Sunday, September 19, 1999 Published at 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
Trinidad polishes off Golden Boy
Felix Trinidad (right) lands a punch on the way to Las Vegas glory
Click here for pictures of the big fight.
Felix Trinidad summoned up all his reserves to end the unbeaten record of Oscar "Golden Boy" De La Hoya and unify the WBC and IBF welterweight titles.
De La Hoya, the WBC welterweight champion, seemed to be cruising to victory.
But Trinidad, known to his adoring fans as Tito, out-boxed the tiring Mexican-American over the final three rounds and extend his unbeaten record to 36 fights. It was De La Hoya's first defeat in 32 contests.
But he added: "Oscar deserves a rematch."
Despite Trinidad's fight back, most ringside pundits still thought De La Hoya had shaded it and the majority decision was a surprise.
US judge Glen Hamada scored the fight a 114-114 draw. But his compatriot, Jerry Roth, saw it 115-113 for Trinidad and Belgium's Bob Logiste had it 115-114 for the Puerto Rican.
Trinidad won all of the last three rounds on two of the scorecards.
But the close decision - and the cash to be made from a re-match - immediately had tongues wagging about a sequel.
Trinidad's promoter, Don King, is keen on the idea but will want a larger slice of the purse for his fighter next time around.
Trinidad came into the fight with 30 knockouts to De La Hoya's 25 and the sell-out crowd of 11,610 was expecting fireworks from the opening bell.
But De La Hoya kept his distance, avoided a brawl and picked off his opponent with a succession of jabs.
Trinidad was frustrated, cut and it appeared at one point that his eye was about to close. But he stuck to it and as De La Hoya tired he came more into the fight.
De La Hoya, also 26, said: "Hopefully, we can do it again. I wanted to demonstrate my boxing skills, but I guess it didn't work.
"To my fans, I am very sorry. I love you guys, I will be back."
As for the judges' verdict, he said: "Obviously, in my heart I thought I won the fight. Next time, I will be a brawler."
Numerous boxing greats, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, George Foreman and Mike Tyson, were at ringside for the eagerly-awaited bout.
On the undercard Britain's Johnny Nelson defended his WBO cruiserweight title for the third time with an easy points win over Sione Asipeli.
He knocked down his Tongan opponent in the 10th round but was unable to finish him off.