That's right. I'm saying it. Tito Trinidad will knock out Roy Jones Jr.
Let's start off with the general notion that Jones and Trinidad are two shot fighters facing off for a dime. While it's true that they are both past their prime, if any one of these two fighters has look `shot' at any point, it's been Jones. Since his dramatic drop in weight after beating John Ruiz for the heavyweight title, he's done nothing but lose three fights (two by knockout) and beat two no-name opponents, looking nothing like the Pound for Pound King of old.
Sure, while most of this was going on, Trinidad was eating arroz con pollo and tostones down in Puerto Rico, occasionally attending fight cards and listening to the cries of his fans, who kept begging him to come back. Seeing his island embrace Miguel Cotto as his successor, especially after Cotto's emergence as a superstar over the past year, might have just been the icing on the comeback cake. Who knows? What I do know is this: Three year layoff or not, Trinidad has never looked like a shot fighter. He has never looked as old as Roy Jones did against Anthony Hanshaw. Anyone who saw that fight knows that it was a lot closer than the judges' scores might have lead the general public to believe.
And then there's this: Trinidad has already come off a two-and-a half-year layoff once before. In doing so, he destroyed Ricardo Mayorga. He might have lost his subsequent fight to Winky Wright, but it was not because of ring rust, and it definitely was not because he was shot. He was outworked by a defensive master, plain and simple, and Wright deserves credit for his win. But if you must point fingers for Tito's lackluster performance, blame his father, Felix Trinidad Sr, who is undoubtedly one of the most mediocre trainers in the sport. The way Tito fared in that fight, you'd think that neither he nor his father had ever seen Winky fight. It was as if they'd trained to face Mayorga yet again.
The only two fighters to ever beat Trinidad are best known for their defensive mastery. In Hopkins and Wright, you arguably have the two best defenders in the game, even to this day. Whenever anyone came to bang with Trinidad, they got knocked out (see: Mayorga, Vargas, Joppy, Campas). Whenever anyone tried a combination of boxing and banging, the pressure ended up being too much, and they either got knocked out in the late rounds or barely survived the final bell (see: Whitaker, Carr, Camacho, Reid). De La Hoya could be considered the lone exception, but like Whitaker and Camacho, he too switched to survival mode for the final third of the bout and, in the process, threw away the fight.
Roy Jones, at this point in his career, is no longer able to box circles around his opponents. His legs are not what they once were, let alone at 170. Much is being made of Trinidad fighting at said weight, but I think it gives him an advantage. While he's been at the fighting weight since the end of December, Jones has been struggling to get there. As we've all heard by now, he hasn't gotten this low in twelve years. It will take it's toll.
To this day, I still believe many underestimate Trinidad's punching power, especially his opponents. Vargas came out believing he was the bigger man and almost got knocked out in the first minute of the fight. Mayorga stuck out his chin and almost got decapitated. Joppy--a natural middleweight who's been twelve rounds with Hopkins, Eastman and Taylor--suffered his only knockout loss ever to Trinidad, going down three times before the ref mercifully stopped the fight in the fifth.
As for the fight itself: If you don't order it--as Eric Raskin says in his ESPN.com article--let it be for the right reasons. And, actually, I have another valid reason to add to all of his: Don King has put together one of the most mediocre undercards in recent memory. But shame to those who will pass this one up and then order Mayweather-De La Hoya II in September (and there's more than a million of you who will). Because if you consider Trinidad-Jones to be an unnecessary and completely profit-driven bout, then what is a rematch between Mayweather and De La Hoya but exactly that multiplied by a hundred? Currently, in this sport, we have a pound-for-pound king who continually refuses to take on the best fighters his own weight class has to offer, something that neither Trinidad nor Jones would have done when they were atop the pound-for-pound rankings themselves.
Trinidad could have come out of retirement to face Peter Manfredo or Sakio Bika. He could have fought Jeff Lacy or Ike Quartey. Hell, he could have fought Ricardo Mayorga again. The money would have been there. But he's taking what he perceives to be the biggest fight out there, one that actually means something to him, because it's the one he wanted when he was atop the boxing world. Back then, I would have picked Roy Jones to beat Trinidad. But considering the catchweight, and how Jones has looked in his last five fights, I think he's mincemeat. If he comes to fight, Trinidad will knock him out within five. If he comes to box, Trinidad's pressure will put him to bed by the tenth.
Of course, this could all just be wishful thinking. I could just be another blind fan caught up in the Titomania. Roy Jones might just prove me wrong. His trainers maintain that he hasn't looked this good in years. But that doesn't worry me. What worries me is that the one who will prove me wrong could be Trinidad himself. He may, in fact, be shot. But seeing as though he's the younger guy, and considering everything I've said in this post, I don't think he will. Consider this: Calzaghe and Hopkins, combined, are four years older than Trinidad and Jones combined. Trinidad is essentially the same age as De La Hoya, who fights, what, once every 18 months? We might as well call every single one his fights a `comeback.'
As for what happens after Saturday: who knows? I'll say this: neither one of these guys has a legitimate shot against Calzaghe. If Jones wins, I could see him fighting for a light heavyweight title yet again. As for Trinidad, I could see him moving back down to 160 and either making a move at Pavlik or trying to secure rematches against Hopkins or De La Hoya. We'll see. For now, I'm looking forward to a knockout on Saturday. On a Bad Left Hook (pun intended). In the fifth round.