Boxing

Sharkie's Machine: The Glorious Return of Felix Trinidad

03.10.04 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr: Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Felix Trinidad returned to the ring after a two and a half year layoff and knocked out Ricardo Mayorga after eight rounds in the most exciting slugfest of the year.

Mayorga (his hair dyed red this time), started fast and tried to knock Tito out early with big haymakers that at times caught him. Trinidad proved he could take Mayorga's best shots. Mayorga even offered Trinidad the customary three free shots to his chin, which he does to demoralize opponents by showing that they can't hurt him. In the case of Tito Trinidad, that was a big, big mistake.

Trinidad's lean frame cloaks his power. Mayorga's bravado proved to be expensive. After allowing Trinidad to land three solid shots to his chin, he wasn't as strong as he might have been going into the next round. In fact, it was the bell that saved him from being floored in that round.


The Fight

Round 1
Mayorga started the fight like a wild man, trying to knock Trinidad out early with big power punches. He landed a few good shots but Trinidad took them without crumbling. Trinidad was patient and displayed serious improvements in his mobility.Mayorga offered his chin in taunting fashion, like he's done to other fighters. Tito landed three clean shots to his jaw but Mayorga just stood there and took them. Mayorga was trying to establish that Trinidad couldn't hurt him even if he let him. It was a mind game that Trinidad played to his advantage. Trinidad landed some good shots and was catching Ricardo at will. Mayorga looked like he might go down from the accumulation of Tito's punches before being saved by the bell. 10-9 Trinidad.

Round 2
Trinidad was on his toes, moving from side to side, popping his jab and catching Mayorga with clean shots. Mayorga missed some wild shots. When Mayorga did land, his best shots rarely landed flush. Tito countered him effectively. Mayorga wasted too much energy in the first round and was looking slower by the end of the second after tasting much leather from Trinidad, including the three freebies. You play-you pay. 10-9 Trinidad.

Round 3
Trinidad assumed the role of boxer-puncher, jabbing well and countering when Mayorga threw. Mayorga brawled his way in with power punches, looking for a knockout. During one exchange, Mayorga caught Trinidad with an overhand right that caused Tito to lose balance for a second and his right glove touched the canvas. It was ruled a knockdown and referee Steve Smoger rightly counted to eight with Trinidad standing in front of him. It wasn't a clean knockdown but it evened things up on my scorecard. Mayorga landed good shots that didn't seem to affect Trinidad too much. 10-8 Mayorga.

Round 4
Trinidad showed great hand speed as he peppered Mayorga's face with jabs, left hooks and straight lead right hands. Up to this point, there were no body shots being attempted by either fighter. They brawled all over the ring like a hurricane, with Trinidad showing off his new improved footwork. With 15 seconds left, Trinidad landed a body shot that hurt Mayorga, who moved his right elbow over his side, unable to hide the pain. A slugfest ensued. Mayorga missed a lot, while Trinidad was sharp as a razor and landing at a very high percentage. 10-9 Trinidad.

Round 5
The sound of 'oohs' and 'aahs' filled the air as Trinidad landed regularly, countering Mayorga's offense with damaging shots. Mayorga looked tired but kept coming forward. Trinidad landed at will with sharp, powerful punches, one of which cut Mayorga under his left eye. With Mayorga's face looking like a bleeding pumpkin they brawled all over the ring until Trinidad caught Mayorga up against the ropes and banged him up bad, really punishing him. Mayorga has a gigantic heart and a huge chin, but how much more could he take? Late in the round, Mayorga looked ready to fall apart as Trinidad pummeled him. By the way things were going-a knockout was inevitable. Trinidad put such a beat down on Mayorga I had to score it-10-8 Trinidad.

Round 6
Trinidad's footwork was excellent, always stepping from side to side, confusing Mayorga and landing at will. Mayorga was taking a beating when Trinidad landed a low blow to his hip and Smoger calls time so Mayorga can recover. Ricardo took about 90 seconds to breath and then indicated he was ready to continue. When action resumed, Mayorga left no doubt that he's a
true warrior. Summoning his will, Ricardo forced the action, throwing big punches that landed. Trinidad always answered with more telling blows. Near the end of the round, Mayorga landed a body shot that backed Tito up. It was too little, too late for Mayorga. But what a battle! 10-9 Trinidad.

