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Trinidad Takes Mamadou by Storm

Ferdie Pacheco
Miami, Florida  July 22, 2000                       

    The American Airlines Arena, a cavernous auditorium where the Heat play, was the site of a riotously happy debut of Felix "Tito" Trinidad.  Miami ring historians had to go back to the epic battle of Alexis Arguello vs. Aaron Pryor to remember such an outpouring of Hispanic fans.  And that, dear reader, was twenty years ago.  Ouch!

    The night was top prime-time quality . HBO covered it, the country's best boxing writers were present, and even the mighty ZO Mourning, the Heat's center, was sitting at ring side.   The pre-fight furnished a highlight when Miguel Sandoval lifted his golden trumpet and shook the rafters with a resounding Star Spangled Banner with a finishing high note that only a German Shepherd dog could hear.

    To pick up on that high note, Trinidad entered to a rafters shaking ovation with the background music song "Preciosa"  by the famous Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernandez .  True to his modest self effacing nature Tito entered, under a giant Puerto Rican flag, clad in workman like black trunks.  He appeared relaxed, like a man who knows the outcome of the night. Like a great musician before a concert, or a master surgeon before a difficult operation.

    The fight was over two minutes into the first round.  Tito smashed an uppercut through Mamadou's gloves, then a devastating hook.  Mamadou buckled and pawed at his right eye, which swelled shut.  It was startling evidence of  Trinidad's punching power.  Mamadou was brave, tried to fight back in the
second round, and quit in the third.  It was the wisest thing he'd done all
night.  He was a one-eyed fighter, thoroughly beaten and in danger of serious
damage.  Tito was greeted with a roar of approval and went to his press
interviews. Mamadou went to the hospital.

    Trinidad looks forward to his December 2, Don King fight on HBO with Fernando Vargas.  This is no easy fight, but a genuine threat.  If Trinidad is to lay claim to being the best in boxing he must continue to win his defining fights. Since his third fight I have been a boxing analyst on TV for almost every Trinidad fight thereafter.  I have watched him grow, and now I feel he is the best fighter fighting today.

    And forget that media hype puffery about pound-for-pound.  That does not belong while a fighter is active.  Pound-for-pound for me is the equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor.  For a boxer to earn that praise he has to be evaluated after his career is over.  The term was invented for Sugar Ray Robinson.  Few deserve it.  Joe Louis does, Willie Pep does, Carlos Monzon does, Muhammad Ali does.  Those men fought long and meritorious careers, they lasted a long time and won all the time.

    Trinidad has been given a hard road to travel, with one defining fight after another.  He was underpaid, under publicized, and given no advantage of special treatment.  He was the workhorse of the Don King stable, but he proved to be the class thoroughbred of that stable.  Tito can thank Don King for that hard road, for he earned his position. He learned to survive one hard test after another, while he sweated out the tough nights, his counterpart Oscar de la Hoya enjoyed the luxury of picked opponents, championship purses, mega publicity, acting, singing, advertising attention and adulation of the nation.  When Trinidad fought and won he went home to Puerto Rico to live with his father.  When De la Hoya won he went on the late night TV shows and a shower of dollars.

    The result was evident when bone hard Trinidad met Oscar de la Hoya.  The hard road always prevails over the golden road of the protected fighter.  Trinidad, behind on points, found the way to win, de la Hoya discovered the way to lose.  Somewhere on that Championship Causeway of round 10, 11,12, Oscar's heart left him.  Trinidad's didn't.

    Is Trinidad as good as Roy Jones Jr.?  I think so because Trinidad has passed every test, Roy Jones, Jr. won't look for a defining fight.  As long as he fights tomato cans he cannot seriously be considered the best.  Oh, he looks magnificent, but what happens when he comes up against a similarly qualified fighter?  Pretty soon we'll never know, for old age we'll take him out of the  running.

    I'll end this on a bizarre note.  Tito's father tells me that they want a step-up  career for Felix to run out his career.  First dispose of Vargas, then up to Middleweight for William Joppy, and to cap his career by taking on Roy Jones, Jr. at light heavyweight.

    The only thing that could save Tito is the fact that by the time he gets Roy Jones Jr. to sign, Roy will be running a bait shop in Pensacola.  Tito fighting at Light Heavyweight is the equivalent to Hitler invading Russia.

    You do remember World War II, don't you?




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