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A phrase I read more frequently when fighting pundits discuss the career of Oscar de la Hoya is that'he has never defeated a great champion in his prime.' it is a arguable statement to direct at a six division champ who is also the most financially successful non-heavyweight of modern times, having been concerned many of the best fights of the last twenty years. I always find such statements at least a little dubious, not the least as it is commonly the job of a journalist to stir the pot by making a debatable statement. Instead, I can examine the career of one of de la Hoya's previous rivals : Felix'Tito' Trinidad. Nobody denigrates'Tito' by saying he never faced and defeated a great fighter in his prime, so let us take some instruction from his career.
The early days
Felix Trinidad caught his first welterweight international title in 1993, by knocking out Maurice Blocker in two rounds. However , Blocker himself could barely be called a'great champion;' he fought only twice more after Trinidad against non-descript opposition and then retired.
Trinidad was signed with Don King, who has a habit of only listening to wrestlers like Trinidad when he isn't dominating his bread and butter, the heavyweight division. Campas wouldn't win an international title until he moved up to 154lbs, at that point a puny division. Trinidad even toyed with moving up to 154 himself in those days, fighting an eliminator for the WBC belt held by Terry Norris in 1997.
In February 1999, Trinidad fought Pernell Whittaker, winning a lopsided decision victory against the slick defensive master. He fought only once again, losing by knockout to an unknown in 2001.
The gigantic Sep 1999 showdown with Oscar de la Hoya remains controversial to this day, with many commentators who are definitely not de la Hoya partisans saying that'the Golden Boy' was robbedAs for de la Hoya'running,' it was'Tito' who came out of the fight with a busted up face and blood-stained trunks. Other writers simply say the fight was close and hard to score, which is fine, but then it hardly implies a defining statement in Trinidad's career. At best, he got away with a particularly close, disputed win over a great fighter in his prime.
victorious as a Junior Middleweight
Trinidad rode high after the de la Hoya fight. He moved up to 154lbs, and took away the WBA title from previous Olympian David Reid. He then met Fernando Vargas, knocking out'El Feroz' in the twelve th and final round in an explosive bout. However , was either Reid or Vargas truly good champions? Reid definitely wasn't. Before Trinidad, his 2 opponents of note were fringe contenders Laurent Bouduani and Keith Mullings. After Trinidad, he never got his career back on track and stood down in obscurity.
Don King then set up the unification series for the middleweight title, including Felix Trinidad. That prepared the ground for the clash with long-reigning IBF middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. Out boxed and roughed up,'Tito' lost by twelve th round knockout.
Wright moved up to 160lbs, and fought Trinidad in May 2005 for the legal right to challenge for the WBC middleweight title.
Felix Trinidad has enjoyed a celebrated career, and merits his name and legion of Puerto Rican fans. Nobody argues that when the day comes,'Tito' will deserve his place in the hall of fame.
So what does this mean for Oscar de la Hoya, and all of the critics who say Oscar'never beat a great fighter in his prime?' Simply this : the more you achieve, the more the critics try to tear you down.
For more information on the greates living boxer Felix Trinidad check out felixtrinidad.com
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