Boxing

Trinidad vs Mayorga: What Tito Will Show Up?

29.09.04 - By Paul Ruby: Felix Trinidad belongs on the short list of this generation’s great fighters with the likes of Lennox Lewis, Oscar de la Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, and Roy Jones, Jr. Like de la Hoya, Tito fought against the best of the welterweight division between 1994 and 1999. He moved successfully to junior middleweight and eventually middleweight before suffering the first loss of his career in his 41st fight; over half his fights have been for legitimate world titles. Tito, for better or worse, will always be linked with Oscar de la Hoya. They were rivals and fought in the highest-selling pay-per-view of all-time below heavyweight. This is not the forum to compare their historical greatness; it is a forum to discuss Trinidad’s upcoming fight with Ricardo Mayorga.

This is a very tough fight to forecast given Tito’s 28-month retirement. He has not fought since dominating Hassine Cherifi in May, 2002. Still, the book on Tito is not a very thick one. He’s primarily a slugger who throws caution to the wind. His left hook was, at one time, one of the best punches in boxing. His chin has been questioned, but I think those criticisms are not well-founded. He fights recklessly and exposes himself to punches few fighters do. I do not question his chin or his heart, but I do believe his defense could use some work. In his only loss, Bernard Hopkins admittedly used the same game-plan against Tito that Oscar de la Hoya did. It showed that can be outboxed, perhaps throws excessively wide punches, and has difficulty cutting off the ring on his opponent. In other words, the way to beat Tito is to take him out of his comfort zone and frustrate him on the way to a decision or late stoppage. Oscar, regardless of conspiracy theories, was on the way to doing this, but then gave away the final rounds as Trinidad was coming on and did not get the call from the judges.

History has established that Felix Trinidad can be outboxed, but also that it takes a pretty talented offensive and defensive fighter to succeed in doing so. Unless Tito somehow forgot how to fight in the last two years or is still gun-shy from the whupping Hopkins put on him, then I really see no reason to think Ricardo Mayorga will be able to beat him. I believe the two scenarios I just mentioned are highly unlikely, but the second may be possible. It is also possible that fight may have turned Tito into a slightly more mature and controlled fighter in the ring, which should be to his benefit.

There was a time when Ricardo Mayorga was one of the hottest commodities in boxing. His brash personality and successive wins over Vernon Forrest endeared him to American fight fans and ignited their passion for hard-hitting trash-talkers. Unfortunately, since then, he’s largely squandered his fame. He dropped a close fight to Cory Spinks, but it was a fight he did not deserve to win. He lost 2 points for rule violations in that bout, and I have little sympathy for him in that regard. After that fight, he didn’t even come close to making weight for a title fight against Jose Rivera. He was forced in with Eric Mitchell, won a decision, and looked pretty bad fighting against a guy he certainly should have stopped. For the scheduled bout with Rivera, Mayorga’s weight has been reported at 153 and 155 for a welterweight title fight. This, like the point deductions against Spinks, is something for which I have little sympathy. Boxing sanctioning bodies may be corrupt, but they’re not going to let a fighter completely disregard weight limits. It’s just not going to happen. Anyway, failing to make weight for a title fight is just stupid and immature in my opinion. Boxing is Mayorga’s career, and if he cared about it, he would have come in lighter than 153. Mayorga is also involved in rape charge that, if I were a betting man, would guess is pretty much totally bogus. That said, it shows more ignorance on his part. A celebrity – and a married man at that- should be intelligent enough to keep himself away from situations where he’s alone in a hotel room with a young woman that’s not his wife. There’s simply too much riding on his career for him to jeopardize it in any way. In other words, there’s a pattern of unprofessionalism in Mayorga’s behavior since triumphing over Forrest. As my father used to tell me, I think it’s clear that Mayorga is simply “cruisin’ for a bruisin’.”

In the ring, Mayorga’s a big puncher with an exciting style. He has a chance against anyone, but he also has a chance to get stopped himself. I would guess that latter will wind up happening on Saturday evening. I am hesitant to give Trinidad too much credit given his inactivity, but I cannot help myself from thinking he just has too many other advantages in this fight. Tito is larger and he is more used to the big-fight atmosphere. Tito will be supported by an enormous Puerto Rican contingent who have eagerly awaited his return. Tito is slightly more disciplined in the ring than Mayorga. I believe Trinidad will dictate most of the pace and find ways to avoid Mayorga’s bombs much of the time. I think it will be a war – an ugly war, but a war nonetheless – and, eventually, the better man will prevail. Given Tito’s history, advantages, and Mayorga’s recent track-record, I feel that man will be Felix Trinidad.

Trinidad TKO 8 Mayorga.

As always, questions are welcomed and encouraged : thepaulruby@hotmail.com

Article posted on 28.09.2004



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