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February 4, 2005
All the is are dotted and the ts are crossed for Felix "Tito" Trinidads next fight, May 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, versus junior middleweight champ Winky Wright.
After months of negotiating, Trinidads manager, Don King, and Wrights manager, Gary Shaw, finally agreed: $9 million for Trinidad, $5 million for Wright, untold millions for King.
Trinidad (42-1, 35 KO) returned to the squared circle after a near two-year retirement Oct. 2, 2004 with an eighth-round knockout over Ricardo Mayorga. The fight versus Wright will be Trinidads first in Las Vegas since he defeated Fernando Vargas there in December of 2000.
While the prospect of a Trinidad fight grabs headlines, Puerto Ricos fighters at the lightest of weights duked it out this weekend for much more modest purses. WBO 108-pound champ Nelson Dieppa scored an 11th round knockout over his compatriot and the former world champ at 105 pounds, Alex "Nene" Sanchez during a Best Boxing fight card held in Bayamon.
Also on the card, former WBA 112-pound champ Eric Morel decisioned last-minute replacement Juan Keb Bas, of Mexico, 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109. The fight was a snoozer, Morel dominated but his technical precision made for a boring fight. In an earlier fight, Jose Miguel Cotto, older brother of WBO junior middleweight champ Miguel Cotto, scored a first-round knockout over rival Antonio Cordova, of Panama.
Much more interesting was the undercard, featuring former 2004 Olympic team members Juan Manuel Lopez and Alex "El Pollo" De Jesus as well as Carlos Valcarcel. Lopez and De Jesus made successful pro debuts. De Jesus knocked out rival Rafael Mesorana, of Mayaguez, at 1:33 of the second round while Lopez did away with his opponent, Luis D. Colon, of Toa Baja, at 1:06 of the first round. Finally, Valcarcel scored a second-round TKO win over Jose Rivera to improve his record to 3-0-2.
Carlos Arroyo breaks nose
Detroits newest Piston, Puerto Rican point guard Carlos Arroyo, no sooner got his career back on track last week when he suffered a small setback. Arroyo took an elbow from Knicks forward Trevor Ariza during a game earlier in the week and broke his nose. Doctors set it again and Arroyo could return to the game as early as this Saturday versus the New Jersey Nets, contingent on a medical evaluation.
The Eagles have finally landed
It took them an extra day, but the Cibao Aguilas (Eagles in English) finally landed in Mazatlan, Mexico, to participate in the Caribbean Series versus teams from Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico. The Aguilas, who won the Dominican League championship last weekend with a 7-1 seventh-game final series victory over the Licey Tigres, missed their chartered flight to Mexico one day prior to the start of the Caribbean Series. According to reports, the flight was overbooked, with 172 total seats and an additional 60 passengers trying to board from Santo Domingos airport. The Aguilas were not allowed to board the plane, according to reports, and the pilot "feared for the security of the flight" after passengers began arguing over who should be allowed on the plane. Finally, the pilot and the planes crew returned without passengers to Miami. The Aguilas players were put up in hotels in Santo Domingo until the following day, Feb. 2, when they finally got a flight out of town. Puerto Ricos Mayaguez Indios were to have been the Dominican teams first opponent. The Indios did not call for a forfeit, although they were entitled to one.
"I believe championships are won on the field," Puerto Rico Winter League president Joaquin Monserrate Matienzo told reporters.
The Aguilas feature big leaguers such as shortstop Miguel Tejada, Jose Lima, Rafael Furcal, Ronnie Belliard, Damaso Marte, Doug Linton, Daniel Cabrera and Pedro Feliz.
The Puerto Rico-Dominican game will be rescheduled.
Coamo prepares to host San Blas half marathon
Road races come and go at the mercy of sponsors, but every first Sunday in February, Coamo, Puerto Rico, plays host to one of the oldest and most venerable 23.1-mile races in the world, the San Blas International Half Marathon, in its 43rd year for 2005, will once again feature the sports elite, as well as nearly a thousand joggers on its starting line this Sunday. For the Kenyans and the rest of the elite runners who try their luck in Coamo, the race is a way to break into the sport: Its no secret that this early season race is usually a springboard to greater victories.
Thats why thousands of fans will line the course Sunday for the race, which was dreamed up by Coamos service fraternity, Delta Phi Delta, 43 years ago as a way to showcase the towns patron saint festivities.
Lasse Viren, Mirus Yifter, Brian Sheriff, Delmir Dos Santos, Khalid Khannouchi, Philip Rugut and Philip Tarus are just some of the legendary runners who have run the route and gone on to be stars in their sport.
This years field is loaded with talent and includes course record holder Tarus, who is one of the favorites along with fellow Kenyans Rugut and James Kwambai. Kwambai was runner-up in Coamo in 2003.
Rugut won San Blas in 2003 in 1:04.19 and ran a 1:02.36 half marathon late last season. He holds one of the fastest half marathon times in the world (1999: 1:00.05). Last years winner, Sammy Korir, will not be back to defend his title.
Kwambai was among racings elite last season, clocking 1:00.22 in the Udine Half Marathon (northern Italy). The field also includes fellow Kenyans Titus Munji, Raymond Kipkoech, Yusuf Songoka and Rodgers Rop. Rop is a past winner of both the New York and Boston Marathons. Munji is known in racing circles as a world-class pace-setter, or rabbit, for elite runners like Paul Tergat. Paul Kirui, who is the current world record holder in the half-marathon, will likely miss Sundays race with an injury.
Runners from a total of 21 countries are expected to participate.
Vargas is tops at NCAA gymnastics meet
Puerto Rican gymnast Luis Felipe "Tingui" Vargas, of Penn State, won the mens all-around at the West Point Invitational last weekend.
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.