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Trinidad TKO's Vargas in the 12th round in the Fight of the Year
by Joe Bruno--Former Vice President of the Boxing Writers Association
After two heavyweight pay-per-view duds in the past month, boxing finally
took a shot in the arm, rather than a kick in the family jewels.
But make no mistake, as great as the Felix Trinidad-Fernando Vargas fight
turned out to be, and it was one of the best in the past ten years, it still
wasn't worth fifty clams a pop on pay-per-view.
No pay-per-view fight is. Not Ali versus Frazier. Not Hagler versus Hearns.
Not Frankenstein versus the Wolf Man, or Abbott and Costello.
No TV fight, period, is worth shelling out fifty of your hard earned dollars.
In person -- maybe. On the tube -- no no Nanette.
But thatıs a different story line for a different day. Let's celebrate a
grand day for boxing. Albeit one where a tragedy was averted by the great
conditioning of both fighters.
The fight turned out to be a man (Trinidad) giving a boy (Vargas) a hard
earned lesson for 12 painful rounds. But the boy wouldn't give in to his
elder's fistic admonitions. Not until he was almost carried from the ring on
his proverbial shield, thanks to a brave referee named Jay Nady, who finally
stopped the fight ten seconds and one knockdown too late.
Luckily Vargas, even though he was taken to the hospital afterwards
complaining of nausea, seems just battered and beaten, not comatose, or
brain-scrambled, which could have easily been the case. Chalk that up to
Vargas' wonderful athletic conditioning and just plain luck. Other fighters
have not been so fortunate.
For all practical purposes, the fight was over 23 seconds into the first
round. Before some fight fanıs fannys hit their seats at the Mandalay Bay in
Las Vegas, the 27-year old Trinidad landed a booming left hook which exploded
on the right side of the 22-year old Vargas' face. Vargas' head went in one
direction and each leg in another, like a young colt trying to stop from
falling in a barn. A flurry of punches sent Vargas to the canvas for the
first time in his career. He was up at two, then down soon again from another
Trinidad left hook.
At that point, the fight appeared to be over. But somehow Vargas dug down
deep and survived the round. But his pre-fight strategy of moving and giving
Trinidad angles went out the window. The rest of the fight could've been
fought in a phone booth. Which was good for Trinidad, he of the limited leg
movement. And bad, very bad for Vargas, whose best change at winning was to
stop Trinidad from setting his feet to punch.
Still, over the next five rounds, Vargas summoned whatever ability not sapped
by the devastating power of Trinidadıs sledgehammer blows, and more than held
In round four, a Vargas left hook dropped Trinidad on the seat of his pants.
Trinidad was hurt for sure, but this is a man who is even more dangerous when
hurt, if a little wayward with the direction of his punches.
So Trinidad did what most street fighters do when their opponent has the
upper hand. He calmly got to his feet and hit Vargas right in the onions with
a left hook, so low, it seemed to drive Vargas' protector eight inches up
into his chest. Vargas called Trinidad a 'motherbeeper' in soprano (or maybe
it was a 'beeperfucker'), and ref Nady deducted one point from Trindad's
scorecard. Nady also gave Vargas all the time he needed to recover, but this
rest also gave Trinidad the time he needed to clear the cobwebs from his
addled brain. It was a cool, calculated move on Trinidad's part and maybe one
that stopped him from being KOıd himself.
From the sixth to the 11th rounds, both fighters gave and took scores of
legal and illegal punches. Trinidad lost another point for a low blow in the
seventh. And Vargas, not be be outdone in the smashing-onions department,
lost a point in the eighth for the same indiscretion. But as the fight wore
down, it was obvious Trinidadıs punches carried the much greater effect.
Going into the 12th and final round, Vargas needed a knockout on all
scorecards to win the fight. But it was Trinidad who answered the call, when
he stunned Vargas with an overhand right. Vargas stumbled back, then forward,
right into a rocket left hook that distorted his head like in a cartoon.
Vargas' face sprayed sweat and his mouth fell open, as his body cascaded
toward the canvas, his eyes agape and seeing nothing but flashing lights.
Somehow Vargas got to his feet and he immediately ran into another left hook.
This one deposited Vargas on all fours, his face staring at the canvas like:
'Is this a wall, the ceiling, or what?'
At this point the fight should have been stopped. Vargas was a sitting duck
for Trinidad's rocket launchers. And Vargas was so far behind on the
scorecards, the only way he could win the fight was if Trinidad had a heart
attack right there in the ring.
But Nady just rubbed Vargas' gloves against his (Nadyıs) shirt, and sent
Vargas right back into the mouth of the volcano. Another right and left by
Trinidad, and Vargas was reeling like he a drunk in a ginmill trying to
find the door to the men's room. Finally Vargas sprawled to the canvas in
stages, and Nady, at last taking the hint, stopped the fight at 1:33 of the
Trinidad, now 39-0, said afterward, 'Vargas was my toughest fight. He hit me
with a left hook and he hurt me a little, but I was in good condition.'
As for his penchant for firing blows below Vargas' Mason-Dixon line, ''The
first couple of times I hit him low, they were low,'' Trinidad said. ''The
third time it was not low. I was worried and I was afraid it would come to a
Vargas, now 22-1, was not available to speak after the fight. But the good
news is that Vargas is still able to speak. Weıll know for sure the next time
Vargas fights, just exactly how much Trinidad took out of him in the ring.
As for Trinidad, look for him to either fight IBF middleweight champ Bernard
Hopkins, himself a low-blow artist. Or maybe light heavyweight Roy Jones Jr,
not the bravest fighter in the world, at a compromise weight of 168 pounds.
Before Trinidad's fight with Vargas, I wouldıve given Trinidad no chance
against Jones Jr.. Now, after seeing how truly great Trinidad is, and how
much he wills himself to win despite all obstacles, Jones Jr. might be in for
a world of hurt when he gets into the same ring with Trinidad.
That is, if Jones has the balls to get in the ring with Trinidad in the first
place. And if Jones does have the balls, those same balls might make a pretty
target for Trinidadıs sweeping left hooks, transforming Jones' stout
baritone into a dead ringer for Tiny Tim.
Don't bet the ranch Roy Jones Jr. will take such a hazardous risk.