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Don't Expect Quick Reversal From Trinidad

September 07, 2002|STEVE SPRINGER

Felix Trinidad breaks into that baby-faced grin of his and says softly but insistently that he is definitely, positively, without reservation, retired.

Few believe him.

Although Trinidad seems to have found genuine peace in retirement, those who could add to their already considerable wealth by his return to the ring can't seem to accept it.

Promoter Bob Arum claims Don King is the impediment to a Trinidad comeback, that Trinidad would return if he could get a better financial deal than King, his promoter, is willing to offer.

King, while saying he honors Trinidad's decision to hang up the gloves at age 29, is begging him to fight once more "for the people," whatever that means.

Oscar De La Hoya, assuming he beats Fernando Vargas Saturday in their 154-pound championship match at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Events Center, is holding open his next fight date, in February or March, in hopes Trinidad will agree to share the ring with him.

Bernard Hopkins, who dominated Trinidad last September, handing the Puerto Rican fighter his first defeat, would love to do it again for another big paycheck.

The common theory is that retirement is simply a ploy to generate even more money for Trinidad, a strategy orchestrated by Felix Trinidad Sr., the man who has masterminded his son's career, as both manager and trainer, from the beginning.

Perhaps that is so.

But when Trinidad Jr. appeared in New York earlier this week to donate the fire truck he, his father and King promised after last September's terrorist attack, he showed no evidence he is chafing over his voluntary inactivity. Instead, he told reporters he is enjoying the opportunity to devote himself fully to his family for the first time since he started boxing at age 8.

Trinidad is taking retirement so seriously that he is no longer training seriously. He revealed he weighs 185 pounds, 25 more than he did for his last fight only four months ago.

Arum and De La Hoya have nothing to complain about. The chance for a rematch was there right after Trinidad beat De La Hoya by majority decision in 1999. But neither Arum nor De La Hoya was willing to let Trinidad and King dictate the terms of a second fight.

King shouldn't complain either. Trinidad has made him more money than any other non-heavyweight he has had.

End of story?

Unfortunately, in boxing, a career can only be considered unquestionably over when a fighter is so old he would have to be carried into the ring.

Trinidad has at least six potentially productive years left as a fighter. That's a long time for King and Arum and who knows how many other promoters to wave huge checks under his nose.

But for today at least, take him at his word.

One Man's Opinion

Trinidad, who plans on attending the De La Hoya-Vargas match, is highly qualified to pick a winner since he fought each of them, having beaten Vargas on a 12th-round technical knockout in December of 2000.

Trinidad says De La Hoya will emerge victorious, but predicts it will be one of his toughest fights.

One Woman's Opinion

At least one member of the De La Hoya camp doesn't want to see Trinidad-De La Hoya II.

De La Hoya's wife, Millie Corretjer, a well-known Puerto Rican singer, was fiercely loyal to Trinidad before she met De La Hoya.

"If they fought," she said, "I would have to go to Poland or New Zealand or somewhere. They would kill me in Puerto Rico if I rooted for Oscar. My heart would be in two places. I am very loyal to my roots, but I am, of course, loyal to my husband. I hope Tito stays retired."

Opinions That Count

The referee for De La Hoya-Vargas will be Joe Cortez; the three judges, Paul Smith, Doug Tucker and Patricia Jarman-Manning.

Tonight

Undisputed light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones (46-1, 37 knockouts) will face the World Boxing Council's No. 1 contender, Clinton Woods (32-1, 19), tonight at Portland, Ore., (HBO, 7 p.m.). Also on the card, International Boxing Federation 154-pound champion Winky Wright (43-3, 25) faces No. 1 contender Bronco McKart (45-3, 29).

Wright is hoping a victory gets him a match with the winner of De La Hoya-Vargas. Jones is hoping to keep fighting opponents most fans have never heard of.

King is trying to put together a match between Jones and World Boxing Assn. heavyweight champion John Ruiz.

Uh-huh. Ruiz will have to get in line behind Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield, two other heavyweights who never made it past the talking stage on Jones' list of fantasy opponents.

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