave some distance between him and Quartey, but the two former roommates as young professionals always seemed to merge back in the center of the ring, where they spent the rest of the fight.

Wright didn't seem nearly as crisp as he did in June. He was in control all the way but never seemed able to measure Quartey for the kind of punch that could wake the crowd from a late-round slumber. Two fights in the crowd between the ninth and 10th rounds, however, did.

Wright threw a career-high 1,011 punches, almost twice as many as Quartey's 642, and landed 269 of them, or 27 percent.

The boxing world will now turn its attention to Friday's fight between middleweight champion Taylor and former junior middleweight champion Kassim Ouma.

Should Taylor win as expected, fans will ask for a rematch of the controversial draw in June with the Little Rock champion.

Saturday afternoon, promoter Lou DiBella again stated that a rematch is unlikely, unless Wright accepts Taylor's terms of a 60-40 split of the purse.

Wright has been insistent on 50-50, pointing out that he is regarded as one of the top two fighters in the world and when the two fought previously, there was no winner, though most ringside observers thought Wright had done enough to eke out a close decision.

Wright made roughly $3-million for Saturday's effort.