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The Real Fight at 160
By Martin Wade (June 25, 2004) 
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Close the storm windows and hide the women and children (OK, maybe just the children) the real fight at middleweight is coming to the Big Apple on October 2nd. As a fight fan, I have no problems with the pomp and circumstance of De La Hoya/Hopkins and even less as an observer, but Felix 'Tito' Trinidad and Ricardo Mayorga will supply the fire and brimstone of the second glamour division.

Let’s imagine that De La Hoya/Hopkins does blossom into a modern day Leonard/Hagler; now compare that to what may well be a modern day Graziano/Zale and there’s no denying where the real action is. 'Goldy', by way of his June 5th showing against Felix Sturm, has provided a certain measure of intrigue. Will Oscar get a beating? Is Floyd Sr. in or out? My response to such queries are “yep” and “yep”, so where’s the mystery in that? The point is if you have to book a flight, drop a load of cash, entrust your faith in a single fight fulfilling expectations which one would it be? I’m already growing weary of the diplomatic “about to get paid” Bernard Hopkins, it’s liked a low calorie Philly cheese steak! Maybe I’m getting old, a little too set in my ways because I like my Hopkins paranoid and angry not well moneyed and scripted. That’s where Ricardo Mayorga comes in with his seething machismo and naughty Spanish words. Still need convincing?

Fans, don’t let the trash talking fool you; this fight without question will go down as 'instant vintage'. From the choosing of Madison Square Garden as the site to the Hall of Fame promoter in Don King, this match-up promises to be a classic. Now, my Spanish is weak (OK, non existent) but if I could have a few words translated it would be 'train wreck'. Like Zale and Graziano before them, both fighters should have a consumers guarantee stitched into their trunks simply stating that when you add 'Tito' to 'El Matador', somebody’s gonna get hurt. The bloody trilogy between Graziano and Zale was one of violent round by round swings in momentum, with each bout culminating in brutal finality. The rivalry captivated the fight world from 1946 to 1948, defining a division when the original 'Sugar Man' was still but a spindly welterweight. If Don Dunhpy were alive today he’d choose the October 2nd assignment and leave the September 'event' to Howard Cosell.

Trinidad/Mayorga is a far better fall fight in the uncertainty department as well; only the promise of mayhem separates it from De La Hoya/Hopkins. Trinidad has been out of commission for close to 3 years and even when active showed a tendency to get caught early in fights. Trinidad’s last big fight left him with a sour taste in his mouth, which probably contributed to his insistence on jumping back into the big fight fire minus a tune-up. Mayorga, though strong, is fighting at 160 for the first time… or is he? His well-documented struggle making 147 and even 154 immediately removes the 'blown-up' label from the Nicaraguan. If Ricardo possessed crunching power at 147 while weight drained, how hard will he wallop at a solid 160? We also know that no matter how many times we reference the footage of the Nicaraguan madman inviting Forrest to hit him flush, he’s never felt anything close to Trinidad’s power. Now fight fans, on the three, scratch your head, bite your bottom lip and go hmmmmmmmmmm?

Like Graziano and Zale these two Latin warriors have no 'plan B', this fight will be fought in close quarters, no need for HBO to waste time going to the corners between rounds for 'strategy'. Historically, the names Trinidad/Mayorga will go together like milk and honey, in stark contrast to the oil and water of De La Hoya/Hopkins. Picture Trinidad as the Puerto Rican Zale, the straight up conventional boxer-puncher, stalking with measured economy. Trinidad has never been a wasteful puncher, when he hits you he wants each punch to count. Remember fans, this was a man who made the Executioner (a career middleweight) 'box'. Even 'Hard Nard' knew not to linger in Tito’s kill zone; when you make a bigger man move, you can flat out punch. Now envision Mayorga as Graziano, the crouching brute winging clubbing right hands from side pockets and parts unknown. Mayorga, like Rocky (before boxing saved him) is a felony waiting to happen. Let’s just say Ricardo never bought into Rocky’s “Somebody up there likes me” theory.

Never the less, the two men will lock horns and it will be the best middleweight fight of the year, maybe since Hagler/Hearns. Don King has already announced that the fight will be for the WBA intercontinental title (whatever that is) inserting the winner as a mandatory for the victor in the 'other' fight. It’s too bad, for unlike Zale and Graziano both men will continue on in search of riches (or revenge) and may never cross one another’s path again. All we can do is watch, take it all in and hold it dear, like many historians preserve the honest brutality of this fights predecessor. If we’re lucky, all surrounding pieces on the chessboard will make moves that render the two sluggers once again with nowhere to turn but to one another.

The Boxing Junkie Makes his Call

Trinidad’s punches are too short and crisp for Mayorga; he will fight at a deliberate pace out of concern for his own wind and Ricardo’s early power. In round five Ricardo will consider this pace a white flag and get tagged coming in by a crisp hook, he will survive the knockdown but never be the same. In round eight Trinidad will eventually (after absorbing some blistering single shots) trap Mayorga on the ropes and bombard him with unawsered blows forcing a stoppage. Mayorga, still standing, will have to be restrained because he still wants to fight, and his language in describing Trinidad will be just as disturbing as it was in pre-fight press conferences. Don King, euphoric with visions of Trinidad/Hopkins part two, will drown Ricardo out with shouts of Viva Puerto Rico!

Yeah, I could say all that, but I won't. For this one, I’ll just assume that dense expression (the one I wore in Spanish class) and offer this gem of analytical wisdom. Uhhhm, somebody’s gonna get hurt.

Until the Next Jones
The Boxing Junkie.
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