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Sunday, 9 September, 2001, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Tito targets the final mission
Felix Trinidad v David Reid
Beating David Reid for the junior middleweight title
by BBC Sport Online's Sanjeev Shetty

It must be worrying for those who like to berate the state of boxing that Felix Trinidad continues to defy the odds and sceptics.

Where once, boxing writers used to bemoan the absence of 'old school' fighters, there is Trinidad.

Where once, fans used to complain that boxers were no longer prepared to fight the best, Trinidad beats David Reid, Fernando Vargas and William Joppy in little over a year.

And while the world in general pours scorn on the characters in the boxing game, Trinidad flashes his smile and lives a quiet family life and never gets into trouble.

On top of all that, the Puerto Rican is never involved in a bad fight.

Such is the momentum that the 28-year-old has built in recent years that his opponent on 29 September, Bernard Hopkins, is considered an underdog even though he is the world's best middleweight.

A quick look at Trinidad's fistic resume is enough to prove that the best in the business have not been able to conquer him.

Aside from the wins over Reid, Vargas and Joppy, Trinidad has tamed Pernell Whitaker, Maurice Blocker, Yori Boy Campas and Oba Carr during a career into its second decade.

Yet the biggest fight of his career so far saw him produce comfortably his worst performance.

'Tito' came up against Oscar De La Hoya, another unbeaten fighter, for the chance to unify the world welterweight title.

In truth, both men cancelled each other out on that evening in September 1999, but De La Hoya seemed to have the advantage until the last four rounds.

Trinidad's surge during that period and his opponent's apparent lethargy allowed the Puerto Rican to escape with a controversial points decision.

The manner of Trinidad's defeat did nothing to diminish his confidence, as he proceeded to move up to the light-middleweight division and destroy the competition.

In facing Reid and Vargas, two highly touted youngsters who both competed at the 1996 Olympics, Trinidad showed the kind of fearlessness that has epitomised his career.

Reid lost a unanimous points decision to Trinidad after being dropped four times and has not come close to that level since.

Vargas, possibly more talented than Reid, was stopped in the 12th round of a classic brawl and has also struggled to make an impression since.

After conquering all at light-middle, he put pen to paper and signed to be a part of the middleweight unification battle, which saw him pitched against William Joppy in the semi-final.

Joppy, a seasoned professional, was reckoned to have the kind of skills to trouble Trinidad.

But few believed that Trinidad would carry his power up to the new weight in the manner he did, destroying his opponent in just five rounds.

That win set up the contest with Hopkins which has the potential to be the toughest of Trinidad's career.

If Hopkins looks for weaknesses in his foe, then the one most commonly mentioned is the solidity of his chin.

Felix Trinidad v Oscar De La Hoya
A close fight with Oscar De La Hoya
He has suffered several knockdowns - almost always in the second round - and sometimes against fighters not considered punchers.

But the lanky Trinidad has always got up and fired back with interest, suggesting that like the young Roberto Duran, he needs a wake-up call before he actually fights to his potential.

Historically, Trinidad has already done enough to make a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame a certainty, but what he does from now on will determine his ultimate standing.

Wins over Hopkins and then Jones would certainly make him the greatest fighter of his generation.

Those victories would also make convincing arguments for placing him alongside Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong and Julio Cesar Chavez as the great pound-for-pound fighters in history.

Links to more Boxing stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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