The Jones/Trinidad fight has taken it on the chin from a good number of presspersons, many of whom have busted on the promotion for featuring two past-their-prime warriors. Day late, dollar short, they've been saying. Or more appropriately $50 dollars shot, because that's what it's going to cost us fans to tune in one Saturday to satisfy our curiosity and determine how much Roy Jones has left and whether Tito Trinidad should make his next retirement his last retirement.
Don King, the promoter of this event, which runs on Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden, showed a good bit of ire in the final press conference before the aged battlers get it on.
No fair busting on the fight, King said. You've shown excessive contempt prior to merely cursory investigation, the Don said to unnamed New York outlets; wait to you see what goes down Saturday, if the hyperbole is just that, or indeed Jones has been sipping a (legal) youthfulness potion, and Trinidad is 100% amped to take down a legend. I've tried to maintain an open mind coming in tot he fight, and as always, hope that the fans get their money's worth.
At the pc, Jones showed up clad in a parka, with a heavy sweatshirt on underneath that, and he was topped off by Air Jordan winter hat. Now, maybe the Garden is looking to pinch pennies, as the Knicks are tanking and revenues are down, but it didn't feel to me like the heat in the room wasn't working. Maybe sweating off an ounce, was Jones?
The staredown between the Floridian and the Puerto Rican, age 39 and 36 respectively, was a top level contest of wills. Neither man wanted to break the gaze, and no winner could be determined as they simultaneously turned away from each other to pose for photogs.
There were plenty of those in attendance, and writers, and posse-members (Tito's 20-plus man camp showed up, Jones' squad is smaller, in the single digits) in the room, which surprised me somewhat. Maybe it shouldn't, as King has pulled out all the stops to garner interest in the show, which MSG paid an $8 million fee to land.
There was even a story in the NY Post, on page 3, on Thursday, telling readers that Ford models, not the usual strippers and the like will be holding up the round cards in between rounds on Saturday.
King, age 76, was in fine form; as is typical, his attention never wavered, even if ours did in the two hour affair. He slapped at the “naysayers” and “doomsayers” who've pointed out that neither headliner is in the prime of his athletic life, and likened the fighters to Ali and Foreman. “Don't forget,” King said, making us feel like lowdown ageists for even thinking that Jones and Trinidad aren't what they once were, ” Foreman won a title at age 45.”
King pointed out that Jones' abs are “enviable,” and said with his beard, he looked like Daniel Boone. I'm almost 40, so I got the reference, but I wonder if most of the post paper fightwriters, the Net Crew, got it…
King tried to play to all ages, announcing that he had a castmember from High School Musical doing the Anthem. No not the most famous one, or the one who had the nude photo flying around…this guy's name is Corbin Bleu. (Not Cordon Bleu, foodies.)
He planned to have Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) do the song, he said, but that didn't come off. Probably when he figured out it would take about a quarter mill to get her to sing for 2 1/2 minutes. No word on what Cordon Bleu, I mean Corbin Bleu is charging…
This bout, King said, would be appealing to the “masses, not the classes,” which I believe was another whack at the keyboardists, who had to feel a little warmth inside when they were classified as an upper class. We're not used to that, you know…
Some proceeds from the fight will be given to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which is described as the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists, to help educate and raise awareness regarding the deadly disease.
Trinidad and Jones agreed to donate $50,000 each to Komen for the Cure, and I don't care if that's a ploy to get publicity for the promotion or what, that's cool..
King deviated some from his Only in America script, when he said, “They've been promising black people for 400 years and giving them nothing.” Maybe the age issue has him pondering his own legacy that much more, but he also said that he's just “…an ex con…and this is the only country in which people are trying to break into.” This came right before he introduced a man who he said swam from Cuba to MIami. Maybe one of you can clue me in who that guy is, and what he has to do with the event, as I'm unclear, and as I write this, my daughter is sick, and it's 1:41 AM, and I have to get up and talk about why people love boxing on Air America Radio (The Lionel Show) at 11 AM, and I can't do the neccessary research. TSS ROTY Radam, can you look into that for us?
King likes it when fighters go out on a limb, and predict coming KOs, so he urged undercard heavyweights Mike Mollo and Andrew Golota to predict stoppages.
He also went back to the age issue when he introduced the former Foul Pole, now 39, who King said looks much, much younger.
“What did you do,” King said to Golota trainer Sam Colonna, “get him a face lift?”
After King asked the writers to “forget everything in this fight but pride and glory” Tito told all that he was very confident he would win, and that his passion for fighting is high.
His dad/trainer echoed that, saying his passion is burning as hot as ever, and he looked at Jones and told him that yes, he's a “great champion” but that he has “no chance” against his son. “You are going against the best Tito anyone has fought against,” Papa T said.
King then re-slammed the New York press, saying that coverage had appeared on “Yahoo, eBay, Google…I don't care what they write in the New York papers.” (He told me after that the negative press pissed him off, and he wished some of the naysayers would present their disgust to the fighters themselves, face to face.)
Jones then took the mike, and promised the old, razzle, dazzle Roy will be on display on Saturday.
All in all, it was a solidly planned and executed block of hype; the two principals, it was quite clear, are old pros at selling a fight, without having to resort to faux fury or staged shoving.
I do hope that the old pros will be as skilled come fight night, and that a goodly portion of the verbal buildup proves to be substantive. I'd like to see Jones press the issue, go for a KO in the first third of the fight.
I also hope that my intuition is off, and that Tito will not look plodding as he fails to cut off the ring and corner Jones. I also hope that time off, those retirements, that diappearing passion for the game, and coming up 25 pounds since his heyday affects him less than it could be expected to.
C'mon, old pros, prove us nattering nabobs of negativity wrong, and put on a hell of a show at MSG on Saturday night, will ya?