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Trinidad Decides to Throw in the Towel

Boxing: Retirement of the 29-year-old former champion is greeted with skepticism.

July 03, 2002|PAUL GUTIERREZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Frustrated by an inability to land a rematch with the only fighter to beat him and annoyed with a delay in another multimillion-dollar rematch against a boxer he already defeated, Felix "Tito" Trinidad is calling it quits.

Trinidad's lawyer, Nicolas Medina, said in a statement Tuesday from San Juan, Puerto Rico, that the former welterweight and middleweight champion was retiring.

"After carefully evaluating all present factors and listening to the recommendation of his father, manager and trainer, he has decided to retire definitely as a professional boxer," Medina said.

"The only fights remaining would not add anything to his career, but would cause great risk to his health."

Trinidad, 29, had been attempting to get a rematch with Bernard Hopkins, who punished Trinidad until knocking him out in the 12th round for the undisputed 160-pound championship on Sept. 29, 2001. Hopkins, though, has rejected Trinidad's overtures.

Further frustrating Trinidad was the collapse of a deal, in principal, for a rematch with Oscar De La Hoya, who Trinidad defeated by majority decision on Sept. 18, 1999.

The tentative agreement, between Bob Arum, De La Hoya's promoter, and Don King, Trinidad's promoter, was contingent upon De La Hoya beating Fernando Vargas. But that bout, originally scheduled for May 4, was postponed until Sept. 14 because De La Hoya suffered a hand injury.

The developments left Trinidad without a quality opponent, so he agreed to fight French journeyman Hacine Cherifi on May 11. Trinidad won on a fourth-round knockout.

Arum spokesman Bill Caplan said they believed Trinidad's retirement was a ruse.

"It's a ploy either to get King to work harder to get the fight with Hopkins," Caplan said, "or to get Hopkins to say, 'Wait a minute, don't retire. I'll kick your [behind] again.'

"Is he retired? Maybe for a day or two."

Trinidad's people, however, are playing it straight.

"Tito has finished his career healthy, with a brilliant record and, thanks to God, with an economic future that guarantees peace for him and his family for the rest of his life," said his father, Felix Trinidad Sr., who also served as the fighter's trainer and manager.

The elder Trinidad added that he and his son made the decision after speaking with King, who told them there was little chance of a rematch with Hopkins.

Trinidad was 41-1 with 34 knockouts and fought in 21 title bouts after beginning his career in 1990 at the age of 17.

He won his first title on July 19, 1993, with a second-round knockout of Maurice Blocker to claim the International Boxing Federation welterweight crown. He defended the title 15 times.

After taking De La Hoya's World Boxing Council welterweight title, Trinidad moved to the super welterweight division.

He won the World Boxing Assn.'s belt with a unanimous decision over David Reid on March 3, 2000, and defended the belt twice that year, first against Mamadou Thiam on July 22 with a third-round knockout, then knocking out Vargas in the 12th round of their slugfest on Dec. 2.

Trinidad moved to 160 pounds and, after knocking out William Joppy in the fifth round to win the WBA middleweight championship on May 12, 2001, suffered his first loss to Hopkins.

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Associated Press contributed to this report.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Felix Trinidad at a Glance

Nickname: 'Tito'

Age: 29

Born: Puerto Rico

Career record: 41-1

Knockouts: 34

First championship: On July 19, 1993, won IBF welterweight crown, knocking out Maurice Blocker in the second round.

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