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New York Daily News

Trinidad Returning To KO Past


June 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

The adoration of his fans and their constant questions helped push Felix (Tito) Trinidad back into boxing. But it was the persistence of promoter Don King and his fat wallet that sealed the comeback, which will end a two-year retirement.

"He (King) has been working hard to me back," Trinidad said. "He made a big offer. He pursued me. He showed me that he appreciates me and he respects me."

Trinidad capped off a weekend of soaking up the affection of his fans - he participated in the Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday - by sitting through a King love-in that passed as a press conference yesterday at the Theater at Madison Square Garden to announce his comeback fight against Ricardo Mayorga on Oct. 2 on HBO pay-per- view.

Trinidad had the stage to himself. Because of legal problems, Mayorga couldn't get out of Nicaragua. He did, however, verbally flog Trinidad over the telephone during a live broadcast from a radio station in Managua.

"Make sure you buy your father a pair of sneakers so he can run to the ring and pick up the pieces after I'm finished," Mayorga said. "We're fighting at Madison Square Garden and I'm going to do you the same way that Bernard Hopkins did there."

Ouch! That one had to sting.

Trinidad (41-1, 34 KOs) is returning to the scene of his only loss - a crushing 12th-round TKO at the hands of Hopkins on Sept. 29, 2001. Hopkins won the undisputed middleweight title and Trinidad, 31, fought once more, beating Hacine Cherifi, before hanging up his gloves.

Although Trinidad has never used it as an excuse, he was deeply affected by 9/11. He was in Manhattan that day. Hopkins left town the next day, going through the Lincoln Tunnel and heading back to Philadelphia. But Trinidad couldn't get a plane back to Puerto Rico. King brought him back to town and Trinidad visited various fire stations and served meals to police and firemen around the city.

"I think it affected him, but he's not going to use it to make excuses, and neither am I," King said. "But he's an emotional guy. It was traumatic enough to affect anyone who isn't the most iron- clad tough guy."

Trinidad certainly wasn't himself when he stepped into the ring 18 days after those tragic events. It was the first major sporting event in the city after the attacks. Hopkins dismantled him.

The free-swinging Mayorga (27-4-1, 23 KOs) promised to land the type of shots that will bring back all those bad memories. Trinidad said it's just talk, but he admitted Mayorga talks so much that it tends to get under your skin.

"I like that he continues to talk," Trinidad said. "It just makes me want to hit him harder."

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