Trinidad KO's Mayorga in Round 8

After 29-month absence, he drops Mayorga 3 times in last round

end is at 2:39


October 03, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Felix Trinidad endured rival Ricardo Mayorga questioning his heart and chin throughout the promotion leading up to last night's middleweight clash at Madison Square Garden.

But it was Trinidad whose two-fisted punching power broke the will of his rival, turning the Nicaraguan's normally hard chin into one of china.

Spurred on by the loud support of the partisan crowd chanting "Tito," his nickname, Puerto Rico's most famous athlete earned a knockout of Mayorga with 21 seconds left in the eighth round.

Trinidad put Mayorga down three times in the eighth, leaving him unable to get up after the third knockdown.

The victory raised Trinidad's record to 42-1 with 35 knockouts in his return to the site of a September 2001 knockout loss to Bernard Hopkins that cost Trinidad his World Boxing Association middleweight crown.

Trinidad, 31, earned $10 million to $2.5 million for Mayorga (27-5, 23 KOs).

In an action-packed first round, Mayorga, who turns 31 today, pursued Trinidad, backing him up with an assortment of punches, most notably two left hands. An off-balance Trinidad stumbled to the ropes after a hard jab, and was nailed several times by overhand rights.

Then Mayorga, as he insisted he would, dropped his hands and took two hard lefts, but a left hook, followed by a right uppercut that had the Nicaraguan stumbling to the ropes just prior to the bell as referee Steve Smoger stepped in.

Trinidad took that momentum into the second round. And although Mayorga stood his ground, it was apparent Trinidad had the greater power. The fighters traded early left hands, but Trinidad's right hand began to find its mark, as did his left as he began to finish the exchanges.

The third round was more of the same, but Trinidad's jab began to knock his rival's head backward. Mayorga dropped Trinidad for a standing eight count with a hard right, and finished the third round strong to win it.

Trinidad created some distance from his retreating rival in the fourth, moving in behind his jab and nailing him with several left-right combinations. Mayorga fought back near the end, but Trinidad had done enough to win it.

Trinidad began to settle into a rhythm in the fifth, moving in behind a jab and firing left-right combinations. A series of left hooks bloodied Mayorga's nose, and at round's end, Trinidad trapped his man in a neutral corner, where he relentlessly pounded him with about a dozen left-right combinations easily winning the round.

Bleeding from a diagonal cut on the left side of his face just below on his cheek bone, Mayorga looked ready to go in the sixth against an unyielding Trinidad, but after getting a break from Smoger, who gave him about a 90-second rest after ruling Trinidad had hit him low, Mayorga came to life and wobbled Trinidad, who nevertheless won the round.

Trinidad prepared for the wild-swinging Mayorga after having sparred some nearly 330 rounds during the six months he trained for his comeback.

Trinidad returned to the ring after a 29-month absence and at a time when boxing is in need of a superstar.

Last month, former Olympic gold medalist Oscar De La Hoya and Roy Jones were each knocked out in the ninth round by Hopkins and Glen Johnson, respectively.

Known as a slow starter, Trinidad had been picking up the pace in his past four wins. He twice floored Fernando Vargas in the first round of a 12th-round knockout. He scored a third-round knockout of Mamadou Thiam, knocked down William Joppy in three rounds during a fifth-round KO, and stopped Frenchman Hasine Cherifi in Round 4.

Hopkins noted that the ex-champion's troubles in the ring mostly had come against boxers such as himself, Anthony Stevens, David Reid, Pernell Whitaker and De La Hoya. Hopkins called Mayorga's straight-ahead, bull-rushing style "tailor-made for Felix Trinidad."

For that reason, Trinidad exuded confidence, even as Mayorga taunted him throughout the promotion.

NOTE: Citing a lack of desire and hunger, Roy Jones last night said he will take time off from boxing to concentrate on his broadcasting career, but the man who has won world titles as a middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight stopped short of calling his decision retirement.

"Do I quit? No. Quitting is not the right word. I'm not a quitter, but I need a break because my body has been going through a lot," said Jones, 35, who served as a ringside commentator for the Trinidad-Mayorga bout.

Jones (49-3, 38 knockouts) was knocked out in each of his past two fights - by Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson.

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