Trinidad makes up for lost time with KO

Off 29 months, he returns in a big way, punishing Mayorga for eight rounds


October 04, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - A man known for his heavy drinking, Ricardo Mayorga is probably used to awakening to headaches. But the aches he felt yesterday morning were not from a long night at a bar, but rather the result of getting pounded during Saturday night's eighth-round knockout loss to Felix Trinidad in a middleweight bout at Madison Square Garden.

Mayorga, who turned 31 yesterday, left the ring with a large gash down the left side of his face beneath a swollen eye. He had throbbing ribs from absorbing air-sapping left hooks, one of which drove him to his knees for the first of three times in the final round - the last time, for good with 21 seconds left.

"After the first time Mayorga went down, I thought, `This fight isn't going much longer,'" said Trinidad, who out-landed Mayorga, 218-128, in power punches. "He could take a good punch. He took a lot of them, but that was bad for him. I've been in tough wars before. I dominated this fight."

Trinidad's 35th career knockout ended a 29-month layoff, raising his record to 42-1. At the time of the stoppage, Trinidad led 68-64 on the cards of judges Guy Jutras and Fred Ucci and 67-64 on that of Steve Weisfeld.

Having answered the chants of his nickname, "Tito, Tito," that rocked the arena, Trinidad gave the crowd of 17,406 an evening it won't soon forget.

"I've been out of the ring for [29 months] waiting to fight the kind of fight that I did tonight," said Trinidad, 31, who fought for the first time since scoring one knockout win after losing to Bernard Hopkins, then retiring after failing to secure a rematch. "I told Don [King, promoter] I would beat Mayorga, but I give Mayorga respect. He's got a big heart."

Trinidad's supporters chanted, "We want Hopkins," but that rematch seems unlikely. Hopkins is suing King, whom he claims owes him $5 million. King charges Hopkins reneged on a contract to give Trinidad a rematch.

Trinidad may look to a rematch with Oscar De La Hoya, whom he defeated by a controversial decision in September 1999. Other options include going after undisputed welterweight champ Cory Spinks, who attended Saturday night's fight, or next month's winner between undisputed junior middleweight king Winky Wright and Shane Mosley.

"We will sit down and discuss our future with Don King," Trinidad said.

Some considered it foolish for Trinidad to take on the tough-chinned Mayorga rather than a less difficult tuneup fight after the layoff. But by predicting a knockout in three or five rounds, Mayorga discovered talk is not always cheap. Indeed, it can be extremely costly.

"We couldn't step back in Tito's career by taking a tuneup fight," said trainer Felix Trinidad Sr., whose son earned $10 million to Mayorga's $2.5 million. "With good training, good sparring, someone as dedicated and talented as Tito is ... well, you see the results."

Mayorga brought the first-round action to Trinidad, even dropping his hands and absorbing two vicious left hooks -- punches that usually leave Trinidad's rivals twitching on the canvas. A left-right combination sent Mayorga staggering back to his corner.

Mayorga engaged Trinidad yet again in the second, third and fourth rounds, even as he bled from the nose and Trinidad's firepower took over. The fifth round began Mayorga's demise. Trinidad opened the cut, later pinning him in a neutral corner with brutal uppercuts and crosses.

Were it not for a low blow that led to a two-minute break for Mayorga, Trinidad might have finished him off in the sixth. Mayorga rallied in the middle of the seventh round. But a head-swiveling uppercut had him on wobbly legs, yet again, by its end.

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