Saturday, January 19, 2008

:boxing: The Bout That Happened Too Late:: Jones vs. Trinidad

Roy Jones, Jr. is one of the most gifted fighters in history, a multi-weight-class champion (from middleweight to heavyweight) with great God-given talent. Felix Trinidad is one of the most storied and feared middleweight champions in history, possessing both power and a brutal fighting style. Now, the two icons will meet, at light heavyweight, in what one could describe as a "dream match" on Saturday in the vaunted Madison Square Garden in New York City.

That could also describe this as a "dream match" that is happening far past both fighter's expiration dates. Unless they popped into a time machine that took them back to their respective primes (nearly a decade ago for Jones, seven years prior for Trinidad), don't expect them to fight in the fashion that made them great. All most will likely see are shells of their former selves posturing and duking it out as much as they can. Both have had their mystique stripped in the last few years as they have encountered better and stronger competition, and more recently, aging. I have never have been too high on either, I certainly do not count myself among their fans, and I do not think that this match has the sort of significance that it could have had before the losts of major bouts and inactivity. In spite of this, I find it difficult to pinpoint a victor in the Garden.

Neither fighter poses much of a threat to any of the current top boxers anymore, but to each other, they are on equal level of danger. Trinidad has had problematic outings with crafty, shifty fighters--the epitome of Roy Jones, Jr. When an opponent is standing right in front, he'll attack them with his brutal shots (and signature left hook), but when they are on the move or jabbing away, he relents and does not fire as often, instead, waiting for an opening or moment to seize and continue his own attack. Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright cracked the code and made it look easy, lending credibility to Jones, with his abilities and style, being the third to prove it. This , though, is not a one-way street, as Jones himself has shown a vulnerability common with many speedy fighters--a reluctance to trade off punches when another fighter is either nearly or as capable as they are in terms of skill or speed, or when they are constantly under a great deal of pressure. Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson, respectively, showed that flaw in defeating him by knockout (twice) and by decision (Tarver in their third fight), and since Trinidad is a pressure fighter, that may not bode well for him.

Jones is not the austere Jones from years before, who was quite the freak-of-nature when he fought actual good opponents. But in more recent times, he had let himself grow dull by fighting those of lesser skill, leading to his downfall when facing potent, hungry foes in Tarver and Johnson. Felix Trinidad is not the dangerous, feared fighter from bouts past, someone that other fighters dreaded to enter the ring against and one who many openly considered to be the best ever at middleweight. Those days and sentiments, too, are gone, as better, more skilled fighters have brought themselves above his name and into prominence by thoroughly beating him and the myth that surrounded him. Though both boxers are still thought to be among the best of all time, their fight time, as of now, has passed them by. The match itself may or may not be a good scrap, but the match-up will provide at least some intrigue as to who's night it will belong to. Two fighters with a diminished presence: a skill-prone, pressuring Trinidad versus a pressure-prone, skilled Jones. The one who will win the bout (which should have taken place nearly ten years ago) will be the one that "shows up" and makes the best of the abilities they have left.

Prediction: Jones, UD or late round KO (RD 8) (Skills still reign over physical attributes, and Jones has that over Trinidad. Additionally, the latter has had more trouble with his problem area than the former, and that will most likely play a big role in the bout. However, Jones has gotten laid out cold twice before, once by the lesser-powered Johnson. If Trinidad fights smart (and not forward-only), and apply a sufficient amount of pressure and volume punching, he can open the way for his left hook to hit Jones and potentially take him out. Of course, one should not count out one's pride in a match's outcome (right Mayweather and taunting, KO'd Hatton?) or the placement of the bout at light heavyweight, a first for Trinidad and at a class which Jones had been the undisputed champion of and had fought at for the majority of his career...


Outcome: Jones, UD. From the fight reports, it sounds as if it were a bit even in the beginning, with Jones pulling away in the latter rounds with two knockdowns along the way. Of course, this will only serve to bloat his ego more and make him declare to fight the top contenders and those that beat him, until he settles down and "battles" his way through another round of tomato cans (lest not we mention the on-off rematch with Hopkins, who he defeated years ago). As for Trinidad, it'll probably be the last we see of him...until his own rematch with De la Hoya or a "dream match" with fellow Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto... (personally, I'd rather see Mosley, but who knows...)

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