The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire
The "Real" Welterweight Championship?
By Thomas Gerbasi
New York City, New York - To at least 12,000 screaming fans, the REAL welterweight championship was fought last night in Madison Square Garden. Felix Trinidad successfully defended his IBF crown with a convincing 12 round unanimous decision over former champ Pernell Whitaker, but that doesn't begin to tell the story of this fight.
You may not like Pernell Whitaker. He may not be the guy you want to hang out with, he may not be the guy you want to root for. But if you have any knowledge of boxing, you have to appreciate his skills, and his place in boxing history. You may even have more respect for him after last night's loss. Not blessed with a punch, Whitaker was simply outgunned by the young champion, Trinidad. Yet facing this handicap, along with age, a year long layoff, and diminished speed, Whitaker made a fight of it, and a good one at that.
Lacking the droughts of action epitomized by last week's DeLa Hoya-Quartey tussle, Trinidad-Whitaker was an exciting battle between two of boxing's best. Whitaker began the fight aggressively, jabbing his way forward, as "Tito" looked to counterpunch. But "Sweet Pea"'s real gameplan was soon crystallized, as he utilized the punch and clutch method of frustrating Trinidad.
Trinidad remained cool, and a quick right at the end of round two sent Whitaker down on the seat of his pants. He rose quickly and the two immediately resumed hostilities.
Rounds three through five utilized the same pattern: Whitaker jabbing, clutching, and fouling, and Trinidad jabbing and looking for an opening for his big right hand. All rounds were close, some being too close to call, at least on my scorecard.
In the sixth, Trinidad had his best round thus far, slipping Whitaker's punches while landing rights and hooks of his own. This pattern continued in the seventh, with Trinidad's much underrated defense leading the way. "Tito" pumped his fist to the crowd during a seventh round clinch, and the crowd roared its approval.
The eighth round changed the fight. Trinidad staggered Whitaker with a short uppercut, and had him in trouble for most of the round. Whitaker never seemed to recover. His punches were not having any effect on the champion, and "Tito" just seemed to be getting stronger. Whitaker's only chance was to frustrate Trinidad into a mistake, and try as he did (including almost sitting on the canvas on two occasions) Felix would not bite.
In the end, the judges scores were unanimous (115-109, 118-109, 117-110). I had it much closer, at 118-114. For Felix Trinidad (34-0 , 28 ko's) , a world of opportunities await. The biggest catch? A battle with Oscar De La Hoya. Remember how Oscar told the world that more exciting fights were out there for him ? Here it is Oscar, you can't get more exciting than this. Other interesting matchups for Trinidad include a fight with Ike Quartey, or a move up to junior middleweight, where young guns like Vargas and Reid await. All he has to do is stay active.
As for "Sweet Pea" Whitaker (40-3-1, 17 ko's), I don't think it's time to hang 'em up yet. He still beats 99% of the fighters out there today. And if we're going to be objective, this may be considered his first loss. Let's see him go out with a win. And let's enjoy him, because we won't be seeing another like him for a long time...if ever.
In undercard action...
Teronn Millett (21-1-1, 16 ko's) of St. Louis shocked the boxing world with a controversial fifth round stoppage of "Cool" Vince Phillips (39-4, 28 ko's). Millett's upset win earned him the IBF Junior Welterweight title, and a date with unbeaten Zab Judah.
Phillips just did not look good in this fight. It was rumored that Phillips was weighing up to 180 pounds a couple of months ago. And it showed. Phillips looked lethargic, and he was loading up all his shots, looking for a quick kayo against the younger, faster Millett. In round two Phillips did land his vaunted right, dropping Millett to a knee for a short count. The youngster came back though, and the two took turns stunning each other.
This pattern continued in the third, until a right hand sent Phillips to the canvas hard at the bell. Phillips staggered up, but he continued to take uneccessary punishment in the fourth round. Vince visited the canvas again, but he showed the heart of a champion, as he waged war with Millett as the round ended.
Vince made a last stand in the fifth, but another searing left hook turned Phillips around. As he staggered once again, referee Jim Santa wisely called a halt to the fight. Phillips protested and the crowd booed, but this was a justified stoppage. Boxing doesn't need another tragedy. Phillips was only getting weaker, while Millett was getting stronger. Hopefully we'll next see Vince Phillips in a division where he doesn't have to starve himself to make weight. And hopefully the Millett-Judah fight will be made before 1999 leaves us.
