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Gomez Trinidad Is Fine With Setup

June 19, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

The irony was definitely not lost on Juan Gomez Trinidad.

If anything, the lightweight fighter from Puerto Rico relished his surroundings as he found himself not only smack in the middle of a gym belonging to his cousin's forever-linked rival, but also co-headlining a card promoted by the same man.

"Oscar De La Hoya is very successful and well-respected so to be here is an honor," Gomez Trinidad said with a wink. "But you know that whenever Puerto Ricans and Mexicans get together in the ring, it's going to be a war."

The fight-thirsty fans at the Grand Olympic Auditorium wouldn't have it any other way.

Gomez Trinidad (23-2, 16 knockouts) will meet Javier Jauregui (45-10, 32 KOs) of Guadalajara, Mexico, in the main event of tonight's six-bout card -- an HBO Latino show promoted by De La Hoya's Boxeo de Oro -- in an International Boxing Federation lightweight elimination bout.

The winner figures to get a title shot next against Stevie Johnston if current IBF 135-pound champ Paul Spadafora vacates the title and moves to 140 pounds, as expected.

But for now, No. 5-ranked Gomez Trinidad is content to throw hands for 12 rounds with No. 4-ranked Jauregui in a match between two free swingers.

It's an added bonus that his cousin, the retired (for now) Felix "Tito" Trinidad, who beat De La Hoya by majority decision in September 1999, will be in attendance.

"We're closer than cousins; we call each other brothers," said Gomez Trinidad, whose mother Luz is a sister of Tito's father, Don Felix. "From the time I was 9 years old we've been together. We lived in the same house on the island."

Maybe that's why Gomez Trinidad, 28, said he feels no pressure fighting in the Golden Boy's backyard.

"I'm going to take this fight as if I was fighting in my living room," he said. "There's no pressure."

And apparently, no shame either.

Gomez Trinidad eagerly pulled out boxing gloves for De La Hoya to autograph and posed for pictures with him during Wednesday's weigh-in.

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