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March 5, 2004
Felix "Tito" Trinidad ran the Moscoso Bridge 10K last Sunday in just a little over 45 minutes (for those of you who still think hes fat and out of shape, try running six miles in a 7.5-minute-per-mile pace). At the finish line, Trinidad dodged questions about his planned comeback fight against Shane Mosley. Two days later in New Yorks Madison Square Garden with promoter Don King next to him, Trinidad met the press with these words: "Im so happy to be back here again. I want to tell you that Felix Trinidad is coming back to boxing.
"A lot of people in Puerto Rico and the United States told me, we need you in boxing. But it was Don King who brought me back and gave me what I asked for. Im so happy to be back here. I want to tell the media and the fans, Dont worry. Ive returned to boxing."
Trinidad (41-1, 34 KO) is scheduled to fight Mosley provided that Mosley beats Winky Wright in their March 13 scheduled bout in Las Vegas. The Trinidad-Mosley matchup could be as early as September.
His "official" announcement, which stole the thunder from the Fres Oquendo vs. John Ruiz promotional press conference Tuesday, had boxing fans on the island miffed because it was made in New York and not here. Trinidad first hinted he might come out of retirement while visiting Atlantic City, N.J. for a King fight card late last year.
Cotto TKO s Sosa
In other boxing news, junior welterweight Miguel Cotto (19-0, 16 KO) only needed four rounds to liquidate Victoriano Sosa (38-4-2, 27 KO) in what was a very lopsided fight. As expected, Cotto simply overpowered the lighter Sosa, who went down at 2:51 of the fourth. Referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight at that point.
"It was a very emotional victory and I never really thought the fight would finish up that fast," Cotto told reporters after the fight. "I dominated from the first to the fourth round. Sosa is a strong boxer and I felt his punches in the second round, when I almost lost my balance and had to step back. But I recovered quickly and I was able to continue dominating the fight. Sosa wanted to win and he was very well prepared but I wanted it more."
Cotto was more convincing for this fight than he was against Colombias Carlos Maussa (who he should have knocked out). He was also much bigger. Sosa was fighting for the first time at 140, having moved up from 135, which he says is close to his natural weight. Cotto, meanwhile, packs close to 155 on his frame most days and weighed about 15 pounds more than Sosa on fight night.
Manager Peter Rivera is already hard at work lining up Cottos next rival, which could be either Italian Gianluco Branco or Jesse James Leija. May 8 or June 5 are being discussed as potential fight dates, Rivera said.
Kiplagat upsets Radcliffe on the bridge
Heres something you dont see very often in sports, but wouldnt it be cool if you did. This was the scene Sunday on the Moscoso Bridge for the "Worlds Best 10K."
More than 10,000 runners clapped, cheered, hooted and hollered encouragement to eventual winner Lornah Kiplagat, of the Netherlands, and second-place finisher Paula Radcliffe, of Great Britain, as the two headed south on the bridge while the rest of the field moved north.
Many, especially those walking the 6.2-mile course, stopped to lean over the concrete barriers, snap photos or cheer.
"I didnt notice they had stopped to watch us but I could hear them cheering," said Radcliffe, who set a world record here last year in 30:21 and finished second this year in 30:45. "Its always great and I love coming here because I get that kind of support."
Kiplagat, who also won this race in 2001, said she felt like a movie star.
"The fans are the most important part here," said Kiplagat, who stopped to chat with dozens of joggers after the race. "With the people here you feel so motivated. The people here cheer for you really hard. Id never been in a race like this before to have so many people calling my name."
With the possible exception of womens pro tennis and the Olympics, its not often you see thousands of people cheering women on during competition. The men didnt draw half as much attention from the massive field, a 10K participation record in San Juan at 10,244 people. Race director Rafa Acosta helped promote the womens race by starting the elite women five minutes prior to the elite men and the regular start.
High winds probably kept Kiplagat and Radcliffe from dueling for another world record, but nothing could stop Kiplagat from smoking Radcliffe in 30:41.
The 30-year-old Kenyan native, who runs for the Netherlands, stayed alongside defending champion Radcliffe for most of the race before pulling away in the final kilometer to take the victory.
"Had it not been for the wind today, I think I might have broken the mark," said Kiplagat, who sat out last years race with a hamstring injury. "I felt very strong. Ive always come to this race when Im not well prepared. This time I trained well. Too bad there was this wind or I would have broken the mark."
The elite women ran in a group of about 15 over the bridge heading to the airport and thinned out on the return trip as Kiplagat and Radcliffe took over the lead, along with eventual third-place finisher Constantina Tomescu-Dit, of Romania, (32 minutes flat) and Kenyas Magdeline Chemjor. On the return trip over the bridge, Kiplagat and Radcliffe broke away and ran the rest of the race together in front.
Meanwhile, the mens race also boiled down to two runners after the eight kilometer mark. Kenyans John Korir and 21-year-old Wilson Kiprotich finished nearly side by side with Korir getting the edge in 27:47 and Kiprotich second in 27:48.
Four elite men, Korir, Kiprotich, Paul Kosgei (28:05, third) and Linus Maiyo (28:07, fourth) emerged from the pack at the five-kilometer mark, staying together until eight kilometers.
"They went out very hard and they were working together," said last years winner Hendrick Ramalaa, of South Africa, who was fifth in 28:13. "They just broke us. I wish I had been able to keep up because in the end they started dropping and I almost caught them."
Kenyas Patrick Nthiwa was sixth, also in 28:13. Brazilian Marilson Do Santos Gomez was seventh in 28:21, followed by Kenyan Titus Munji in 28:23. Kenyan Roberto Cheriuyot, the 2003 Boston Marathon winner, was ninth in 28:28, followed by Kenyan Paul Biwott in 28:29.
Kenyan Margaret Okayo was fourth for the women in 32:39, followed by Galina Alexandrova, of Russia, in 32:45 and countrymate Lyudmila Biktasheva in 32:50. Kate ONeill, 23, of the United States, was seventh in 32:51, followed by Kenyas Jane Kiptoo in 32:58 and Ukranias Natalia Berkut in 33 minutes. Sylvia Mosqueda, of the United States, was 10th in 33:10.
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 email@example.com.
Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.