Ronald "Winky" Wright unanimously outpointed Australia's Sam Soliman in a WBC elimination fight Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun casino.
The victory by Wright is expected to set up a showdown with WBC/WBA middleweight champion Jermain Taylor sometime in 2006.
"I want Jermain as soon as possible," Wright said.
Wright (50-3, 25 knockouts) was pushed to the limit by Soliman (31-8, 12 knockouts) in the 12-round fight. Judge Duane Ford scored it 117-110, Tom Kaczmarek had it 115-112 and Melvin Lathan had it 115-113.
A Taylor-Wright fight may come no sooner than the middle of next year, because both have had several tough fights the last few months.
Soliman weathered several strong efforts by Wright to end the fight early. Every time Wright scored, Soliman rallied.
"He was very awkward and he came to fight," Wright said. "I thought he would wind down. I give him a lot of credit. I did what I had to do to win."
The 34-year-old Wright was already ranked No. 1 by the WBA and WBC. Soliman was rated No. 1 by the IBF.
Taylor defeated Bernard Hopkins in a unanimous 12-round decision on Dec. 3 to successfully defend the WBA and WBC titles.
Taylor won the undisputed middleweight title with a split decision win over Hopkins in July. Wright was coming off an impressive win over former middleweight and welterweight champion Felix Trinidad and two solid victories over former lightweight champion Shane Mosley.
The 32-year-old Soliman is another well-traveled fighter. The Melbourne native had won his last 19 fights and had not lost in over four years.
Arthur Abraham holds the IBF title. However, it is unlikely Hopkins would fight Abraham with a mandatory title fight against Taylor on the horizon.