Jones victory silences Trinidad fans at MSG

By George Kimball @ ringside


Jones victory silences Trinidad fans at MSG

NEW YORK ---The distribution of allegiances was clearly established when the crowd drowned Michael Buffer’s introduction of Roy Jones in a torrent of boos. That, twelve rounds later, Buffer’s announcement of the scorecards and a unanimous verdict for Jones  elicited not a whisper of dissent from even the most vocal of Felix Trinidad’s partisans gives you a fair idea of just how convincing RJ’ performance was.

The longtime light-heavyweight champion seized control of what had until its midpoint been a surprisingly competitive fight and rode two knockdowns (in the seventh and tenth rounds) to a unanimous decision in the main event of Don King’s “Bring on the Titans” card at Madison Square Garden Saturday night.

While the result is unlikely to realign the stars in the boxing firmament, it provided a strong argument that the 39 year-old Jones may not, as had been widely assumed, completely finished as a player in the world of big-time (or at least big-money) boxing.

The promise of a meeting with a man with whom he had previously jousted only on the pound-for-pound lists in the waning years of the 20th century -- along with, we might add, a $15 million guarantee – had lured Trinidad from his two-and-a-half year hiatus, and although Jones was a 3-1 betting favorite, the prospect of an upset brought Trinidad’s old followers out of retirement with him. The Garden might not have been filled for Saturday’s old-timers bout, but it wasn’t because Trinidad’s backers, primarily drawn from New York’s Puerto Rican community, didn’t show up in force.

And in the early going it appeared that their optimism might be rewarded. Trinidad appeared to have the early advantage in quickness, and repeatedly stuck Jones with his jab, as well as with a two-fisted body attack that would remain his focus throughout the night.

Whether Jones was baffled or, as he later suggested, was merely analyzing Trinidad’s game plan over the first several rounds, Jones was strangely unresponsive, allowing the 35 year-old former three-time champion to dictate not only the pace but the conduct of the fight. In the third, when Trinidad backed Jones into a neutral corner and flailed away at his body, RJ mockingly woofed back, first pounding away at his own ribs and then enacting a shuffle that seemed so over the top that referee Arthur Mercante Jr. felt obliged to issue an admonition and remind Roy what he was there for.

When a Trinidad body shot strayed slightly below the belt in the fifth, Jones turned away, and while the blow didn’t seem particularly lethal (or even particularly low), his action did get the attention of Mercante, who cautioned Trinidad.

After five rounds Trinidad was ahead on all three scorecards, and even after Jones won the sixth, Tito led on one and was even on two others, which, since Jones had just a few days earlier boasted that he would quit boxing if this fight lasted more than six rounds, was at least a moral victory.

But along about this point in the fight, Roy shifted into another gear.

He began to land combinations of his own. He began to jab. And after fighting the first five rounds in cautious retreat, he began to move Trinidad around the ring.

In the seventh, Jones caught Trinidad with a hard right to the head. Trinidad appeared to roll with (or because of) the punch, but as he tried to bounce back into an erect position, his right foot went right out from under him and he crashed to the floor for a delayed knockdown.  Jones chased him and pounded him for the balance of the round, but couldn’t close out his wounded quarry.

Jones also dominated rounds eight and nine, while Trinidad tried to maintain the same tactics that had served him well over the first five rounds, pounding away at Jones’ body even though it had become apparent that it wasn’t having much effect.

Then in the tenth, with Trinidad moving forward, Jones stood him up with a stiff jab to the face and followed it with a right hand to the head that toppled Tito yet again. As he went down his right leg appeared to severely twist beneath him, but he got up again. Trinidad remained game right up until the final bell, but was simply overwhelmed by what had by then emerged a clearly superior opponent.

Trinidad said later that “If I could have avoided the knockdowns I think I could have won the fight,” but the scorecards belie that claim. Neither Tom Kaczmarek nor Julie Lederman gave Tito a single one of the last six rounds, and the Puerto Rican judge, Nelson Vazquez, only gave him one.

