Saturday night from Madison Square Garden we have our first Pay Per View of the year featuring two of last decade’s greatest fighters. So why am I very disappointed over this fight? Well because the two fighters are named Roy Jones Jr. and Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad.
Why would I be unhappy about this especially when you consider the fact that their combined record is 93 wins only 6 losses with73 knockouts, and too many titles to keep track of ranging from the Welterweight to even Heavyweight divisions (remember Jones beat John Ruiz for the WBA Heavyweight Championship in 2003)?
Roy Jones turned pro in 1989 and won his first 34 fights spanning 8 years before he dropped a controversial DQ loss to Montell Griffin in 1997, a fight he avenged that same year with a devastating first round stoppage of Griffin. Jones would not lose again for 7 years until he suffered that devastating 2nd round knockout to Antonio Tarver in their 2nd fight in 2004. Jones was knocked out again in his next fight later that same year by Glen Johnson in round 9.
Trinidad turned pro in 1990 one year after Jones made his debut. Tito would win his first 40 fights before being knocked out in round the 12th and final round by then undisputed middleweight king Bernard Hopkins just a few weeks after 9/11 in a still totally devastated New York City at The Garden.
During these tremendous victory runs, the two fighters would beat some future Hall of Fame fighters and even all times greats. Jones’ resume would include wins over Hopkins, Mike McCallum, Virgil Hill, and James Toney. Trinidad scored wins over the likes Oscar Dela Hoya, Fernando Vargas, Pernell Whitaker, and Hector Camacho. They were clearly among the best of the best of the 90’s, and for Jones, into the early 2000’s.
But as great as they were, and as quickly as they rose to stardom, they have fallen as fighters and as athletes. Jones is now an old 38 years old. He suffered back to back devastating knockouts to guys who really are not one punch guys. Jones was always a much better athlete than pure fighter, as I always said. Once he slowed just a step and lost just a smidge of his great reflexes, we found out about his chin. I’m not saying he has a glass jaw, but it is somewhere in the china cabinet.
As for Tito, he is a very old 35 years old. He never had great movement and now he shuffles around like some of the old men I used to see on Miami Beach back in the day. He has always had a weak chin, but he always found ways to get up until the Hopkins fight, and that was not about a single punch but a solid 12 round beating. Trinidad’s last fight was nearly two years ago when he was basically shut out over 12 rounds by Winky Wright. He could not even hit Winky, let alone hurt him. I noticed that Tito punches were slowly and he was very methodical. One reason he had such great power in his heyday, especially with his left hook, was speed. In baseball, we would call it bat speed. Opponents would not see a Tito left hook until it was too late. No more. One can only expect he will be even slower now two years later at the heaviest weight of his career, 170 pounds.
Bottom line, I hate that these two great fighters who provided us all so many thrills are meeting now. Most say they should have met ten years ago. They are wrong. These two should have never met. Trinidad started his career at 138 pounds. Jones started his career at 157 pounds, nearly 19 pounds north of Tito. In Trinidad’s last fight against Wright, he weighed 160 pounds and he looked slow and soft. Jones weighed 175 for his last fight, a 12 round unanimous decision over Anthony Hanshaw in July of last year. Jones also fought once in 2006 beating Prince Badi Ajamu in another 12 round unanimous verdict. Before that Jones was beaten by a unanimous decision in his rubber match with Tarver in October of 2005. So at least Jones has been busy, bigger and busier and less shot of the two.
I hate to have to make a pick on a fight based on which fighter is the less shot of the two, especially since they have both been so great for the sport. Well this is, and I imagine it will always be, a part of the sport. Boxers fighting past their primes, usually it’s not against each other. Maybe that is what will be safe for these two, the fact that they are fighting each other. You wonder why fighters do this and have always done this. It’s why I call them the most common and uncommon of all athletes, it’s in their blood, their DNA. They can’t help it. Jones will stop Trinidad in round 7.