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What’s Next For Felix Trinidad?

By Gabrielle Paese

May 17, 2002
Copyright © 2002 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

Now that he got his comeback out of the way with a fourth-round TKO of Hacine Cherifi last Saturday night in San Juan, Félix "Tito" Trinidad can sit back and survey his options.

Father/trainer Félix Trinidad Sr. wants a rematch with Bernard Hopkins next. Trinidad Sr. has a meeting scheduled with Don King later this month and he's made it clear that a Hopkins-Trinidad rematch is his main goal.

Whether or not his wish will come true remains to be seen.

What is both wonderful and at the same time maddening about boxing is that it's 70 percent hype and 30 percent athletic display. Which means we'll probably be talking about potential lineups for the next several months.

Here are a few possible scenarios.

1. Hopkins fights Roy Jones Jr. first while Trinidad meets Oscar De La Hoya.

2. Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas reschedule their canceled showdown for September, Hopkins fights Roy Jones Jr. and Trinidad fights WBO middleweight champion Harry Simon while he waits for either Hopkins or De la Hoya.

3. Hopkins fights Harry Simon as part of a WBO-Showtime deal, De La Hoya and Vargas don't reschedule their fight and Trinidad fights De La Hoya in a rematch in the meantime.

I could go on, but you already get the picture. The matchups are endless.

Meanwhile, King is already negotiating with Bob Arum, De La Hoya's promoter, about a potential De La Hoya-Trinidad rematch.

Hopkins said earlier this week that he'll give Trinidad a rematch -- if the price is right. Turnabout is fair play because in their last fight (which Hopkins won by TKO in the 12th round), Trinidad got a bigger share of the purse than Hopkins.

Hopkins said if he gets what he's asking for, he'd even accede to a rematch in San Juan.

"This is all a farce. Don King knows that Trinidad will never beat me, and it may be an intent to fuel a Trinidad-Oscar De La Hoya encounter."

Maybe. Maybe not.

Trinidad Sr. has decided on a rematch with Hopkins and "Papa Trinidad" (as Don King calls him) can be pretty stubborn once he makes up his mind.

"The next fight we want is Hopkins. Tito wants to fight Hopkins," said Trinidad Sr. "It doesn't make any sense to wait for De La Hoya or for anyone else. If De La Hoya fights in September we would have to wait too long for our next fight and in reality, De La Hoya doesn't really want a rematch with Tito."

The world looms large before the Cupey Alto native, who is now 41-1, with 34 KOs. Although Cherifi was not considered a threat, Trinidad got the knockout he needed to dispel any doubts regarding his abilities since the loss to Hopkins. He was able to show the boxing world that getting knocked out by Hopkins hasn't made him a more tentative boxer.

This is good for Trinidad, who despite the loss to Hopkins is still ranked among the best boxers in the world pound-for-pound. At 28, the five-time world champion, who has only been a middleweight for the past year (three fights) has plenty of boxing left in him. Before coming up against Hopkins, he was undefeated and had earned world championships in three weight classes.

Already in San Juan, fans are thinking that maybe the loss to Hopkins was a blip on the screen, a scratch in a custom paint job. Give Trinidad another couple months and he'll have completely forgotten Hopkins' steady jab in his face last Sept. 29.

Trinidad Sr. is right on the money to pursue a rematch with Hopkins. That's what fans want to see and King will eventually set it up, especially because both boxers are his. It's just a question of when.

After beating Cherifi last Saturday, Trinidad incited Puerto Rican fans to remember Hopkins' disrespect for the Puerto Rican flag during their pre-fight press conferences last year.

"I want to fight Hopkins. They're might be a change if Don King wants me to fight De La Hoya, but I want Hopkins.

"I'm not saying I don't want De La Hoya, but first I want Hopkins. If my next fight is with Hopkins, I assure you that I am going to make him pay for everything he has said and done. [Trinidad then made a throat-slashing gesture and said] "I will chop his neck."

Who is Puerto Rican?

Last week, Puerto Rico's Superior Basketball League dusted off an old clause in its rule book and applied it to 17-year-old 7-foot center Peter John Ramos, who plays in the local league for the Caguas Criollos.

The verdict: Peter John Ramos, who was born in Puerto Rico, of Puerto Rican parents and lived on the island until the age of 8, is not Puerto Rican.

Go figure.

League players fall into three classifications -- Puerto Ricans, Newyorricans and imports. The "Newyorrican clause" dates back to the Œ60s when the Puerto Rico basketball team recruited sons of Puerto Ricans who lived in the states to come back and play for the island.

According to SBL director Miguel Laborde, Ramos has to have lived on the island for the past three years to be considered Puerto Rican.

Huh? Is Laborde kidding? What does it really take to be Puerto Rican if being born and spending half of your life on the island doesn't cut it? I mean, hey, if a guy who never even set foot in San Juan can represent Puerto Rico in the Winter Olympics (Mike Gonzalez, two-man bobsled, Salt Lake City Games), why can't a kid from Caguas, and a 7-footer at that? Get with the program, Laborde.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On the other hand, as we report in this issue, Gov. Sila Calderon has a drive afoot to get mainland Puerto Ricans to register to vote and she plans to spend $4.5 million to do it. In the governor's book, those mainland Puerto Ricans are bona fide Puerto Ricans.

So why is the Superior Basketball League taking such issue with Ramos, who will be Puerto Rican whether he takes up residence in New York (where the governor wants all Puerto Ricans to register) or Caguas or Germany. Is Marc Anthony any less Puerto Rican because he lives in New York? Or is being Puerto Rican just a badge, or flag, of convenience to be worn or hoisted at one's convenience -- political or otherwise?


Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the most recent recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at

Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.

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