Six or seven years ago the prospect of a Roy Jones Jr – Felix “Tito” Trinidad showdown would have had boxing fans reaching for their wallets for a chance to see the two future Hall of Fame fighters do battle. A dream match it would have been, and most likely a great fight as well.
Turn the page to 2007 and the dream is dead, the bout set for January looks much less appealing, but Don King will make it happen anyway, expecting fight fans to pinch pennies for the opportunity to witness the fight on pay-per-view.
For his part, at least Roy Jones Jr has been active. Fresh off a performance more impressive than most had expected from the 38-year-old Pensacola, Florida native, Jones (51-4-0) will hold two major advantages against Trinidad – recent activity and the contract weight.
In July of this year Roy Jones showed he still has decent hand-speed as he put his 19 years of professional fight experience to good use against previously undefeated Anthony Hanshaw (21-1-1). While Jones may have fought the bout in spurts, he executed well defensively in close quarters and popped shots at Hanshaw when he created room to work. The win gives Jones the momentum of a mini two-fight winning streak (Jones beat Prince Badi Ajamu in his lone bout last year) which helps shake off the bad memories and dent to his ego that three successive losses (Antonio Tarver TKO2 – Glen Johnson KO9 – Tarver again UD12) had caused.
The fact that Jones Jr will have to drop down further to 170 pounds could be a cause for concern for a fighter who once fought at heavyweight. But perhaps the greater concern should be for Felix Trinidad, a boxer-puncher who has never fought higher than the middleweight limit and was most devastating at welterweight. Trinidad was picked apart by the slick, smooth-boxing Ronald “Winky” Wright in May of 2005, the last time “Tito” saw live action, and if Jones Jr retains any of his quickness he may be able to replicate Wright’s success.
A consistent jab has always caused problems for Felix Trinidad as the Puerto Rican bomber needs to get set to let loose with his solid straight right hands down the pipe and a whip-like left hook that at one time could rattle one’s molars. Oscar De La Hoya implemented a stiff jab for most of – but not all of – the bout between the two welterweights back in 1999. That was followed by Bernard Hopkins’ TKO success in 2001 and then perfected by jab-happy Wright in their painfully one-sided middleweight eliminator that prompted “Tito” to announce his retirement two days later. The problem for Jones though is that his jab has never been his weapon of choice, and he has always had a tendency to lie against the ropes during portions of rounds, covering up before countering. Still, this bout does set up as one that should see Felix Trinidad moving forward in flat-footed pursuit of the pot-shotting Jones Jr.
While the bout certainly isn’t as appetizing as it was back in, say 2001, there still are many questions that the bout will answer. In that respect the fight is, at a minimum, interesting.
Lost in time is the potential for an explosive bout that fight fans likely certainly would have witnessed if we were talking about these two boxers in their prime. But what remains is the intrigue of whether Jones can come all the way back from his devastating losses to Tarver and Johnson and what, if anything, “Tito” Trinidad has left in his boxing tank. For Roy Jones the motive seems that he simply wants to make it back on top and his supreme self-confidence has him thinking it remains a possibility even at the age of 38. Why Felix Trinidad would want back in after a two-year retirement and three years removed from his last win, and that over an over-blown and over-weight Ricardo Mayorga, remains a question mark.
The fact remains however that, despite the detractors these two fighters have historically had, these two are likely to go down in boxing folklore as among the greats. What we will find out on January 26th, 2008 is whether two once-great fighters can still come together and make a great fight.