Trinidad Destroys Mayorga

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After he disposed of Ricardo Mayorga with an eighth-round knockout to conclude a rousing return to the ring Saturday night, Trinidad climbed the ring ropes and did the same thing. And Madison Square Garden, the Puerto Rican star's home away from home, seemed to shake. "I came back to win," Trinidad said after he pummeled Mayorga in the eighth round, knocking him down three times before the fight was stopped with 21 seconds to go in the round. "Before this fight, there were a lot of doubts. "I told [promoter Don King] I could win and I did it."

In his first fight in more than two years, Trinidad simply overwhelmed the game Mayorga with a barrage of punches, including a left hook that finished the middleweight fight in front of a raucous crowd of 17,406. "I've been in tough wars before, but I dominated this fight," Trinidad said. "He can take a good punch and he took a lot, which was bad for him."

Trinidad, 42-1 with 35 knockouts, lost the middleweight championship three years ago to Bernard Hopkins. After one more fight, he retired, unable to get a rematch with Hopkins. Instead, Trinidad spent "the good life" in Puerto Rico, he said. But at 31, he is back and he showed against Mayorga that he is in his prime -- and probably worthy of that rematch with Hopkins. "I came out of this in excellent condition," he said. "It was a tough fight."

Mayorga never had been knocked down, but he was cut under the left eye in the fifth round, and he had to stop from a low blow to the right thigh in the sixth. Referee Steve Smoger allowed him nearly two minutes to recover with 40 seconds to go in the sixth, but Mayorga never was the same the rest of the way. Mayorga, of Nicaragua, fell to 26-5-1. He knocked down Trinidad in the third and fought particularly well in the third and fourth rounds. "I felt good about my performance, but my eye swelled up and I couldn't see some shots," said Mayorga, who was taken to a hospital for observation.

Trinidad was well ahead on all three cards: 68-64, 68-64 and 67-64. "I knew I could keep the pace up thanks to my discipline," Trinidad said. "I did. That was our game plan, to be cool and calm, and it worked perfectly." Well, not perfectly. In the third round, Trinidad appeared to slip as Mayorga hit him with a right. Smoger ruled it a knockdown, and Trinidad was up quickly.
In the sixth came the low blow at a time when Trinidad was in command. And in the seventh, Mayorga again turned his back when hit with a left hook that appeared low and on the hip. Smoger, however, told him to continue. By then, Trinidad was smoking. Although Mayorga started well in the eighth, by mid-round Trinidad was landing all his punches. Mayorga went down for the first time in his career with about 1:15 left in the round. Mayorga was on the canvas again 25 seconds later. And then came the series of blows that ended it.

El Matador was on the canvas for a third time and Smoger was waving his arms, stopping the fight. "I'm a complete fighter," Trinidad concluded. Trinidad is a local hero for supporting victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and purchasing a fire engine for the FDNY. And he's the biggest sports star in Puerto Rico.
Moments after Hopkins was booed when introduced at ringside, Trinidad appeared in a red robe and red bandanna, both with Trinidad written in bold letters. Tito stood at the edge of the ring to lead his first series of before stepping between the ropes.
Mayorga, his hair dyed orange, received a good ovation, but nothing like what greeted Trinidad.

When it was over, Trinidad again became a cheerleader and got a deafening reaction.

(Source The Associated Press)

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