Round 7
They boxed at center ring, Mayorga complained to Smoger that Trinidad was holding behind the head and hitting. Mayorga pressed the action and landed some shots (mostly arm punches). Fatigue was restricting his power. Trinidad looked relaxed but intense as he bounced on his feet the way he used to, only now, moving from side to side revealing a new wrinkle in his game. Trinidad's footwork effectively threw Mayorga off balance and reducing the effects of his punches. Trinidad landed a body shot and Mayorga turned to Smoger for help but the ref did nothing and Mayorga quickly turned back to Trinidad who was winding up to punish him some more. Trinidad landed a big uppercut and a variety of shots that rocked Mayorga. 10-9 Trinidad.

In his corner, Mayorga's left eye was closing under a golf ball sized swelling, his face a mess. He was beat up. His corner was in panic mode, imploring him to throw low blows if Trinidad threw low and do whatever he had to do. This was war!

In Tito's corner, he looked fresh. No bumps, no bruises, no blood and no signs of fatigue. Before the start of the eighth, Trinidad stood imposingly in his corner, flexed his right arm and pounded his biceps. HE was the man with the power. Not Mayorga. The fans at the Garden showered him with cheers.

Round 8
Mayorga came on aggressively, throwing and trying desperately to catch Tito with a KO punch. Again, Trinidad was patient and waited for his opening to rev up his offense. Tito caught Mayorga with crisp combinations and stunned him. Smelling blood, Trinidad went in for the kill and while throwing lots of shots upstairs, he landed a sneaky left to the body that dropped Mayorga to the canvas. Mayorga got up at the count of 9 and disregarded the pain. He attacked Trinidad, who attacked back and caught Mayorga with multiple shots that sent him to the canvas for a second time. Mayorga rose again and as they exchanged punches, Trinidad landed a left hook that floored Mayorga for a third and final time. Referee Steve Smoger had seen enough and stopped it.

It was over, Trinidad won by KO 8.

Statistics:
Total Punches
Trinidad- 290 landed. 460 thrown. 63%
Mayorga- 141 landed. 564 thrown. 25%

Power Punches
Trinidad- 218 landed. 329 thrown. 66%
Mayorga- 128 landed. 391 thrown. 33%

* * *

Felix "Tito" Trinidad returned to the ring after being away for over two years. He could have taken the safe route, common for most fighters coming back from long layoffs or retirement. Instead, he chose one of the toughest men in boxing-the vicious, big punching, stone chinned, Ricardo Mayorga. Trinidad looked to be in amazing shape, have an improved offense, footwork and defense. It sounds crazy but it looked like even his chin is better. He took a lot of big shots from Mayorga all through the fight and never wavered.

Who expected Trinidad to be THIS good after so long a layoff? Ricardo Mayorga is a strong fighter, with a killer attitude. He's no walk in the park for anyone. Cory Spinks would be wise to avoid a rematch with him anytime soon because if he catches you, you better have a big beard or its lights out. Trinidad showed some amazing developments since being away. His footwork has improved tremendously, his tempo is sharper and his punching power is as good as before, maybe better. So what's next for Felix Trinidad? The prospects are huge.

A rematch with Bernard Hopkins would be exciting and highly profitable. His prospects for victory much higher now with his improved mechanics and the compliment of his famously great stamina. Trinidad's body has filled out some and his power has moved up well with him to middleweight. Who on Earth would miss that rematch?

I think Trinidad would find a very lucrative payday in a rematch with Oscar De La Hoya. If Oscar's heart is still in the ring, it would be a great fight to see. I have to admit-I like Trinidad to win that rematch comfortably since these days, DLH fades in the later rounds while Trinidad seems to have endless stamina. Being off for two plus years seems to have done wonders for
him.

The way Trinidad looked against the hard-hitting Mayorga; I can't see him losing to anyone from 154 to 160. Slick southpaw and Jr. Middleweight Champion Winky Wright would be a good match up at a catch weight. It would be the kind of high profile fight Winky's been looking for to finish his career.

I'd like to see Trinidad vs. Jermain Taylor (who should be fighting at 168 since he looks like he's at least 175-pounds in the ring). Taylor looked great against faded, former Welterweight Raul Marquez but how well would Taylor fare against a great former Welterweight who's still got it and brought it with him to 160? Don't hold your breath waiting for that one. As we've seen from the likes of Jeff Lacy, it takes years before these "hot prospects" ever fight a real good fighter let alone a great one.

Whatever Trinidad decides, he ought to go straight after the best out there. I hope its Hopkins. There'd be no point in going after anyone less than a World Champion, since Tito is a World Class Fighter. They say styles make fights. Trinidad's style has improved dramatically.

May the Gods of Boxing make it happen. It would be a great way to start 2005.

* * *

Agree or disagree? Comments can be sent to dshark87@hotmail.com

Article posted on 03.10.2004



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