New York, NY - Felix "Tito" Trinidad made his return to boxing in grand fashion this past Saturday night after a 2 1/2 year "retirement." In front of the 17,406 deliriously excited fans, in boxing's most historic, dramatic, awe-inspiring venue, Puerto Rico's # 1 boxing superstar and three-time world champion transfixed himself back on top in the talent-laden middleweight division with his destructive eighth round knockout victory over the dangerous Ricardo Mayorga.
From the opening bell, the Madison Square Garden crowd - a virtual sea of San Juan-ish red, white and blue - witnessed a boxing war reminiscent of Hagler-Hearns. Toe-to-toe, Mayorga and Trinidad traded bombs. With marksman-like precision Trinidad pounded Mayorga, while the tough as nails Nicaraguan responded with a reckless abandon. Winging punches from all angles Mayorga, with his freshly dyed orange hair, fought the only way he knew how: straight foward and in your face. As the crowd rejoiced with each punch Trinidad landed, Mayorga dropped his gloves, and tauntingly, stuck out his chin. Trinidad responded with a barrage of stinging punches, while Mayorga tried to show they had little affect. Mayorga never tried this again and did get stunned near the end of round one.
After awkwardly getting caught in round three with a Mayorga combination, a slightly stunned/off balanced Trinidad touched the canvas with his glove. After taking the standing eight count, Trinidad never turned back and took control of this epic battle. Showing absolutely no signs of any ring rust, Trinidad blasted Mayorga and was catching the cigarette smoking, beer swigging former welterweight world champion with too many damaging power shots.
Bloodied, hurting and swollen by round five, Mayorga was relying on his heart and courage.
Having predicted a knockout of his own, Mayorga (now 27-5-1, 23 KO's) with all his bullying and intimidation was dropped to the canvas - on all fours - by a brutal Trinidad body shot early in round eight. This was the beginning of the end for the game fighter nicknamed "El Matador." Trinidad, with the Madison Square Garden crowd now on its feet and rocking the entire building, swarmed his devastated opponent and pummeled Mayorga, who was sent to the canvas twice more before veteran referee Steve Smoger mercifully called a halt to this transcendental, "fight of the year" bout.
Trinidad (now 42-1 with 35 KO's) savored the moment, relishing the pure joy and total euphoria of this special time - his return to boxing, to Madison Square Garden and to the adulation of his adoring fans, as he stayed in the ring. Going as far as getting an overhead sound microphone, while standing on the ropes and telling the crowd what we all knew: "Tito Trinidad is back!"
No script could have been written any better on this night and the sport of boxing was the benefactor.
What's next for Felix "Tito" Trinidad will only be bigger and better. Talk is of either a rematch against Oscar De La Hoya or Bernand Hopkins, the undisputed middleweight champion. Trinidad earned a "friendly" majority decision victory over De La Hoya in 1999, but was thoroughly beaten by Hopkins (TKO12) in 2001.
HBO will re-broadcast this Don King promoted Trinidad vs. Mayorga "Back with a Vengeance" bout, initially televised on HBO Pay-Per-View this Saturday (Oct. 9th) at 11 p.m. ET. Don't miss it!
Mike Indri is the New Jersey State representative for the Retired Boxers Foundation.