Roy Jones Jr. earned a unanimous decision Saturday night over former multi-division champion Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad. In a fight that many believed was put together too late in each fighter’s careers to be exciting or relevant, it turned out to be both.
Trinidad, following his two and a half year-long layoff after his decision loss to Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright, came out surprisingly sharp. Jones Jr. was on the defensive in the early rounds with Trinidad landing hard left hooks to the body. In round three, Jones Jr. began showboating against the ropes trying to bait Trinidad into throwing wide punches for him to counter. Trinidad, being no rookie to the fight game, refused to fall into the trap set by Jones.
In round four, Jones Jr. was not throwing many punches, even though prior to the fight he claimed he was going to knockout Trinidad in round four. As the round progressed, Jones Jr. let his hands go and threw some punches that landed hard and cleanly on his opponent, but Jones’ prediction of a fourth- round knockout did not come true.
The middle rounds allowed Jones Jr. to showcase his flashy arsenal of effective punching techniques. Roy was able to seemingly turn back the clock a few years with each straight right-hand lead and leaping left hook he threw. Beginning to exert his natural size, speed and power advantage over Trinidad, Jones Jr. knocked down his opponent in the seventh round with an overhand right that had a delayed reaction. Jones Jr. tried to finish off Trinidad but failed to knock out his wounded opponent in the seventh round.
Much of the same relatively exciting back-and-forth action ensued with Jones Jr. having the upper hand when he knocked an off-balance Trinidad down in the tenth round with a stiff jab and a glancing straight right hand. Trinidad was not seriously hurt by the combination and finished the scheduled twelve-round affair on his feet. The scorecards read 117-109, 116-110, and 116-110 all in favor of Jones Jr., the winner by unanimous decision.
Few expected the fight to be exciting, but it exceeded its low expectations and proved to be worthy of being held in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Madison Square Garden, the home of the NBA’s New York Knicks, is no stranger to boxing events, in fact, it played host to the first bout of the Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier trilogy.
Following the fight, it seemed to play out like a retirement match where the loser was asked the normal questions that led to the notion of continuing to fight as not being the best of ideas. However, despite losing the match, Trinidad proved he still has some great boxing action in his future if he chooses to fight again.
Trinidad never gave up in the fight and kept on going for the knockout, which is one of the reasons he is one of the most popular figures in the sport and a hero in his native Puerto Rico. Trinidad is known for being the first to defeat boxing’s golden boy, Oscar De La Hoya, in their match up of undefeated welterweight champions in 1999. He also knocked out Fernando Vargas in their super welterweight slugfest.
Jones Jr. entered the ring wearing a king’s crown and left with a victory and an open challenge to all potential ring opponents. Jones Jr., who was once the universally recognized pound for pound best fighter in the world, an unofficial title now held by Floyd Mayweather Jr., fought well considering his advanced age for a boxer at 39 years old. He showed at points in the fight why he was once considered one of the best fighters living.
As fighters age in boxing, their ability to control or dominate an entire round or fight becomes increasingly difficult. Older fighters often fight in spots or short spurts rather than sustaining a constant level of excellence.
This fact can be seen in the latter years of the careers of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, especially in Leonard’s disputed decision victory over middleweight champion Marvin Hagler in the 1980s. Currently, Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins are evidence of this harsh reality in pugilism, and in life.
Following his victory on Saturday night, Jones Jr. is yet again a contender in the realm of boxing. He set himself up for a possible showdown against longtime foe Bernard Hopkins, or super middleweight kingpin Joe Calzaghe.
With the growing popularity of mixed martial arts and its leading brand, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, there seems to be a need for some individuals to have to put down one form of combat over another.
This is not necessary as each sport is unique and requires its own skill set to be successful. Comparisons between the two types of combat sports are growing tiresome; boxing does not need to die for mixed martial arts to live and visa versa. The beauty of sports is it allows individuals the ability to live their dreams.
In the arena of combat sports the left hook of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. or the speed of a Roy Jones Jr. in boxing doesn’t detract from the excellence of a Muay-Thai clinch by Anderson Silva or a high-kick by Chuck Liddell.
Granted, boxing is one of the elements in mixed martial arts, but the two sports as a whole are entirely different from each other, just as football is different from basketball. There is no need to choose one over the other when you can appreciate both.