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Neighbors Won't Be Fighting Anytime Soon…With Honor In San Juan, Cepeda Moves Past His Past… Archaeologists Date Puerto Rico's First City Wall

Neighbors Won't Be Fighting Anytime Soon


May 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.


Boxers Oscar De La Hoya (left) and Felix Trinidad pose for photographers in San Juan in this 1999 file photo. Trinidad won the decision in their only fight.


VERO BEACH -- Oscar De La Hoya and Felix "Tito" Trinidad are neighbors in Puerto Rico.

"About a driver away, maybe 300 yards," De La Hoya said.

So despite the contentious nature of business interests that they share, De La Hoya did the neighborly thing last November and invited his adversary over for a friendly chit-chat.

"Why don't we make a three-fight deal?" De La Hoya proposed to Trinidad. "We'll fight on the same card. We'll fight different opponents. Build it up. OK, that's one fight, Then we'll fight the rematch (of their 1999 fight). I'll beat you. And the third fight, the box-off to see who is the best."

Roughly translated, Trinidad said, "no, amigo."

The financial specifics remain fuzzy, but Trinidad figured that a 50-50 split would be equitable, while De La Hoya assumed -- rightfully so -- that he should demand a bigger share because he would have to carry the promotion across a bilingual fan base.

De La Hoya is arguably the biggest draw in boxing these days. He has Mike Tyson appeal without the criminal record, restraining orders and facial tattoos. Trinidad is one of the nicest guys you'll meet, but his personality falls flat, and his inability to speak English beyond a few choppy words has hurt him significantly over the last decade.

Blessed with boxing skills that make him one of the greatest fighters of our generation, Trinidad -- with a little work in the classroom -- could have become, dare we think it…

Another Oscar De La Hoya.

"Good guy, nice guy,' De La Hoya said.

But they will not be boxing buddies again. Trinidad won their only entanglement -- a controversial decision over De La Hoya in September of 1999 -- in which De La Hoya built a solid lead on all scorecards but allowed it to vaporize by dancing like Baryshnikov the last four rounds.

Trinidad, a five-time world champion, retired after losing to Bernard Hopkins, then putted about with not much to do. De La Hoya made an awful pop CD, then left the vocal stylings to his wife by marrying Latin pop singer Millie Corretjer of Puerto Rico.

But each became tired of the life of leisure.

And so they fight again.

De La Hoya, training in Vero Beach, will challenge Felix Strum of Germany for the World Boxing Organization middleweight title June 5, though a larger target awaits in September:

De La Hoya faces undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins and a chance to claim an unprecedented sixth championship in a different weight class.

Trinidad finally came out of retirement in April, with intentions of fighting "Sugar" Shane Mosley. But those plans blew up when Mosley lost to Winky Wright.

It left Trinidad with limited options, leading him to Ricardo Mayorga on October 2nd. Trinidad's purse will be $10 million, plus 60 percent of the pay-per-view sales.

It could have played out so differently had Trinidad been more accommodating. And that's the real shame of it, given the dire straits of the boxing business, with the heavyweight division in shambles and hardly a buzz about the next generation of fighters.

"The money was unheard of," De La Hoya said. "And now he's fighting Mayorga for a fraction of what I offered him. It's sad."

But it's also boxing, where the sparring outside the ring often makes for more entertaining drama.

Let's hope the boys can still be friends and neighbors once they stop counting all their money.

With Honor In San Juan, Cepeda Moves Past His Past

By David Kiefer

May 23, 2004
Copyright © 2004 San Jose Mercury News. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright 2004, San Jose Mercury News. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Orlando Cepeda, the Hall of Fame former Giants player, was so touched when a statue bearing his likeness was unveiled Saturday at the Puerto Rico Museum of Sport that he said, ``I compared today with Cooperstown.''

Giants Manager Felipe Alou introduced Cepeda at a ceremony attended by the widow of Roberto Clemente, as well as other greats in Puerto Rican sports history. Cepeda, 66, later saw his number unveiled on the outfield wall at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, where the Giants played the Montreal Expos, and as Cepeda walked off the field, a Special Olympian gave a medal she had won to him as a gift.

The cumulative experience was almost overwhelming for Cepeda, who was shamed in his homeland after he was convicted of drug trafficking in 1975 and thought he would never be honored in such a way.

``After what happened to me here, I never thought about it,'' he said. ``I got chills.''

The best part of the day?

``Everything,'' he said.

In Cepeda's day, baseball was No. 1 in Puerto Rico. He acknowledged that the sport has faded in recent years.

``It's sad,'' Cepeda said. ``Baseball is a poor people's game in the Latin countries. It's on the decline because Puerto Rico is like the U.S. now. There's so much going on. In the Dominican, there is more poverty than Puerto Rico now, more needs.''

Puerto Rico still produces players, but not at the rate of the Dominican Republic, which boasts several baseball academies, compared with one in Puerto Rico. Some say that Puerto Rico is hurt because its players are subject to the amateur draft, where they must compete for attention with players from the United States who often are better prepared. Those from the Dominican Republic and other Latin countries can be signed freely.

The Giants, for one, have 10 scouts based in Latin America but none in Puerto Rico. Though 20 Puerto Ricans have played for the Giants, this year there are none, a first since 1997.

Archaeologists Date Puerto Rico's First City Wall


Associated Press Writer

May 25, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A city wall hidden under a cement floor for more than two centuries has been identified as part of Old San Juan's first fortification -- built more than 350 years ago, researchers said Tuesday.

The 22-yard (20-meter) stretch of gravel and mortar was discovered while work crews renovated plumbing in La Fortaleza, the 17th-century stronghold that once housed some of Spain's new world riches and is now the governor's mansion, archaeologist Juan Rivera said.

Rivera and colleague Jorge Rodriguez Lopez, who spent more than a year researching the rampart, said it once ran the length of the islet's southern coast.

They think the wall was built between 1633 and 1640, citing records they reviewed.

The upper part was destroyed and the remainder built over when city fortifications were expanded in the late 1700s, creating the high city walls pictured on San Juan postcards.

The newer bulwarks were more intricately constructed than the older wall, with three cannon-resistant layers of stone and earth.

It was not clear when, or if, the wall will be open to the public.

In an unrelated case in February, a chunk of a historic wall collapsed. The section -- measuring 70 feet (21 meters) long and 20 feet (6 meters) high -- was built about two centuries ago at the entrance to the San Juan's seaside shantytown of La Perla.

The U.S. National Park Service, responsible for maintaining the walls, was investigating and working to restore the section.

Spain built the fortress walls surrounding Old San Juan to defend the capital against attacks from enemies. The defense system includes El Morro and San Cristobal forts, two of the city's main tourist attractions.

Puerto Rico was under Spanish rule from 1493 until 1898, when the U.S. seized it after the Spanish-American War.

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