In the final tallies, Lederman scored it 117-109. Kaczmarek and Vazquez had it 116-110, as did Boxing Talk. Although the punchstats weren’t a runaway for either man, the most telling statistic came in the fact that Jones had a 97-52 advantage in power shots landed over the last seven rounds.

Trinidad (42-3, but 0-3 in title fights since 2001), who said Jones “demonstrated speed and took my body punches,” readily conceded that he had been beaten fairly and squarely. Shortly after the final bell, Jones walked over to his foe’s corner and congratulated him, telling Tito “I can’t believe you stayed in there with me for 12 rounds.”

“A lot of people thought I was done,” said Jones, now 52-4. “If I get my mind to it I’m still pretty much unbeatable. One man, 169 1/2 pounds tonight, and I’m a former heavyweight champion of the world. Show me another heavyweight champion who can do that!”

Trinidad did not immediately announce another retirement, though he seemed to be leaning that way. Jones, who negotiated his way into the lion’s share of the pay-per-view sale, from all indications will end up with the short end of the purse, but is in position for another payday.

He mentioned Joe Calzaghe specifically, but the he added “Anybody, anywhere, any time.”

Let’s not get carried away there, Big Fella.

The principal supporting bout between two Chicago-based heavyweights who had qualified for the meeting by virtue of both beating Kevin McBride, saw Andrew Golota emerge victorious from his 12-round war with Mike Mollo. The decision was unanimous, although it must be said that the Foul Pole didn’t look much like a winner.

Mollo was the aggressor from the opening bell, and appeared to shock Golota, normally a slow starter anyway, but charging straight after him and, on several occasions, leaping right off his feet to tag the larger man with jabs, stinging hooks, an occasional right-hand leads.

The lumbering Golota looked for most of the night like a bewildered bear under siege from a swarm of honeybees. (“He was faster than I thought,” Golorta would say later. “He hit me too many times.”) Golota periodically tired of Mollo’s pesky attack and swat him away, doing enough damage every time he did that it eventually took its toll.

Mollo’s early shots had produced a mouse under Golota’s right eye by the fifth round, and by the eighth, the eye was completely closed, a grotesque and swollen target Mollo, who had never before gone more than eight rounds, was in uncharted waters over the final third of the fight, in which he seemed alternately exhausted and confused, but he was game right up until the end despite taking a fearful pummelling over the closing rounds. (All three judges had Golota winning the last six rounds.)

Robin Taylor’s 118-109 scorecard seemed a bit generous to Golota, while Bob Gilson and Tom Schreck both had it 116-112.

“I hope nobody will ever call me a quitter again,” said Golota, now 41-6-1. “I couldn’t see anything after the eighth, and I had to box by feel instead of what I could see.”

“I fought the best I could,” said Mollo, 19-2-1. “I got nervous and flustered and didn’t fight my best fight. I wish I’d done better, but my hat is off to him.”

Roman Karmazin’s undercard bout against Alex Bunema was billed as for the “WBA Intercontinental” title, but they probably should have made that ‘multicontinental,’ since it matched a Russian against Congolese in the U.S.

Karmazin, the Freddie Roach-trained former IBF champion, had never been stopped, and his only losses had come against world champins Cory Spinks and Javier Castillejo. Bunema, on the other hand, had stopped just 14 of his 35 foes and was clearly marked as the opponent in this one, but he scored the upset of the night by flooring Karmazin twice in the tenth round – first with a solid hook and then, after trapping the Russian in his own corner, with a volley of punches capped off by a right that thudded off the side of his head and sent him through the ropes – leading referee Johnny Callas to stop the fight at 1:24 of the round.

The win raised Bunema’s record to 27-9-2, while Karmazin is now 36-3-1.

Twenty year-old St. Louis junior welter Devon Alexander, who proclaims himself “Alexander the Great,” fashioned the most significant win of his 14-bout pro career when he solidly outpointed former WBO champion DeMarcus (Chop Chop) Corley. Alexander was by far the quicker man in this battle of southpaws from National League cities.

