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Scenes We’d Like To See In 2005

By Gabrielle Paese

December 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

Boxing, basketball and baseball, those three staples of the Puerto Rican sports diet, loom large for 2005, especially with no international multisport events (read: Olympics, Pan Am or Central American-Caribbean Games) in the new year’s panorama.

Puerto Ricans will have a bounty of sports action for 2005 nourishment. The biggest events are sure to be in boxing, beginning with Felix "Tito" Trinidad’s March 19 fight versus Ronald "Winky" Wright at New York’s Madison Square Garden. WBO junior welterweight champ Miguel Cotto is also scheduled for a big money match before 2005 is up — most likely against the winner of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Arturo Gatti bout set for June.

Basketball will also be a main course in 2005 as Puerto Rico’s men attempt to qualify for the 2006 World Championships in Japan via a zone qualifier in a still-to-be determined location. The island’s top young players will test themselves against the best internationally at the FIBA U-21 World Championships Aug. 5-14 in Argentina. Washington Wizards rookie Peter John Ramos and Northeastern University start Jose Juan Barea head up that talented team, which beat Argentina at the 2004 qualifier and finished second in the hemisphere behind the United States.

Finally, baseball, as always, will serve up a heaping platter of action for island fans, although so far, my magic crystal ball can’t tell which teams are going to get full-course meals in Carlos Delgado or Carlos Beltran.

That said, here are some scenes we’d like to see in 2005.

  1. Felix "Tito" Trinidad versus Bernard Hopkins at Madison Square Garden. This is one rematch boxing fans in general are clamoring for, especially since the current circus at heavyweight doesn’t give fans much else to dream about. This is the kind of fight the Trinidads would probably also like to see. Unfortunately, boxing matches are done mostly with smoke and mirrors and in this case, Don King would be tilting those mirrors as he is Trinidad’s promoter. For Trinidad (42-1, 35 KO), the chance to fight Hopkins again would mean a shot at boxing immortality. The former champ in three weight classes could prove he is indeed the best pound-for-pound boxer of his time. Everyone who remembers watching Trinidad lose to Hopkins on that fateful night in September of 2001 is anxious to see whether the outcome would change the second time around.
  2. Carlos Beltran in pinstripes. My apologies to both centerfielder Bernie Williams and pitcher Javier Vazquez, both of whom would likely lose their jobs to make payroll room for Beltran and his super-star agent, Scott Boras, but the Yankees would look really good with Beltran in the outfield. I know Mets GM Omar Minaya is making a pitch for the Manati native this week, but according to my mailbag, Puerto Rico wants Beltran to be a Yankee.
  3. Carlos Delgado on first base for the Mets. Economics tell us that the Mets won’t be able to afford both Delgado and Beltran, but under Minaya, the Mets are building a contending team and Delgado deserves to be in the running.
  4. Miguel Cotto versus Kostya Tszyu. Let’s just skip the preliminaries and bleep right past Top Rank’s plans to bring the WBO junior middleweight champion slowly up through the 140-pound talent bank. Puerto Ricans know their boxing and know that Cotto versus Tszyu, when it finally happens, is going to be an evenly matched slugfest. With all due respect to Tszyu, I’d bet my hypothetical dollars on youth, and Cotto’s right hand.
  5. Puerto Rico’s basketball team winning a medal at the U-21 Worlds in Argentina. Given the island’s failure to finish off what it started (winning) at the 2004 Olympics, wouldn’t it be awe-inspiring to see the future senior men’s team beat the teams-in-the-making from Croatia, Yugoslavia and the United States? The Puerto Ricans upset Argentina in the U-21 regional semifinal qualifier and held their own against the United States. Ramos, Barea, Jesus Verdejo, Ricky Sanchez and company will soon step up to the senior team and this is the proving ground.
  6. Utah Jazz point guard Carlos Arroyo either settling his differences with Jerry Sloan or getting a regular gig with some other NBA team. Goodness knows we are all rooting for Arroyo to be a regular starter. And who knows what exactly is going on up there in Utah between Sloan and Arroyo, who are reportedly not seeing eye-to-eye after a heat-of-the-game disagreement during a mid-December game. The bottom line is that Sloan holds the cards and if he continues to bench Arroyo, the young star is going to see his stock fall. The sooner the two sit down and talk in 2005, the better.
  7. Puerto Rican jockey John Velazquez winning the Eclipse Award for the most outstanding jockey of 2004. The awards will be announced Jan. 24 and Velazquez definitely deserves the honor. Managed by Hall of Fame jockey Junior Cordero, the 14-year-veteran of stateside racing finished the season at the top of the sport’s money leaders and dominated the New York racing scene. He also won two races at the Breeder’s Cup, aboard Ashado in the $2 million Distaff and Speightstown in the $1 million sprint, thus helping trainer Scott Pletcher end an 0-for-12 drought Breeder’s Cup losing streak.

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

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

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