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PUERTO RICO HERALD
Trinidad Unmoved By Hopkins' Taunts
By Gabrielle Paese
August 30, 2002
Copyright © 2002 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.
One thing's clear after last Saturday's Don King-backed Little Giants fight card in Carolina's Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium: It's going to take more than Bernard Hopkins' taunts to draw Felix "Tito" Trinidad back into boxing.
Hopkins, who flew down to San Juan last week in Don King's private jet specifically to see Trinidad, looked positively disappointed Saturday night prior to the main event after Trinidad was a no-show for a short Showtime-produced video montage in his honor.
Hopkins, who holds all the alphabet-soup titles at middleweight, paced inside the ring, and tried to enlist the support of the fans present.
"I want you all to write and e-mail Papa Trinidad [Felix Sr.] to make this fight happen," said Hopkins, who KOed Trinidad last September and handed the Puerto Rican champ his first loss in 40 starts.
"Tell Papa Trinidad to make the fight happen," Hopkins told the crowd of about 5,000. "I'm going to give him an opportunity to redeem himself whenever he wants but it's gotta be soon."
Don King, sounding as desperate as Hopkins, joined in the plea.
"Papa we need you. Papa please give Tito one last chance. Do it for Puerto Rico. Bernard has signed, let Tito sign too. We don't have to look for Bernard he's right here. Everything is ready for you guys."
Trinidad Sr., however, reiterated again that it will never happen.
While his son was absent, Trinidad Sr. was in the corner of his boxer, Alberto DeJesus Trinidad, who TKOd Catano's Rafael Sierra in the undercard.
"Tito's not coming out of retirement. That's not going to happen, no matter how much money he offers," said Trinidad Sr.
"The rematch is not going to happen," Trinidad Sr. told Hopkins after the fights. "You proved you're the super champion and the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. We wish you the best. We'll never look back. We have to be firm and not let Puerto Rico down."
The fight, by the way, took a backseat to the Don King-Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones Jr. drama going on on the sidelines (Hopkins was also at the fight to beg Roy Jones Jr. to fight him).
According to both King and Hopkins, the two worked out an agreement for Hopkins' next fight, no small accomplishment considering Hopkins spurned a $10.5 million three-fight Showtime offer made earlier this year that would have sent him into the ring to fight Morrade Hakkar, Joe Calzaghe and Harry Simon.
"He's desperate for a fight and he needs to fight me because he messed up his deal with Showtime," Jones Jr. said in the dressing room prior to Saturday's main event.
Jones Jr., who managed the career of WBA featherweight champ Derrick Gainer, was in Puerto Rico to accompany his fighter.
"The hard part of the job is over now that Hopkins set up a deal with Don King. Now it's just a matter of having to listen to Bernard Hopkins talk shit."
Playing a supporting role, the two main events will forever remain in the background. Both matches Gainer's defense versus Daniel Seda and the WBO flyweight champ Nelson Dieppa defense versus John A. Molina ended in technical draws. According to local boxing expert and Ring Magazine columnist, Mario Rivera Martino, Saturday was the first time in recorded boxing history that two headliners ended exactly the same way in the same round (Round 2).
The fight was also a disaster on a local level for site promoter Benjamin Rivera (owner of the Carolina Gigantes in the Puerto Rico Winter League and rights-holder for the 2003 Caribbean Series. Just 5,000 fans turned out for the open-air fight card, and it would be difficult to determine exactly how many paid.
A late Saturday afternoon rain storm likely gave would-be fans second thoughts, but it's also possible that Puerto Rico's less die-hard boxing fans are not interested in watching the lighter weight boxers either that or they just preferred to stay at home and watch it on Showtime.
It's interesting to note that last month, the same venue, Clemente Stadium, was filled to overflowing for a local professional wrestling match. Hmmm· Maybe Puerto Rican fans prefer matches they know are fake to fights they can't be sure about.
Carlos "Sugar" De Leon, Jr., (4-0-1, 4 KOs) who KOed Miguel Arias in the third round of their four-round super middleweight bout on the Saturday Little Giants undercard, will fight again on Friday for the second time in six days.
De Leon Jr., the son of Puerto Rican legend and former WBC cruiserweight champion Carlos "Sugar" De Leon (52-8-1, 33 KOs), fights Friday night on a lackluster fight card scheduled for Hatillo, Puerto Rico versus Camuy's Sigfredo Soler, who is making his pro debut.
"I feel good and ready to fight again, because Saturday's fight was not that difficult for me," said De Leon Jr.
Puerto Rico Boxing Commissioner Jose "Toto" Penagaricano said that there is nothing in the rule books to prevent Puerto Rico's pro boxers from fighting twice in one week.
"The medical commission will evaluate him but he is fine and he can fight two days in a row if he so desires," said Penagaricano.
Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.