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Trinidad Coming Out Of Retirement? Volleyball, Golf Notes

By Gabrielle Paese

December 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

The biggest news of 2002 was Felix "Tito" Trinidad's retirement. Now, with 2003 drawing to a close, Trinidad again overshadowed the biggest stories of the year with the bomb he dropped two weeks ago at the Don King fight card in Atlantic City headlined by John Ruiz and Hasim Rahman.

To's Frank Lotierzo, Trinidad uttered those three little words: "I'll be back" and Puerto Rico has been reeling in the aftershock ever since. Trinidad always favored the stateside media as his messenger and this time it was no different. It took Luis Santiago Arce, of the Spanish daily El Nuevo Dia, more than two weeks to catch up to Trinidad so the former three-time world champion could confirm the news: "I feel the itch and the time is now."

Puerto Rico Boxing Commissioner Jose "Toto" Penagaricano said he's not surprised to hear Trinidad announce his return to the squared circle.

"The last time I talked to him I said, ŒTito, you're looking solid,' and I asked him if he planned to box again," said Penagaricano. "He told me he was thinking about it. I guess he's weighing about 175, 180 [pounds]."

At this point, with Trinidad still "thinking about it," there are more questions than answers. Trinidad retired with two years left on his contract under boxing mogul Don King. The contract is officially up in August of 2004. Lawyers are at odds over whether Trinidad is liable for the unused portion of his contract.

Then there's the subject of Felix Trinidad Sr., who also tendered his unconditional retirement from the sport. Trinidad Sr has expressed no interest in returning and his trainer's license also expires in 2004.

At what weight would Trinidad return? His last campaign at 160 was also his first loss, to Bernard Hopkins, who, by the way, could really use a rematch against Trinidad to boost his career. Trinidad was 41-1-0, 34 KO at the time of his retirement and held titles in three weight classes during his outstanding career.

USC wins second NCAA women's volleyball title

Deborah Seilhammer, of Ponce, got an extra special Christmas present this week when the school she plays volleyball for, the University of Southern California, scored a 3-1 victory over the University of Florida Gators to take the NCAA title, 25-20, 30-27, 30-19, 30-27.

It was a hard-luck loss for the NCAA's hottest player, Aury Cruz, who led third-seeded Florida with 18 kills and 18 digs. Florida finished the season 37-2 and its last three losses of the season were to USC, which finished 35-0. Cruz was SEC MVP this season.

Women's volleyball team comes up short at Olympic qualifying

Meanwhile, with Cruz busy at the NCAA final, Puerto Rico's women's volleyball team struggled last week at Olympic qualifying in Santo Domingo, finally bowing to Cuba in four sets, 25-20, 17-25, 20-25 and 11-25. Cuba and the Dominican Republic will face off in January for the sole qualifying spot for Athens allotted to the Americas. Puerto Rico's team is so close to stepping up to the next level and the timing conflict with the NCAA finals was a sheer stroke of bad luck for the women.

Puerto Rico Golf Open resurfaces

After a 35-year absence, Puerto Rico Golf Association president Sidney Wolf has revived the Puerto Rico Open, a professional golf tournament that in March of 2004 will serve as a stop for the Tour of the Americas, a Central and South American pro golf tour. Wolf said he expects some 140 golfers, making the event the largest pro golf championship in the history of Puerto Rico.

Wolf is the man behind the World Amateur Team Championships, which will be held this October at Rio Mar. Puerto Rico's pros and top amateurs will also get a chance to compete in the tournament, Wolf said. The P.R. Open will be played in Ponce's Costa Caribe, which Wolf said is one of the fast-growing golf markets on the island.

"Traditionally major events have been held at the golf courses situated on the north and east coasts of Puerto Rico," said Wolf. "The PR Open will help expose golf to Puerto Rico's southern portion of the island which by mid-2004 will have five golf courses including Chi Chi Rodriquez's ŒEl Legado' club due to open by the summer."

Costa Caribe opened last April and will have an additional nine holes by February 2004, giving the complex a 27-hole championship layout.

With the PRGA celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2004, Wolf said he expects next year to be the island's busiest ever in terms of golf. In January, the island will host the inaugural, "Three Kings Invitational" for Puerto Rico's top juniors and college players along with invited juniors from Mexico, Argentina, the United States and the Caribbean.

The Island Amateur is also scheduled for March along with the P.R. Open and the summer also brings the Mid, Senior and Super Senio Island Amateurs followed in June by the Island Junior championship. In July, Puerto Rico stages a U.S. Amateur Qualifier, a historic moment for both the United States Golf Association and the PRGA. In October golfers from more than 70 countries will compete in the 2004 World Amateur Team Championships at Rio Mar.

Cotto, Bruseles notch victories in Aibonito

Jose Miguel Cotto and Henry Bruseles both made easy work of their rivals, Anthony Martinez and Jerome Elder last weekend for the end-of-the-year fight card in Aibonito. Cotto, older brother of Top Rank prospect Miguel Cotto, TKOed Martinez in the sixth to improve his record to 22-0, 16 KO.

Bruseles knocked out Elder in the second round to better his ledger to 19-2, 12 KO. The victory was Bruseles' first at welterweight.

Ponce's pride and joy, Javier Lopez, signed a three-year, $22.5 million deal on Monday with the Baltimore Orioles. The former longtime Atlanta Braves catcher joins shortstop Miguel Tejada, of the Dominican Republic. The Orioles are banking on the presence of the two players to make Baltimore a force once again in the AL East.

The Orioles chose Lopez over fellow Puerto Rican Ivan Rodriguez, who it looks like will remain unsigned through Christmas. The Orioles said Lopez was their first choice.

"He was No. 1 target on our list for various reasons," Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan said. "He has substantial postseason experience. Both sides were extremely happy with the deal."

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

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

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