It wasn't easy. It sure wasn't pretty. But it certainly was an excellent fight and a good win for Felix Trinidad over Fernando Vargas Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
Both undefeated junior middleweight (154-pound limit) champions put their belts on the line and when all was said and done, Trinidad added the IBF belt to his WBA belt by stopping Vargas in the 12th and final round ... But that's not the story of this fight.
It began with both fighters making their "Ring Walk" entrance amid flashing lights, smoke and haze and music. Vargas entered first, after bursting through a fake brick wall, to the sounds of trumpets, violins and Mexican music.
Not to be outdone, Trinidad came in the same way, only to Puerto Rican music and explosions and all the rest. These ring walks are actually becoming a show of their own and not a bad one if you like that sort of thing, I guess.
Anyway, once the hoopla and introductions were done, the fight began ... And almost ended, too, because Vargas was down just 23 seconds into the fight from a strong left hook to the jaw. Up and down again in the opening round, Vargas managed to survive and continue on.
A key moment in the fight came in round three when Vargas was hit low by Trinidad and needed a few minutes to recover. Referee Jay Nady gave Trinidad a warning but took no point away from him.
Then came the round that changed the outcome of the fight. Early in round four, a recovered Vargas floored Trinidad with a good shot to the jaw and when Vargas went in for the kill, Trinidad hit him low again and the fight was halted while Vargas got a chance to recover.
That also gave Trinidad time to clear his head and the fight was changed. Vargas lost his "moment of opportunity" because of the foul and while he may not have finished Felix off, he lost whatever chance he had because of the foul.
Trinidad was penalized one point for that low blow but it changed the momentum of the fight and Vargas was never into it again. I saw it and I truly believe Trinidad hit Vargas low on purpose! I can't prove it but something in my gut and from what I saw, I'll swear he did. If so, he got away with it and that's the bottom line!
Trinidad also lost a point for another low blow in round seven and was within one more low blow of being disqualified. But if you know boxing, you know those low blows took the starch out of Vargas, who retaliated with a low blow of his own in round nine that cost him a point but at that point Vargas was behind on all the scorecards anyway.
In round 12, Vargas needed a knockout to win but instead found himself down on the seat of his pants as the round opened. This is where the inexperience of Vargas really showed up because he didn't know how to hold and tie up Trinidad. Vargas went down again, got up and when he went down for the third time in the round, it was all over.
Speaking of over - the line was 12 rounds over or under - those who bet the over must have been counting their money going into that final round as it sure looked like the fight would go all the way ... I'll bet they were shocked at the final result.
Trinidad, who remained undefeated at 40-0, has a bright future as does Vargas, who suffered his first loss (20-1) but who, at age 22, will recover. Vargas is a decent fighter who just got in a little tough and caught a bad break in round four that could have altered the fight outcome.
Unfortunately, we'll never know and neither will Vargas.
- It was a big weekend of boxing for Nevada and Las Vegas and it began Friday night with the ESPN2 live fight card from the MGM Grand.
The semi-main event had Jose Luis Lopez (44-4-2, 34 KOs) fighting David Lewter (18-4, 7 KOs) in a 10-round middleweight fight. Lewter was down in rounds one and two, and he took a beating before the fight was stopped between rounds eight and nine with Lopez dominating.
The main event had Angel Manfredy take on Carlos Ramirez in a scheduled 10-round lightweight (135-limit) fight and Manfredy won when Ramirez failed to answer the bell for round six.
As part of its 2-hour telecast, ESPN2 showed Fernando Vargas' younger brother Roger - he's just 18 - whack out a guy who couldn't fight a lick, one Mark Manibusan, just 97 seconds into their super middleweight (168-limit) fight. It was Roger's pro debut and Fernando was in the ring with him.
Later that night, HBO came with its "Boxing After dark" series and opened the two-hour telecast with Marco Antonio Barrera fighting the "Hawaiian Punch" himself, Jesus Salud. The 26-year old Barrera beat the 37-year-old washed-up Salud into submission until Salud couldn't take anymore and didn't answer the bell for round seven.
The main event had Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins defending his IBF middleweight (160-limit) title against Antwun Echols in one of the dirtiest middleweight fights ever.
Some of the highlights included a body-slam by Echols of Hopkins in round six. That cost Echols two points and Hopkins lost a point in round nine for hitting behind the head and holding. And those were just two of the many fouls both fighters committed.
Hopkins (38-2-1, 28 KOs) finally put Echols (24-4-1, 23 KOs) away at the 1:42 mark of round 10 to keep his title.
- Sunday from the Plaza in Vegas, Univision had undefeated prospect Julio Diaz (19-0, 15 KOs) fighting 32-year-old (he looked a lot older than that) Eduardo Perez (20-14-2, 17 KOs) in a lightweight fight.
Diaz knocked Perez down in round two just to let him know who's boss, then, as they say in boxing, got a few rounds in before knocking out Perez in round six. At age 20, Diaz has a future but he's got to fight better opposition than this.
We'll end by telling you that Mia St. John - whom many of you saw a few months ago in a Playboy magazine spread - looked pretty in pink as she disposed of Amy Yerkes in a women's fight on that telecast.
St. John, now 19-0 with 10 KOs, was fed a stiff as Yerkes (1-3, 1 KO) never won a round and was stopped in round four of their featherweight (126-limit) fight.
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.