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October 8, 2004
Felix "Tito" Trinidad didnt disappoint his fans Saturday night in his return to the squared circle. His eighth-round knockout of Ricardo Mayorga was a lesson in how to box. The pride of Cupey Alto waited patiently in the early rounds, enduring the taunts and antics of his Nicaraguan rival until finally burying him in an avalanche of punches in the eighth round, which saw Mayorga fall three times before the fight was stopped.
"I was strong in the ring, and I felt very comfortable, I expected a tough fight and Mayorga did not prove me wrong. He has an incredible chin and great power," the former three-time world champion said after the fight. "The moment I started working the body I knew I was going to take off and dominate the fight. Mayorga is a hard fighter and he takes a good punch. This fight, he took a lot of them."
Of course, Mayorga also helped give the fans what they came for. In addition to playing the role of clown to Trinidads straight man, the former welterweight champion absorbed every blow Trinidad handed out in the early rounds and didnt make it easy going for Trinidad in the ring.
Still, Trinidad proved beyond a doubt that he hasnt lost a step, not even at middleweight. Maybe the two-year layoff actually did him good. He dodged Mayorgas blows with quick reflexes and didnt hesitate to finish him off. Its been a long time since boxing fans got to see a fight of this caliber. Credit goes to Don King for setting up such a showcase fight for Trinidads comeback.
Trinidad (42-1, 35 KO) is now a reported $10 million richer. Mayorga (27-5-1, 23 KO) got $2.2 million, which is bound to be some consolation, since he lost on the eve of his 31st birthday and is now staring down jail time for allegedly raping a 20-year-old woman in his native Managua.
Thousands crowded San Juans expressways to catch a glimpse of Trinidad as he toured the metro area in a caravan following his triumphant return home last Sunday. The salute to his fans lasted about six hours and his father, Felix Trinidad Sr., said it rivaled the reception his son got when he beat Oscar De La Hoya back in 1999. If its true that Trinidad returned to boxing to feel the love from his fans, he got it Sunday night.
Of course, the fight everyone now wants to see is the rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Trinidad. Dont hold your breath. Hopkins has a lawsuit pending against King, to whom he is still under contract. At the post-fight press conference, King called Hopkins "ungrateful." It was Hopkins unwillingness to agree to financial terms with King and the Trinidads that sent Trinidad into retirement two years ago.
This time, however, Hopkins, who is still basking in the limelight following his knockout of Oscar De La Hoya, has said hes willing to fight Trinidad, but then theres the matter of the particulars of his contract.
Hopkins did give props to Trinidad. He told Bernard Fernandez, of the Philadelphia Daily News this: "That fight brought boxing out of ICU. I was a fan last night. I was jumping up like a jack-in-the-box, just like everybody else."
Trinidad Sr., meanwhile, isnt ruling out any options -- not even a rematch versus Mayorga.
Edgar Martinez bids adieu
Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez waved a final goodbye to his fans this past week. The 41-year-old Dorado native, who makes a case in favor of the designated hitter (for those purists who still dont believe) played his last game with the ballclub he called his own for the past 18 seasons.
"He's the greatest DH since the rule was put in," Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters when asked whether Martinez was of Hall of Fame caliber. "That's the easy part of it and I'll let the writers decide whether he is a Hall of Famer."
Gigi Fernandez inducted to Puerto Rico Tennis Hall of Fame
Gigi Fernandez was inducted into the Puerto Rico Tennis Association (PRTA) Hall of Fame this week, along with coach Pedro "Golo" Laracuente, leader and former player, Gilberto Marxuach and former Governor Pedro Rossello.
Fernandez, who is recovering from knee surgery to repair an ACL injury she sustained while playing in the U.S. Open, gave tennis clinics to beginners as well as the islands top juniors for two days prior to the induction ceremony.
The head womens tennis coach at the University of South Florida said she saw plenty of promising talent here.
"One thing Puerto Rico has to realize is that were a tiny island and weve had at least five world class tennis players," said Fernandez, who won 17 Grand Slam doubles titles on the women's pro tennis tour and was ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles eight times between 1990 and 1996.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist in womens doubles for the United States, said she felt somewhat vindicated by the induction, which comes one year after being snubbed by the Sila Calderon administration in its 50 years of Commonwealth award to distinguished athletes.
"Its just political. Roberto Clemente left Puerto Rico and his career accomplishments were in the United States. Antonia Novello [former U.S. Surgeon General] went to the United States for her career, but shes still Puerto Rican. In order to win the gold medals I had to play for the United States. People who understand tennis understand that," Fernandez said.
Gabrielle Paese is a sports reporter in San Juan. She was 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.