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"Tito" Trinidad To Retire From Boxing; Santos-Takaloo Fight Postponed; 5 Puerto Ricans On MLB All-Star Teams

By Gabrielle Paese

JULY 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

You gotta love a boxer who isn't afraid to stand up to Don King.

Of course, with Don King you can never be sure if you're really standing up to him or he's just pulling more strings to get you to come around to his way of thinking, but hey, that's boxing.

In what smells like a ploy to pressure Don King, Félix "Tito" Trinidad's camp on Tuesday announced the 29-year-old fighter's retirement from the sport.

"Tito" Trinidad, by the way, has not spoken. His father/trainer Félix Trinidad Sr. has also performed a disappearing act. The news was relayed via a one-page "press release" sent to Puerto Rico's media from the offices of the Trinidads' lawyer, Nicolás Medina,

What calls the retirement into question is the fact that it comes on the heels of an unproductive conference call between promoter Don King and the Trinidad camp earlier this week. Medina confirmed that the Trinidads finalized their retirement decision shortly after the conference call.

"In ŒTito's career he has to do things that add value to his worth as a boxer and that's why we were looking for multiple fights with Bernard Hopkins, [Oscar] De la Hoya or Fernando Vargas," said Medina of the fighter who has held titles in three weight classes. "Because De la Hoya buried a chance for a rematch for the fifth time and because Hopkins has announced that he's going to sign with Showtime and fight this Frenchman [WBC No. 1 challenger Erland] Betare, this panorama leaves us only with fights that mean nothing."

Those who know Trinidad Sr. know that he is a man of principles and stubborn when he doesn't get his way.

At contention here is a big-money rematch either versus middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (preferably) or Oscar de la Hoya or Fernando Vargas (both acceptable).

"His father's recommendation has been retirement because he feels there's no reason to justify his son's permanence in pro boxing only to continue fighting ordinary fights that in no way add to his extraordinary history as an athlete and put his health at risk," reads the press release. "After losing to Bernard Hopkins and contemplating retirement, he decided to continue on in the industry in order to fight big fights over the short term, such as rematches with Oscar de La Hoya, Fernando Vargas and Bernard Hopkins."

Is this a game to force promoter Don King to negotiate another big match for the 29-year-old fighter from Cupey Alto?

Betare is also considered no match for Hopkins, a fight that would last two rounds at best. Medina said Trinidad will not let Hopkins lead the dance.

"Our policy has never been to sit around and wait to see what the other fighter does," said Medina.

Nor are the Trinidads particularly interested in moving up to fight Bryan Mitchell at 168 pounds, as was previously discussed.

"Tito has to look for fights that will add to his career," repeated Medina.

Trinidad (41-1, 34 KOs) fought 21 title fights over three weight classes during his 12-year career. He fought his first pro fight at age 17 in 1990 after a brief amateur career of 57 fights, finishing 51-6.

After moving up to middleweight in 2001 and winning his first fight for the WBA belt versus William Joppy, he suffered his first career loss to Bernard Hopkins, getting knocked out in the 12th round.

With the victory, Hopkins won the middleweight unification fight, but has not been silent in stating his frustration over stalled negotiations for his next fight. He is reportedly interested in a three-fight deal with Showtime and has not been able to get Roy Jones Jr. to the table.

Sources close to Hopkins say that King did not meet the Philadelphians' demands for a bigger paycheck than that of Trinidad for a Trinidad-Hopkins rematch.

Trinidad won his first title, the IBF welterweight belt, on July 19, 1993 when he Koed Maurice Blocker in the second round. He made 15 successful defenses of that title before moving up to super welterweight on March 3, 2000 to beat David Reid by unanimous decision.

He unified that super welterweight title by beating IBF junior middleweight champion Fernando Vargas, who was 20-0 before Trinidad ended his streak. Trinidad won 2000 Fight and Fighter of the Year honors for that effort and landed atop many pound-for-pound best lists as well.

Trinidad Sr. will also retire, Medina said.

"He's going to go through a transition whereby he will leave the boxers in his stable in the capable hands of his assistants and then he plans to retire," said Medina.

