LAS VEGAS -- Sugar Shane Mosley was even sweeter the second time around.
Mosley came on in the late rounds again Saturday night to beat Oscar De La Hoya for the second time in three years, winning a close but unanimous decision to take the WBC and WBA 154-pound titles.
In a fight almost as close as the first one, Mosley was the busier and faster fighter, beating De La Hoya to the punch and staying away from the left hook that De La Hoya used to knock out his last two opponents.
All three judges scored it 115-113 for Mosley. The Associated Press had Mosley winning 116-113.
The fight may have meant far more than a few gaudy belts for De La Hoya. He vowed before the bout to retire if he lost again to Mosley, who took a split decision from De La Hoya in June 2000.
Just like the first fight three years ago, Mosley was fresher and faster in the later rounds, while De La Hoya looked weary and tried to win rounds by fighting in flurries in the final seconds.
The fight before a sellout crowd of 16,268 at the MGM Grand hotel was billed as redemption for De La Hoya, who lost to Mosley when both were young amateurs and again when they met as pros.
But it turned more into vindication for Mosley, whose career hit the skids when he lost twice to Vernon Forrest and who hadn't won a fight in more than two years.
"I thought I won by one or two rounds," Mosley said. "He gave me a lot of movement. I knew I hurt him. He never hurt me."
Mosley was the aggressor throughout the fight, though he pressed the action only in spurts. By the late rounds, though, he was putting on more pressure, and the two fighters went toe-to-toe in a hotly paced final round before the bell rang and they hugged like two warriors who had given their all.
"I fought hard to win," De La Hoya said. "I thought I won the fight. I didn't think it was even close. I thought I won by at least three points."
De La Hoya was guaranteed $17 million, though he agreed to pay Mosley $500,000 of that if he lost. By winning, Mosley pocketed $5 million.
The money, though, wasn't De La Hoya's biggest motivation. He desperately wanted to avenge one of only two defeats in a remarkable career in which he has won titles in five weight classes and earned some $150 million in the ring.
By the 12th round that desperation showed through, as De La Hoya came out and the two met in the center of the ring and threw punches almost nonstop for the first minute.
"We were never concerned in the corner," De La Hoya's trainer, Floyd Mayweather, said. "We never even thought of losing. It never crossed our minds."
There were questions about Mosley's power at 154 pounds, a weight he had gone only two full rounds at before. But he seemed to land the bigger punches and had a big ninth round where he rocked De La Hoya on several occasions.
"I felt such overwhelming power throughout the fight," Mosley said.