Hopkins vs. Trinidad: Revisited

26.04.05 - By Dan Frost: With there being alot of talk and speculation in recent months regarding the eagerly awaited rematch between current undisputed middleweight champion and future hall of famer Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins and the popular Puerto Rican puncher Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad, I was drawn into revisiting their first encounter which took place on Sept 29th 2001(the fight was actually rescheduled due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks). Both fighters were at the time looking to unify the WBC/WBA/IBF titles and to also become the first undisputed middleweight champion since the great Marvin Hagler in the 1980’s.

What I find extremely remarkable to this very day regarding the build up to the fight was, despite Hopkins having a stellar and dominant career at middleweight, to which Trinidad had recently ascended, Hopkins had entered the fight a 3-1 underdog?

Sure, I can see why some some alike where looking to the Puerto Rican to lift the undisputed crown. The 28 year old was undefeated at the time with a 40-0 (33 KO's) ledger and considered one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. Already a champion at welterweight and light-middleweight, he holds victories over top contenders and former champions such as Hector Camacho, David Reid, Pernell Whitaker, Fernando Vargas & Oscar De La Hoya, Felix was looking to add his WBA title (which he won with a 5th round TKO over the highly respected William Joppy) to Hopkins WBC and IBF titles. Hopkins, who at the time held a record of 39-2-1-1(28 KO's) and hails from the tough streets of Philadelphia. He spent several years in prison for armed robbery before turning to boxing to escape the tough way of life to which he came accustom to. Since winning the IBF title in April 1995 he has beaten every challenger he has faced, more than convincingly, and has not lost since being outpointed by the talented multi-weight champion Roy Jones Jr. in May 1993.

The trash talk and build up also aroused it’s far share of controversy. At a press conference, Hopkins managed to get under the skin of many Trinidad and many puerto ricans by throwing their national flag down on the floor, he certainly wasn’t making any new fans with this ploy.

Trinidad was expected to be to quick and to fast for the 36 year old champion, as Hopkins has been known to be a notoriously slow starter. What unfolded was a truly impressive and systematic beating for the much favoured Trinidad! Hopkins used his ring generalship and counter punching to gradually wear down the puerto rican. As expected! the smaller Trinidad started fast and took the first couple rounds, by the 3rd Hopkins was consistently moving to his left avoiding Trinidads powerful left hook. while trading hooks himself midway through the round, the ageing underdog was soon starting to take control of the action.

In the 5th round, Hopkins was landing some hurtful left hooks, Trinidad was counted by a terrific right as the busier Hopkins continued to get the better of the exchanges with the cleaner work.

The 6th saw the most intense action of the bout, the fighters engaged in a furious barrage of flying leather that had the fight fans in the Garden screaming with delight. Trinidad, was beginning to show his frustration, as Hopkins was countering shots off the ropes, Trinidad was warned for using his right elbow as the exciting round concluded.

Again fighting off the ropes in the 10th, Hopkins landed with a hard right to the head. Trinidad’s punches now seemed to have no effect and only seemed to spur on Hopkins, followed by another exchange, Trinidad was nailed by a right uppercut to the chin that seemed to daze him, all the warning signs were then beginning to show.

Coming out of the 11th round. Trinidad looked well and truly desperate as well as out on his feet and was looking very vulnerable to Hopkins onslaught. By the 12th, with Tito’s will totally broke and the fight being pretty much in the bag for The Executioner, instead of cruising to victory - Hopkins piled on the pressure and unleashed a thunderous right cross that put Trinidad on the seat of his pants. As he struggled to his feet, referee Steve Smooger waived of the contest to avoid any
more punishment for the now ex-champion and what was left was a remarkable victory for the Philadelphian.

"I'm the best middleweight in the world. I just needed an opportunity to prove it," said the elated Hopkins afterwards.

"He's a great fighter," said the soft-spoken Trinidad. "I thought the fight was even until the end."

After a easy win over frenchman Hassine Cherifi, Tito announced his early retirement from the sport claiming he wanted out why still in good health - some might say the fight was beaten out of him that night?Followed by a over 2 years out of the ring, Trinidad came out of retirement and looked good as ever dismantling and eventually knocking out former WBC/WBA welterweight brawler Ricardo Mayorga last october. Next up is a harder than people think match up with undisputed light-middleweight champion and slick southpaw Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright on May 14th. A fight he must win if he wishes to secure another shot at the undisputed crown.

Next up for Hopkins is the divisions young successor Jermain Taylor which looks to take place in July. Should both be successful, and should Hopkins current court battle with former promoter Don King end amicably the rematch should be closer to reality.

The question is, how bad does Trinidad want this? has he learned from his past experience with The Executioner and has he got what it takes to de-throne the feared and long reigning champ on the second time of asking? especially as he seems to be getting better with age and no sign of slowing down at 40 years old.

If not, it could all become another painful lesson!

Article posted on 26.04.2005

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