War of Words: Tito Trinidad vs. Roy Jones Jr

felix trinidad15.11.07 - By Scoop Malinowski: It is a pleasure to welcome the return of Felix Trinidad back to big time boxing at the New Yorker Hotel across from Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue, the same hotel Muhammad Ali did press interviews from his hotel bed after the Frazier defeat some 36 years earlier.

It's always been a pleasure to cover the beloved five-time world champion Felix Trinidad, who always seems in a great mood and full of smiles at any boxing functions, whether it be entering the ring for a major fight, shaking out at a media workout, or even sitting through a press conference with a horde of boxing media, hosted by Don King with a two-hour agenda worth of talking points to address.

The recent press conference for "Jones vs. Trinidad: Titans" was no exception. Tito is still Tito, at 34 he still looks like the great fighter we all remember, and he still has the natural ability to bring fun and smiles to radiate a room or arena with his positive energy. And on top of that, Tito is polite and cordial, and patiently will do any interview, and long-time friend and translator Jose Ramos will help everyone who needs some time with Tito.

Jones, the eight-time world champ, was once again late to another press conference. Well, at least this time, it was under an hour late, which is pretty good by his standards. Though we'll give him a pass because it gave us more time with Tito and Roy did seem under the weather with some kind of cold and cough. Jones also seems very energized and happy to be back to the big show. But New York is and always will be Tito's town.

Though the decided underdog for this fascinating January 19 winter showdown between two future Hall of Famers, Tito will be by far the huge sentimental favorite inside a sold-out and electric hot Madison Square Garden.

Let's get to the war or words, which bordered on polite respect for the most part, but tantalizingly crossed the line a few times, into serious and slightly hostile territory, in the form of some bold promises:

Felix Trinidad: "Roy Jones is going to be my fourth gold medalist who I am going to beat. I already beat three of them ... Pernell Whitaker ... David Reid and ... (then Tito paused a little longer for effect) ... Chicken De La Hoya [the room erupted in laughter, even Roy chuckled too]. And Roy is gonna be my fourth...We know he's been a great champion. This time I'm 100% dedicated. We will pass this fight with a victory. It will go down in history as the most exciting fight for me."

Felix Trinidad Sr.: "I'm so happy I'm training too. I'm not training to fight you - it's going to be my son - but it will be to help him with the passion that I did in the past. And Tito will beat you badly on January 19. Be ready. Tito will give your worst defeat in history."

Roy Jones Jr.: "We are both phenomenal punchers and it will depend on who gets there first. I will guarantee this: this will be a super-fight that delivers the goods."

Don King: "This will be a fight for the ages and will be remembered among the great events I have ever staged. Tito and Roy - it doesn't get any better than that!"

Both fighters arranged for the photo op and both seemed to pump themselves up standing there waiting for the inevitable moment when Kelly Swanson's shout came for the stare-down. It was awesome to witness this. A good, long one too! Lots of respect but at the same time, lots of psyching was taking place, like smiles and subtle shows of confidence, bravado, fists, number ones. It never crossed the line like that immature clown Mayweather would do, these were two mature, respectful living legends, representing the sport of boxing with honor and class. The way it should be. When the two were done after a good minute or even two, they shook hands like friends, and smiled to each other with some slight but genuine affection. It was an awesome press conference and moment.

I tell you this press conference now has me doubly interested to see this great battle on January 19. Will Tito electrify Madison Square Garden once again, like only he can? Will the formidable specter of Roy Jones motivate and inspire Trinidad to be at the ultimate peak of his passion and powers - something 'Winky' Wright clearly failed to do for him? Will Roy Jones be able to once again overcome those shattering KO defeats to Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver, so he can, in effect, leave the sport on his terms and as a winner with his head held high?

You have to credit the 75-year-old Don King, he's pulled a rabbit out of his once again with this one.

Scoop's book "Lewis vs. Tyson Heavyweight Armageddon! The Inside Story about one of Boxing's Biggest Money Fights" will be published in 2008.

Article posted on 16.11.2007

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