Alexander hasn’t lost since dropping a tie-breaker (to rock Allen) in the 2004 Olympic Trials, and made Chop Chop seem even older than his 33 years. After beating Corley to the punch in the early going with counters, Chop chop spent the middle rounds outjabbing him, and by the latter stages of the bout was embarrassing him with left-hand leads thrown with utter impunity.

By the 12th round the right side of Chop Chop’s face was a mass of lumps.  Referee Gary Rosato took a point from Alexander for a low blow that didn’t seem much more egregious than some landed by both fighters earlier. ?
“It felt great to go twelve rounds with a former world champion,” said Alexander, who had never before gone more than seven, and had previously been scheduled for as many as 10 just once.

CompuBox had Alexander landing 271  punches to Corley’s 127, better than a 2-1 ratio, and in power shots the edge was even more pronounced (204-61). Judges Don Trella and Steve Weisfeld both had it 118-109 (as did Boxing Talk), while John Mackie favored the winner by a 116-111 margin. Alexander remains unbeaten at 14-0, while Corley, in dropping his fourth straight, falls to 31-8-1.

Chop Chop didn’t exactly announce his retirement, but he seemed to recognize that his time on the big stage had come to an end.

“A couple more with Don and then I’m going to hang it up,” said Corley. “I had a great career, but I love my family, too.”

Former WBA welterweight champion Luis Colazzo (28-3) was extended the 10-round distance in his prelim against Brazilian Edvan Dos Santos Barros (9-5-1). Although Colazzo had to work harder than he should have, he won easily on the judges of all three judges, with John Signorile and Alan Rubenstein both scoring it a 100-90 shutout and Kevin Morgan giving Barros just one round at 99-91.
In a pair of heavyweight bouts opening up the card.  Nigerian Emmanuel Nwodo (20-5) knocked out Ezra Sellers (29-8) with Jim Santa counting out the Washington veteran at 2:59 of the second, while Jones’ Pensacola homey Gabriel Brown (28-8-4) battled to a draw with Paul Marinaccio (23-3-3) of Buffalo. Alan Rubenstein scored the bout 78-74 for the  340-pound Brown, but was overruled by Kevin Morgan and Carlos Ortiz, who both had it level at 76-all.

In an execrable 4-rounder on the Jones-Trinidad undercard, Miami-based Cuban scored a first-round TKO over Ken (Buster) Keaton of Indianapolis. Keaton was announced as 0-1 coming in, but it’s difficult to believe he’d ever been near a boxing ring before. He went into headlong flight at the opening bell, running away from Santana as he continually turned his back and showed the back of his head in retreat. Santana finally caught up with him long enough to land a straight left. Keaton reached out with his glove and kept himself from hitting the floor, giving referee Jim Santa an excuse to mercifully stop it after 33 seconds. In this case, Santa wasn’t so much saving the fighter as he was saving the matchmaker; it could have been that much more embarrassing had it lasted, say, 43 seconds.

•    *  * 

Madison Square Garden
New York City
Jan. 19, 2008

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Roy Jones Jr., 169 1/2, Pensacola, Fla. dec. Felix Trinidad, 170, Cupey Alto, Puerto Rico (12)

HEAVYWEIGHTS: Andrew Golota, 237, Warsaw, Poland dec. Mike Mollo, 222, Oak Lawn, Ill. (12)

Emmanuel Nwodo, 206 3/4, Enugu, Nigeria KO’d Ezra Sellers, 206 /4, Washington, D.C. (2)

Gabe Brown, 340, Pensacola, Fla. drew with Paul Marinaccio, 236, Buffalo, N.Y. (8)

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Alex Bunema, 153, Kinshasa, Congo TKO’d Roman Karmazin, 161 1/2, St. Petersburg, Russia (10)

Luis Collazo, Queens, N.Y. 150, dec . Edvan Dos Santos Barros, 149, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil (10)

JUNIOR WELTERS: Devon Alexander, 138, St. Louis, Mo. dec. DeMarcus Corley, 138 1/4, Washington, D.C. (12)

Angelo Santana, 138, Miami, Fla. TKO’d Kenny Keaton, 139, Indianapolis, Ind. (1)