Felix Trinidad Sr. was the Puerto Rican featherweight champion in 1979; the Boxing Writers Association of America Trainer of the Year in 1995 and 2000; and the BWAA Manager of the Year in 2000 (This marked the first time in it's history that the BWAA had given the Trainer of the Year and Manager of the Year to the same person in one year.)

Santos-Takaloo fight postponed

The WBO junior middleweight fight between Daniel Santos and Irani Mehrdud "Takaloo" Takaloobighashi set for July 20 in Bayamon's Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum was canceled Tuesday, WBO president Francisco "Paquito" Valcarcel said, after neither the WBO nor promoter Frank Warren could get Takaloo a visa.

"Takaloo has an Irani passport," said Valcarcel on Tuesday. "Since September 11 it's been tough going for arabs at U.S. Immigration."

Promoter Frank Warren, who has both Takaloo (19-2, 15 KO) and Santos (25-2-1, 20 KO) under contract, broke the news to Valcarcel last week. Valcarcel said he tried to get help with Takaloo's visa from U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Denny Hastert, and Republican party lawyer John Duggan in Aurora, Ill., to no avail.

"They did everything they could and even though Takaloo has lived in Britain since he was five, there is nothing they can do to get approval from Immigration," said Valcarcel.

Valcarcel said Warren plans to add Santos-Takaloo to the lineup of the Aug. 17 card featuring Joe Calzeghe in Cardiff, Wales.

Valcarcel said there was no chance No. 1 challenger Wayne Alexander would be ready in time for the Aug. 17 bout.

Alexander was originally scheduled to fight Santos on the ill-fated July 20 card, but backed out several days after the fight was announced with a hand injury. Santos still as a mandatory defense versus Alexander pending and De La Torre would like to get it over with by the first week of December.

The July 20 seemed doomed from the first day of its promotion.

During last month's launch by Peter Rivera's Best Boxing Promotions, Valcarcel told the media the fight was "only 99 percent sure."

Valcarcel then admitted that the deal was still missing the signatures of Showtime's Jay Larkin and promoter Warren on the contract, but insisted it was a mere formality.

Two days later, the fight suffered a venue change, moving from the open-air Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon next door to Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum.

Santos won the WBO junior middleweight title in March after a convincing TKO victory in the 11th round over Mexico's Yory Boy Campas.

The July 20 was to have been the second chance for Santos to fight on his home turf. Last year, he stepped into the ring at Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum to defended his WBO welterweight belt against Mexican Antonio Margarito. That fight, however, ended in a no-contest after a first-round head butt.

5 Puerto Ricans named All-Stars

Five Puerto Ricans were named to Major League baseball's All-Star teams for the July 9 Classic in Milwaukee, Wis.

The big news is that Montreal Expos' José Vidro overtook fellow Puerto Rican and future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar in the National League voting at second base.

Chalk it up to a last-minute online voting campaign by Sabana Grande (Vidro's hometown mayor Miguel "Papin" Ortiz, or credit it to Vidro's spectacular season and Alomar's struggle at the plate. Either way, Vidro said he's tickled pink to get a chance at his first career All-Star at-bat.

Alomar had participated in 12 All-Star games before moving from the AL to the NL this season and running into troubles batting from both sides of the plate, but especially the right side (he's hitting .186 right-handed and .294 left-handed).

Thus far this season, Vidro is batting .334 with eight homers, 55 RBI (eighth in the league) and 54 runs in 78 games, on pace to hit 100 RBI and runs scored this season. Vidro beat out Alomar by 41,453 votes. Vidro got 1,106,097 votes to Alomar's 1,064,644.

New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada held off a late challenge from nine-time starter Iván "Pudge" Rodríguez, of the Texas Rangers, to get the starting job behind the plate in the AL.

The other Puerto Ricans -- Mike Lowell, José "Pito" Hernández and Benito Santiago -- are all reserves in the NL.

Besides Alomar and Rodríguez, Juan "Igor" González, Carlos Delgado, J.C. Romero, Javier Vázquez and Joel Piñeiro also failed to make the team.

Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the most recent recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at

Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.

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