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Trinidad Set To Fight

March 17, 2002
Copyright © 2002
PUERTORICOWOW. All Rights Reserved.

Those who haven't had the opportunity to attend a Félix "Tito" Trinidad fight in Puerto Rico will have a chance May 11. In fact, that will be the last chance.

The announcement was made last week by Félix Trinidad Sr. at a press conference called by San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini to confirm Roberto Clemente Coliseum will be the official site of the fight, which marks the return of the former three-time world champion Trinidad Jr.

"Definitely, it will be the last chance for Puerto Ricans to watch Tito fighting in Puerto Rico. I hope we get all the support we can from our fans," said Trinidad Sr. "It will be the last fight because we aren't planning to stay in boxing for much more time, probably two or three more fights, all the big ones, and I'm pretty sure they will be staged in the United States."

Trinidad, 40-1 with 34 knockouts, will face veteran Frenchman Hassim Cheriffi in a 10-rounder that could also include three other world championship bouts. Already confirmed are William Joppy, the World Boxing Association middleweight champion, defending against Keith Holmes, and Randall Bailey, the International Boxing Federation junior welterweight titlist facing Cuban challenger Diobelis Hurtado.

Another boxer from the Trinidad squad, World Boxing Organization mini flyweight champion Nelson Dieppa, is set for a mandatory defend against division top-ranked John Molina.

"However, we haven't heard from promoter Don King about that one. He told us last time that he would put Dieppa on the card, but he hasn't made it official," said Trinidad Sr. "Dieppa is already training for that fight because it has to be in May. I just hope we can have it on this card."

Mayor Santini said he was pleased because he wanted Trinidad's return to boxing to be in San Juan. He joined forces with promoter Angelo Medina to make a dream come true. "The municipality of San Juan is putting up $200,000 to help stage this big event in Puerto Rico," said Santini. "It's a big event because it marks Trinidad's return to boxing, and there are three other world-title bouts."

Still, Hector "Piwi" Pérez of Angelo Medina Productions said the event could go as high as $1 million in expenses. "The city of San Juan is putting in $200,000, but there are other expenses like the hotel for boxers, officials, and television crews, among many others," said Pérez. "We are still negotiating all this with Don King, but it shouldn't be any problem. It's all set to have that card here May 11."

Santini added he expects a full house because prices for the fight will be affordable for all boxing fans. "General entrance will be $35. I think it's a reasonable price for an event like this," said Santini. "Tickets are already on sale at Ticketmaster and La Gran Discoteca."

However, another of Trinidad Sr.'s fighters, heavyweight Fres Oquendo, may end up in the United States, facing top-ranked David Tua. Two weeks ago, when the announcement was made, the fight was to be in Puerto Rico. However, Trinidad Sr. said that chance is very remote. "We would love to have that fight here, but the reality is the budget would be too high for Puerto Rico to afford it," said Trinidad Sr., who also trains the unbeaten Oquendo, ranked among the top four in three world-boxing entities.

"We'll just have to wait and see what (fight promoter) Matt Tinley of America Presents has to say. He plans to come to Puerto Rico shortly to take a look at the coliseum, which I believe also would be the site."

Pérez said his group already began talks with America Presents. "We are just beginning to talk. They gave us a budget, which looks too high for us. But we plan to continue talking and see what we can do to bring that fight here," said Pérez. "For example, Showtime told us they would need $140,000 just to move their crew to Puerto Rico. For the Trinidad fight, HBO included that as part of a package, which was more reasonable."

Trinidad Sr. said he believes the fight will go to the United States. "My lawyer (Nicolas Medina) told me there's a casino in West Virginia that put $300,000 in to get the fight. We tried to match that, but we ran out of time," said Trinidad. "I don't want to give up hope, and we'll continue talks with America Presents. But the reality is that West Virginia is a front-runner right now."

The heavyweight Oquendo is coming from a sensational 2001 year in boxing. He upset unbeaten heavyweight Clifford Ethienne, sending him seven times to the canvas. The fight was shown on Showtime and the idea was for Ethienne to post an impressive win to get a millionaire contract with Showtime as the next heavyweight champion.

He then beat the favored Obed Sullivan to win the North American Boxing Association heavyweight title, knocking him out in the 10th round. He ended the year with another impressive victory--a third-round knockout against David Izon, who was at the door to fight for a world title. That put Oquendo among the best-four-ranked heavyweights in the world and set up the fight against Chris Byrd for the vacant IBF title. That fight could be next.

"Fres has shown he's ready for a title shot and he deserves it," said Trinidad Sr. "Don't ask me if that fight can be staged in Puerto Rico. First, let's wait for it to be official. But I can guarantee you that after Fres beats Tua next month, that title bout is next."

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