Trinidad ready for brawl against Mayorga


NEW YORK -- All along, Felix "Tito'' Trinidad seemed to
know he'd wind up back in the ring. The good life he lived for 2½ years was fine, but the allure of boxing remained strong.

So Trinidad played with his kids and rode his horses and
attended cockfights, the kinds of things he couldn't do when he was
training daily for months at a time. He went to schools to speak on
the importance of an education, and visited hospitals to cheer up
the infirmed.

And one question he always seemed to hear was: "When will you
fight again?''

The answer is Saturday night when Trinidad faces Ricardo Mayorga
in a 12-rounder at Madison Square Garden in what has the makings of
a brawl.

"I never run away from a big fight or a hard fight,'' Trinidad
said Monday through an interpreter. "We don't believe in tuneup
fights. We prefer to go at the big, hard fights. I look for the
toughest opponents.''

He's found one in the unpredictable Mayorga, whose 27-4-1 record
includes 23 knockouts. That's not nearly as impressive as
Trinidad's 41-1 with 34 knockouts, but Trinidad has fought just
once since losing to middleweight Bernard Hopkins in a title fight
three years ago.

So the Puerto Rican star could be rusty, right?

Trinidad chuckles. So does his father, also named Felix and
Tito's trainer.

"I'm a guy who lives healthy and has a good life,'' Tito said.
"I'm coming back to prove some boxers take care of themselves.

"It's easy when you are retired to forget about your routine.
But I missed all that training and running and routine I had while
I was fighting. For a lot of fighters, it is a time to take it
easy. Not for me.''

Added his father: "He did not retire because of his health. At
that time (after the loss to Hopkins), we recognized he should step
away from boxing. But he has the support of his family and if he
feels ready to come back to boxing, that is what he should do.''

Trinidad has been training for six months and says he's ready
for anything Mayorga might attempt. The Nicaraguan, who was
outpointed by welterweight champion Cory Spinks last December,
could do just about anything, too.

"In my past, fighters have come in aggressive with me and if
Mayorga comes in that way, I'll take advantage of it,'' Trinidad
said. "I've been watching his fights and Mayorga comes to fight,
so yes, I have respect for him. But I don't feel afraid. He's
another boxer coming to fight me and nothing more.''

Trinidad believes he has to "make more history'' in the ring.
One of the greatest boxers of the last decade, Trinidad held world
titles in three weight classes, using a fearsome power and
impressive maneuverability. His victory over Oscar De La Hoya in
1999 brought him acclaim in the United States to go with his
unmatched popularity in Puerto Rico.

But the loss to Hopkins, who recently knocked out De La Hoya,
removed an aura of invincibility. A decisive win over Mayorga would
reinstate much of that sense of superiority about Trinidad.

"I want to be here, back in boxing and doing good things for
boxing and my people,'' Trinidad said. "I'm back because I feel I
have potential there and can do a lot more for boxing and myself. I
never for a second have doubts about my fights.''

Which means this is not a one-and-done deal?

"We take it step by step,'' he said. "This is the first fight.
then we will analyze what's next and the time frame for each fight.

"I had a vacation from boxing to spend time with my family and
friends. The fire very strongly burns inside of me to fight. If I
don't feel that fire, I would never make the step to return. You
have to have that fire inside of you.''