30.09.04 – By Lee Hayes: This coming weekend boxing is about to get a good indication as to the direction the sport is going to follow for the next few years. Former welterweight king, and middleweight title belt holder, Felix Trinidad will be making a return to the ring after a nearly 30 month lay off from the sport of boxing. His return will be no tune up against a hopeless club fighter (as was our last memory of Trinidad, when he faced off against Hassine Cherifi. No, his first fight back will be no easy, “gimme” fed to him by a greed motivated Don King. Don’t misunderstand, King would gladly oblige if that was the way Papa and Tito wanted it. It’s the Trinidad’s that wanted the fight with Ricardo Mayorga. Originally, they wanted Tito’s first fight back to be against Sugar Shane Mosely, or possibly Winky Wright. Mayorga is no push over, still, one can’t help but think the conflicting schedules of both Mosely and Wright has benefited Trinidad the most.
Mayorga is formidable, but he also seems tailor made for Felix. Ricardo Mayorga possesses nothing near the skill that Bernard Hopkins used to dismantle Tito and his lack of fundamentals restricts him to a very basic line of offense. Rush forward and bomb from all directions. Use machismo to intimidate opponent. Feed off of the crowd reaction. Against good fighters, this can be advantageous. Trinidad however, is not just “good”, he is one of those special, one in a life time deals. He has that certain quality that makes a fighter shine and stick out amongst his peers. Of course his superior conditioning, technical skill, gaudy left hook to the head or body and mammoth sized heart, have played a big part in his success too.
My prediction for this weekend is Trinidad by KO in 7. That Felix “Tito” Trinidad makes his long awaited return, and in his first fight back, a barn burner with wicked brawler Ricardo Mayorga…Trinidad shows why he is/was considered by many (myself included), the best Puerto Rican fighter of all-time. He will completely out class Mayorga, because Mayorga gets a lot of his wins through intimidation, ala Tyson. He scares his opponents, because it’s hard to go up against an opponent who appears to not care about a damn thing, including life or death. It’s hard to get up for a fight like that. A very good fighter like Vernon Forrest couldn’t do it. He was the better boxer, had all of the advantages, more speed and a much deeper pedigree. Still, it was clear that he was intimidated by the wild swinging, Nicaraguan madman. Trinidad, on the other hand, is not and has never been intimidated by anybody. He is as sure of himself as any fighter in the history of the sport ever was. He feels the pride of his native country, not as a burden -as some fighters might claim- but as a personal motivational tool that seems to drive him to excellence time and time again. It may be the missing factor in a fighter like a Roy Jones Jr. An individualist. When Roy gets hurt, he has nobody to fall back on. No shoulders to carry him. He stays down. He probably never felt more alone in his life then when he was KO’d by Glencoffe Johnson last week. Trinidad can never know how that feels. When he gets knocked down, he rises immediately, more determined than ever to finish his opponent. Sure, he lost to Bernard Hopkins -the best middleweight since Marvin Hagler, and a guaranteed Hall of Famer Himself- and there is no shame in that.
This fight simply comes down to skill set, pedigree, talent and ability to deliver. Felix Trinidad brings all of these things to the table, and the only thing that Ricardo Mayorga has, is the over used cliché, “punchers chance” strategy. It doesn’t say much for your chances, when the public generally assumes that your only hope in winning, your only chance for success, is your opponents potential ring rust. That’s what this fight comes down to…”has Tito really slipped THAT much??” Simply, the answer for now is, “no”, Trinidad’s father has done a masterful job of training his son and they have a very close relationship. Papa Trinidad has always made sure that his son was prepared for every fight. This includes the Hopkins fight. In that fight, the win had more to do with what Hopkins was able to do at his best. The bouts outcome had more to do with Bernard coming in to his greatness than it did with Felix failing.
Finally, this weekend’s fight is guaranteed to be one of the most exciting action bouts of our generation. I’ve heard Mayorga vs. Vernon Forrest compared to a poor mans Halger vs Hearns. Truth be told, stylistically and power wise, this fight is probably closer and may well supersede the expectations. Expectations that have been discombobulated since DeLaHoya and Roy Jones Jr. were recently both stopped in high profile bouts.
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