Former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Green gained back his WBA title (the Interim version) with a convincing ninth round knockout over crude brawler Darren Obah. Obah, who came into this fight ranked number one by the WBA, was thoroughly thrashed by an impressive Green. Green, who will now fight William Joppy (recovering from a car accident) for the WBA crown, fought with skill I have never seen from him. As Obah did everything in his power to turn the match into a streetfight, Green was patient, drilling Obah with combinations everytime the Australian would give him some punching room. While another Green-Joppy match won't put them in the company of a middleweight trilogy like Graziano-Zale, this may be an entertaining scrap if the Green who showed up last night makes another appearance.
In an eight round women's bout, Melissa Salamone showed more punching power and boxing skill than her brother, former light heavyweight titlist Lou Del Valle, in winning a unanimous eight round decision over rough and tough Cora Webber. Salamone showed a piston like jab, poise, style, and punching power in notching the win. And with a crowd full of fans cheering her on, Salamone showed the presence of a future star. And with Christy Martin out of the picture, Salamone looks to be a great ambassador for women's boxing.
Gilberto Serrano KO 6 Edelmiro "Tiger" Martinez
Shamir Reyes TKO 3 Robert Landetta
Vernon Forrest TKO 2 Mark Fernandez
Vivian Harris TKO 1 Jerry Smith
Andrew Lewis KO 1 John Stewart
Omar Ordono KO 4 Pedro Santos
Juan Carlos Lamberty TKO1 Lee Lopez
Celebs in the building: Mark Breland, Buddy McGirt, Kathy Collins, Sharmba Mitchell, New York Knick Larry Johnson, and Ike Quartey, who received a rousing cheer, and who was mobbed by fans at his ringside seat.
Don King enthusiastically waving a Puerto Rican flag before the Main Event
Salsa king Marc Anthony doing the best Star Spangled Banner I've heard at a fight in a long while.
The chant of "Sweet Pea" drowning out the Trinidad supporters for a brief moment in Round Five
The nationalistic fervor which greeted Puerto Ricans Salamone and Trinidad was a sight to see. How come Americans don't feel that strongly about their fighters when fighting in different countries?
By Chris Bushnell
Fresh on the heels of Oscar DelaHoyas split decision victory over Ike Quartey, the 147 pound divisions two other big names squared off in an effort to further clarify the welterweight hierarchy. Pernell Whitaker and Felix
Trinidad met face to face in Madison Square Garden to hammer out the issue, and the result was a surprisingly exciting, if one-sided fight.
On paper, it was the fighters weaknesses that provided the intrigue. Whitaker, now 35, was coming off a forced 16 month exile from the sport, having twice failed drug tests in 1998. Trinidad, the younger, stronger, quicker, and more menacing fighter, had his own problems. Struggling to make the 147 lb. weight limit, Trinidad was forced to don a rubber suit and jog the MSG neighborhood before finally, and barely, making weight Friday. All
predictions were off, as we waited until the first round to see if either fighter would be their normal selves.
It was Whitaker who shined first, displaying trademark elusiveness and a frequent jab to steal the first round out from under Trinidad. As Tito showed respect, only jabbing occasionally, a flat footed Whitaker began landing
chopping left hands. His plan centered on exploiting Felixs infamous chin and pressuring him early. And for the first round, at least, it worked marvelously.
Whitaker continued on into the second round, popping Tito on the chin and getting an enthusiastic reception from the crowd each time he did. Trinidad was only beginning to warm up, and midway through the round, a picture perfect lead right hand found Whitakers chin and sent him back onto the seat of his pants. Whitaker shook his head and over the next four consecutive rounds, Trinidad began firing with more frequency. His punches were straight, sharp and found their target with an amazing degree of accuracy. Whitakers defense remained his biggest strength, but it was nowhere as potent as it was even a few fights ago. Whitakers head movement, once a constant, came and went at random. At times he would make Trinidad miss three consecutive attempts, while at others he would take all three on the chin.
One of the reasons Whitaker was getting hit more than weve ever seen him get hit was his age, but part of it was his gameplan. Even though Trinidad was sweeping round after round through six, Whitaker was the one pressing the action. Hoping to knock out Trinidad, if not tire him out, Whitaker was showing the heart of a champion in the ring, hoping it would pay dividends in the second half of the bout.
In the seventh round, having survived Trinidads most stringent attack the round before, Whitaker again showed us glimpses of his prime. Whipping his head around, Whitaker made Tito miss and landed his best punches of the
evening to Trinidads midsection. Softening him up with several loud body punches, Whitaker threw two hard left uppercuts, the second of which stunned Trinidad and had him moving backwards for the first time all night. As
Whitaker continued to rake the body, he looked as though he might do the kind of damage that would slow Trinidad down.
