23.11.07 – By Matthew Hurley: On the day his two former opponents Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga will step into the ring against each other, Felix Trinidad attended a press conference with Roy Jones Jr. to hype their fight on January 19th at Madison Square Garden in New York. Where Vargas and Mayorga seethed and barked at each other every time they were within earshot of one another Trinidad and Jones kept things civil to the point of becoming almost cuddly. The two even embraced and smiled for photographers..
Jones, 51-4 with 38 KOs held court first and expressed his respect for Trinidad. “I don’t have bad blood with nobody,” he said. “I am revved up for fighting Tito. How can you not get revved up? He’s a great fighter.”
Trinidad, 42-2 with 35 KOs later returned the favor insisting that in Jones he knew he would be facing a great champion and a tough challenge. He also alluded to his extended layoffs between fights. Trinidad has only fought three times since his loss to Bernard Hopkins in September of 2001. His last fight was a desultory losing effort to Winky Wright in 2005 in which the Puerto Rican superstar dropped a lopsided unanimous decision.
“I have been out of boxing for two years, but everybody knows (that) I’m always in great shape,” he said, smiling. “That’s why I’m back in boxing. I know I can do it again and on January 19th, people will know Tito is ready and back.”
It remains to be seen if either fighter can even capture a glimpse of his former greatness. Jones hasn’t looked like the same spectacular athlete since lifting the WBA heavyweight title from John Ruiz in 2003. Ever since shedding the excess weight he added for that fight Jones’s reflexes and ability to take a punch have been sorely lacking. He was knocked out in back to back fights against Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson and then dropped a lackluster decision to Tarver in their third meeting. Since then he has racked up two wins over marginal opposition.
In speaking to the press Jones reiterated that he truly believes he’s back to where he once was. “After that fight (the loss to Tarver in the rubber match) I didn’t have that edge. Some days you wake up and you got to go to work. Some guys, they look forward to doing what they do. Now I’m to doing what I love to do. It’s going to be a great fight and a great night for boxing.”
In other boxing news, tickets for the Jermain Taylor – Kelly Pavlik rematch, set for February 16th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, go on sale Saturday, November 24th. Tickets are priced at $600, $400, $300, $200 and $100 and can be purchased at 10 am PST, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena box office. Tickets can also be purchased through Ticketmaster (702) 474-4000, with a limit of eight per individual order. The event will be broadcast on HBO pay per view.