Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Trinidad's Back! (But, Um..)

I'm about as devoted a Felix "Tito" Trinidad fan as you will find outside of his home in Puerto Rico, and this despite my having arrived at the fight game well after he attained his career high marks. He was a ruinous puncher, with about as beautiful a left hook as anyone has ever had. He honed enough boxing skill to make those left hooks really, really dangerous. He fought the best boxers of his time. He was just generally great, and generally great to watch.

Trinidad had unfinished business with Roy Jones, Jr., which is why I suppose it makes sense for him to end his retirement for a January 2008 showdown with Jones. Several years ago, Jones was to be Trinidad's next opponent, just as soon as he finished mopping the floor with Bernard Hopkins in late 2001. Instead, Hopkins mopped the floor with Trinidad, and with this Felix's suspected fatal flaw -- the one that led him to the brink of defeat at the hands of Oscar De La Hoya only to be saved by some quirky ringside judges and De La Hoya's own bad decision to do nothing in the final few rounds on the thinking that he had easily won the early stanzas -- was flagrantly exposed. That is, Trinidad can't handle slick boxers, guys who have savvy and tip-top technique. Trinidad retired, un-retired for an entertaining brawl with Ricardo Mayorga, then retired again following a shutout at the hands of Winky Wright. Winky being a slick boxer. That brings us to now.

Jones is damaged goods after savage back-to-back knockouts courtesy Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson, and while his career has continued on, no longer is Jones the breathtaking once-in-a-generation athlete who could play basketball the same day of a fight; who could knock a man out a split second after strutting around with his hands behind his back; who looked so much better than everyone else he fought that winning became a bore. But Jones still, even in his diminished state, is a slick boxer.

I'm all for fighters saying "To hell with it" in the face of a dire challenge and charging straight in to see what they're made of. It's one of the traits that made Trinidad great. Certainly, if Trinidad could connect with a few of those patented left hooks, Jones could crumple into a heap. But at this stage in his career, it might have been better had Trinidad chosen a fighter for his comeback who would stand and trade blows without a lot of fancy business.


JimPanzee said...

This fight seems infinitely intriguing. I always hope to see two fighters that complement each other in the ring, in terms of style or temperament. And I want the fighters to be about equal in talent (although two really horrible fighters, even of the same caliber, are not often fun to watch).

Both of these guys are previous top-notch fighters with vastly different styles. Jones doesn't like to get hit, Trinidad can land a solid blow. Trinidad doesn't like fancy and smart boxing, Jones is a canvas-side ballerina. I hesitate to place my bets on who _will_ win but I'd like to see Felix take him. Mostly because I kind of like Jones in the booth.

Tim -- tstarks2@gmail.com said...

I do wonder if I'm overreacting. I just watched the last couple rounds of Jones' last fight, against Anthony Hanshaw, and he doesn't look like the kind of fighter who would pose much of a challenge for Tito, especially if, as Roy claims, he was going to come forward and fight toe-to-toe. I suspect he's being disingenuous, and it's the stick and move, run and potshot version of Jones that poses a threat to win a very un-entertaining bout.

Your other points are sound. However, I doubt we'll see Jones in the booth anytime soon. He's wore out his welcome at HBO, and he's gotten enough of a reputation for being a professional headache that I'm not sure who else would invite him in.

Anonymous said...

I'm going with Trinidad for the win. Jones doesn't seem to have the slickness of his youth. A slickness based on speed. Hopkins and Wright aren't blindingly fast, but they're slickness is because of a tight defense and excellent technique, something Jones doesn't have.

P.S. Good blog. Your posts are quality stuff.

Indiebass said...

As per my usual, I will be backing the fellow Puerto Rican. And thank goodness that little island can produce a number of good boxers well above its fair share. Always remember: Tito was the heart and soul of the Jackson 5. What that means for boxing, I'm not sure. But I'll take Trinidad in an ugly, boring split decision.

[note: in the body of your blog, you should tag the links to open in a new window. I can show you how to do this, if you don't already know. I think it would add some awesomeness, as well as make it easier to snap back to the blog, once you're done with the external links]

Tim -- tstarks2@gmail.com said...

Thanks, anonymous. You're right about Jones' particular kind of slickness as compared to Hopkins and Wright. I'm thinking of the hit-and-run version of Jones that surfaced in the rubber match with Antonio Tarver... but then, that version wasn't a winning kind, either.

I'm open to the advice, indiebass, and the Jackson 5 connection is crucial, to this, I think. ;)

JimPanzee said...

The more I think about it the more I both want Tito to win and the more I think he will.

Also your posts are quality stuff...even if you, yourself, are the "anonymous" poster who said so.

(I kid, Mr Anonymous. I know you are not the author of the site).

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