IBF Welterweight Kingpin and pound-for-pound entrant Felix Trinidad returned to his home country of Puerto Rico for a welterweight title defense against unknown Mahenge Zulu of Zaire.

Trinidad needed little more than 11 minutes to dispatch of his game challenger. Zulu (17-3-1) came prepared to put up a good showing, but not much else. When Felix began the first round circling the ring without throwing, Zulu was content to stand opposite him in equal inactivity. Trinidad (33-0/29) began moving his arms only a bit more in the second. His quick jab and lead left hooks only needed to land a few times before his challenger's mouth was bloodied.

In the third, Trinidad began unleashing his weapons more frequently and with excellent accuracy. Using an economy of punches Trinidad was able to land, then use a solid defense to avoid most of the countering. When Trinidad finally aimed a couple of punches at Zulu's body in the fourth, it became apparent that the end was near. Sapped of what speed he may have had, Zulu began to fold as Trinidad was spurred on by a rabid crowd. Finally, two left hooks brought the fight to it's inevitable conclusion. The first stunned Zulu, and the second dropped him hard. The referee's count was unnecessary; Zulu shook his head to indicate either that he didn't want to continue or that he couldn't. Probably both.

Trinidad KO4

Basking in his victory, Trinidad was immediatly confronted with the name that every fighter from 140 to 154 is asked about: Oscar DelaHoya. While Trinidad seemed content with his own shiny belt, it was apparent that a DelaHoya bout is the fight he craves. Trinidad, who only recently had vowed to stay at 154 lbs., looked to be in fine shape, but was reported to be entering the ring at 160. With that type of struggle to make weight, a bout with DelaHoya must be the reason Tito has decided to remain at 147.

But at what cost? Trinidad got off to an ever slower start than usual tonight. The extra hours in the steam room may be sapping him too much. His power remains extraordinary (even if his choice of opponents doesn't) and his speed did not seem to be diminished, but this was not a fight that presented a great challenge. Indeed, Trinidad's schedule may be his biggest weakness. Having only fought one round (against the weaponless Troy Waters) in the past 15 months, Trinidad's King-padded roster isn't aiding him. He needs the fight with Oscar DelaHoya not for the big payday he'll surely garner, nor for the WBC strap he may add to his collection, but to get the stardom he feels he deserves. On behalf of the boxing fans, I hope it's an opportunity he receives.

Side note: The inevitable finally happened tonight. The ring collapsed. After referee Luis Ramon Rivas waved the fight over, the usual avalanche of cornermen, press, entourages, officials, camera crews, and all-access pass wearers descended on the ring...and then the ring descended on them. The center of the ring collapsed to form a large hole. A few people fell, but there were no major injuries.

Luckily, the situation was easily remedied by employing the following safety plan: Bring more people into the ring. As security people entered the ring and no one exited, the Showtime broadcasters jumped to their feet, certain that the ring would completly and totally collapse. It didn't. And it's a good thing. Despite the comic absurdity of the situation, 100 plus people engaging in a simultaneous and sudden 8 foot drop would have surely resulted in some fairly serious injuries....especially to Zulu, who had not yet gotten up off the canvas when the ring began to give.

Only in boxing.

.....Chris Bushnell


© 2001 Chris Bushnell. All rights reserved.

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