Digging deep, Felix fought back at the end of the round, and after a one minute break, proceeded to repay Whitaker for his efforts. Coming out fast, Trinidads quick hands wobbled the veteran across the ring. With both hands, Trinidad fired and landed with rage. Pea, taking sustained punishment for perhaps the first time in his career, showed no defense and fired back. The only thing more surprising than seeing Whitakers head snap to and fro was seeing him standing and fighting, determined to win by knockout.
In the ninth, Whitaker again hurt Trinidad to the body, but could not follow up. Trinidad was swinging confidently, landing close to 50% of his punches. As much as Whitaker pressed the tempo, tried to brawl, and bullied and shoved his way to the inside, it wasnt enough. Looking tired but determined, Trinidad matched punch for punch, with more starch in fists than his opponent.
Clearly leading, Trinidad rested in the tenth and finally boxed in the eleventh to kill some time. Whitaker was the unlikely pursuer, and won the 11th on Trinidads passivity, but it was not enough. Down by a half dozen rounds or more, Lou Duva matter of factly told Whitaker that he needed a knockout to win. But by the 12th, Trinidad was actually on his toes, moving around the ring, jabbing and landing at will, while Whitaker fruitlessly sought to begin one more final exchange. It didnt happen, and we went to the cards.
The unanimous decision was announced as 118-109 (twice) and 117-110 for Trinidad in the kind of lopsided decision victory that Whitaker himself had built his illustrious career on.
After the fight, Whitaker (40-3-1/17) predictably claimed that he had been robbed of another victory, and for the first time, no one agreed with him. Forget the Ramirez and Chavez heists, or even the erratic scoring of the DelaHoya defeat, this decision was right on the money. Whitakers protestations that at least the viewers saw who won were empty clichés from a fighter facing retirement, but unwilling to let go. In 1997, after decisioning Pestriaev in a snoozefest, Whitaker claimed Im gonna fight one more big fight and if I lose, thats it. But tonight he ridiculously answered questions about retirement by saying Ill retire when someone finally beats me. Translated into English, Whitaker was really angling for a fight with recently defeated Ike Quartey. Both men are promoted by Main Events, and both fighters might welcome the payday.
Trinidad finally gets the career defining victory he has long sought. While many will write off this win as a meager accomplishment over an aging opponent, Trinidad showed the speed and reflexes that will one day trouble Oscar DelaHoya. Rallying from being hurt to the body, a drained Trinidad sucked it up and did the one thing that few thought he could: look good against Whitaker. While Whitaker tried to make it ugly, wrestling in the clinches and disrupting the pace with no less than a dozen slips to the canvas, Trinidad still managed to dominate, something that Oscar was unable to do when he decisioned the WBC title off of Whitakers waist.
And then there were two. Trinidads performance leaves him as the final remaining foil to DelaHoyas claim of division dominance. After the fight, the DelaHoya-Trinidad matchup was on the lips of everyone. Asked about his weight, Trinidad denied having problems making 147 (as did Don King by shouting No Problemo! No Problemo!), despite what had happened with the scales the day before. Claiming that he wanted to meet DelaHoya at 147 instead of waiting for 154, the call-out was complete. Now well see if Oscar responds.
On the undercard, weight problems were also the story of the fight. On an untelevised bout, IBF 140 lb. champion Cool Vince Phillips relinquished his title to the unheralded Terronn Millet. Phillips, who lost 47 pounds in 7 weeks of training, was too drained to mount much offense. Reportedly looking sluggish and winded, Phillips was knocked down in the third and fourth rounds, and then staggered by a insubstantial left hook in the fifth. The referee halted the bout as the crowd booed and Phillips looked stunned. Millet, who was described in some reports as constantly off balance and green was down in the second on a knockdown that was ruled a slip. Phillips, who won his title by upsetting Kostya Tszyu, was already looking to move up to 147, drops to 39-4.
Too Quick, Too Strong, and Too Young: Trinidad Overpowers Whitaker!
By Francis Walker
In front of a jam-packed, 13,822 strong on Saturday, February 20, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, IBF welterweight champion Felix Trinidad won an unanimous decision against former WBC titlist and four-division champ, Pernell "Sweat Pea" Whitaker (41-3-1, 17KOs). At age 26, Trinidad (34-0, 29KOs), making the 12th defense of his crown in almost six years, proved to be too fast, too powerful, and too dominant for the 35-year-old challenger.
