After Felix Trinidad scored a dramatic twelfth round stoppage victory in an absolute war against Fernando Vargas, Tito was on top of the boxing world. The former unified IBF/WBC welterweight world champion was now the reigining IBF/WBA junior middleweight champion. Trinidad had a perfect record in 39 contests, he was 19-0 in title fights, and he was widely viewed as one of the very best (if not THE best) pound for pound boxer in the world. And despite the massive success of the rising Puerto Rican superstar, Trinidad still had his sights set even higher.
This paved the way for a four man middleweight tournament that featured Trinidad along with the three major title holders of the day, which included WBC middleweight champion Keith Holmes, WBA middleweight champion William Joppy, and IBF middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. The winner of this tournament would produce the first undisputed middleweight champion since Marvelous Marvin Hagler, a distinction he last held around 15 years earlier.
Hopkins was the longest reigning champion of the bunch, having held his IBF strap for several years during which time he made twelve successful defenses. But at 36 years old, Hopkins was considered to be too old and past his best. Despite never having fought as a middleweight, Trinidad was the big favorite going into the tournament.
The first bout was on April 14, 2001, when Hopkins won a lopsided decision against Keith Holmes, and the next bout on May 12, saw Trinidad outgun William Joppy in a brutal display of sheer power, proving that Trinidad still packed a mighty big punch at his new weight limit of 160 pounds. That set the stage for a final match-up between Trinidad and Hopkins, which was originally supposed to take place on September 15, but the fight was postponed for two weeks because of the terrorist attacks in New York City on 911. So the fight was pushed back two weeks until September 29, and this created a bit of an unusual situation where both boxers had been at or around there fighting weight for several weeks. The rest is history, as Hopkins thoroughly outclassed a game Trinidad en route to a 12th round stoppage.
This edition of Rummy’s Corner provides a quick recap and review of the 2001 Middleweight Tournament. Please watch and enjoy the video!