Having been inactive for over 16 months, Whitaker's ineffectiveness and declining skills could not have been more evident. At his peak, Whitaker's right jabs and straight-lefts enabled him frustrate the competition for years. Not tonight though, as Trinidad walked straight through Whitaker's southpaw style.
Whitaker's ineffectiveness was displayed on the scorecards. At the end of twelve rounds, all three officials favoring Trinidad 118-109 twice and 117-111.
Whitaker's problems began in the second round. A right hook to the side of his head dropped him on his behind. There were several additional knockdowns afterward, but referee Benji Esteves ruled them slips.
During much of the contest, both fighters wrestled one another against the ropes. Trinidad and Whitaker, undoubtedly were holding and hitting across the head and underneath the midsection. As the contest continued though, Trinidad's speed and aggressiveness dominated Whitaker's boxing skills. Whitaker may have out-jabbed (476-196) and out-punched (749 -512) Trinidad, but according to CompuBox, Inc., Trinidad out-landed (278-234) the competition.
Whitaker did resort to his old hitting and running tactics, as his bobbing and weaving tactics forced Trinidad to miss wildly. However, Trinidad landed his right stopped Whitaker and wobbled him dead in his tracks. For the first time in his career, Whitaker was forced to hold in almost every round.
Whitaker did manage to give Trinidad a run for his money in the seventh. A straight-left on three separate occasions, forced Trinidad to wobble backwards. Whitaker, who only has 17 knock outs in now 45 professional
contests, just did not have the firepower to stop Trinidad. Similar to when Oba Carr, fought Trinidad several years ago. Carr, having dropped Trinidad in the second round, did not have the strength to beat the champion. As a result, Carr was knocked out in the eighth.
In the final round of what looked to be the end of a legendary career, Whitaker reminded us how much of a great fighter he was entering his prime. In the last 20 seconds of the contest Whitaker backed into a neutral corner,
ducked and dodged Trinidad's barrages, from the time he was on his feet; until he stooped down on the mat. Trinidad missed every punch!
Fight-fans are still waiting on the day Trinidad will meet WBC welterweight champ, Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya, whom many people felt lost his title last weekend, won a disputed 12-round split decision to former undefeated WBA 147-pound champ Ike Quartey. While De La Hoya has signed to meet Carr, the same fighter Trinidad stopped several years ago; Trinidad has IBF mandatory challenger Vince Pettway waiting in the wings. De La Hoya, who appears to want no more of Quartey, may also move up in weight to 154 pounds by the years end. Trinidad may have to chase De La Hoya up to junior middleweight.
In two other world title fights: Former WBA middleweight champion, Julio Cesar Green (24-3, 17KOs), ranked No. 2 by the World Boxing Association, stopped No.1 contender Darrin Obah (16-3, 12KOs) in the eighth round to capture the WBA interim middleweight title.
Originally, Obah was scheduled to fight current WBA 160-pound champ William Joppy on the Hopkins-Allen II undercard, on February 6, in Washington, D.C. However, Joppy, following preparation for the event, was injured in a car accident within two weeks of the bout. Joppy, who suffered a "minor injury" to his vertebrae, will be sidelined for at least several months. As a result, the WBA found it fit to pit Obah against Green, whom in August 1997, decisioned won a controversial decision from Joppy.
Green's unspectacular kayo of Obah set up a third bout with Joppy, who in January 1998, regained the WBA crown from Green (W 12) in a rematch. Joppy, one of the thousands in attendance, says he is going to knock Green out when they meet later this year.
Lastly, "Cool" Vince Phillips (39-4, 28KOs) lost his IBF junior welterweight championship to mandatory contender Terronn Millett (21-1-1, 15KOs). Millett jumped on Phillips, who lost 45 pounds to make the 140-pound weight limit, from the opening bell.
Millett, whose only loss was a first round knockout of current WBA 140-pound champion Sharmba Mitchell almost four years ago, jumped on Phillips from the opening bell. Realizing Phillips lacked muscle mass and was on rubbery legs, Millett unleashed a vicious flurry of punches that kept Phillips off balance. Millett, a short and stocky individual with long arms, floored Phillips with a hard right hand at the end of the third round.
Phillips, who went down again in the fourth, danced acrossed the ring dazed all through the contest. Phillips absorbed so much punishment, referee Joe Santa waived the bout off in the fifth stanza.
Millett will next meet interim titlist Zab Judah, a member of the 1996 US Olympic Team soon.
[Return to Top]