By Luis Escobar
There's an old boxing axiom that maintains, you don't hook with a hooker. Fernando Vargas forgot that time honored lesson and paid the price.
WBA super welterweight king Felix "Tito" Trinidad floored Vargas five times before recording a 12th round knockout over the IBF-154 pound champion. Trinidad dropped Vargas twice in the first round; however, he couldn't close the show until depositing the IBF champ on the deck three more times in the final round. Referee Jay Nady waved off the contest at 1:33 of the 12th round.
It was a hard fought grueling fight with Trinidad penalized two points for low blows, while Vargas also lost a point for straying south of the border. While Trinidad dominated the scoring from the sixth round to the conclusion of the contest, Vargas also had his moments. In the 4th, Vargas caught Trinidad with a classic left hook to the chin and dropped him on the seat of his trunks.
Nevertheless, Trinidad climbed off the deck and kept the pressure on the younger man over the second half of the bout. In the 12th, Vargas rolled the dice and attempted to trade with the quick fisted WBA champion. Trinidad turned out the lights with a series of three brutal hooks that resulted in knockdowns and spelled the end for the 22-year-old champion from the La Colonia Gym.
"It was my toughest fight," Trinidad said as a large ice bag was being applied to a brutally swollen right eye. "I always knew the fight would end with a knockout, even though it went into the 12th round, I still thought I would knock him out."
The fourth round knockdown stunned Trinidad but as always the Puerto Rican national hero got off the deck and went back to work.
"He hit me with a left hook and he hurt me a little, but I was in good condition," Trinidad explained.
Vargas did not talk to the press after the fight and was taken to a nearby hospital to have his injuries evaluated by doctors.
The fireworks started early in the first round when Trinidad (39-0, 31 KO's) nailed Vargas (154) with a clean left hook to the chin at the 2:39 mark. The blast stunned Vargas (20-1, 18 KO's) and his knees buckled. Vargas attempted to grab the WBA champ and hold on, but Trinidad (154) caught him with a five-shot salvo that dropped the younger fighter in his tracks.
Vargas, Oxnard, CA. was able to beat the count but within moments Trinidad nailed him again with two more searing hooks to the head. Vargas hit the canvas and his eyes looked like pinwheels as he attempted to regain his footing. Trinidad, Cupey Alto, Puerto Rico had plenty of time to unload on the IBF champ but let Vargas off the hook.
Trinidad dominated most of the second but late in the round Vargas, 22, rallied and jolted the WBA king with two wicked left hooks to the belly. Both men flurried over the final twenty-seconds of the round and were rewarded by thunderous cheers from the 11,000 paying customers. Trinidad closed out the round with a small nick in the corner of his right eye.
The WBA king kept the pressure on Vargas in the 3rd, but midway through the round his right eye began bothering him. Trinidad dabbed at the wound as if he had been thumbed but the fighters were using thumbless gloves for the title bout. With 41-seconds to go in the 3rd, Vargas went downstairs and scored with ripping body shots. Trinidad answered with a chopping right hand that caught Vargas flush on the chin. Trinidad continued his attack and hammered Vargas with a low left hook to the groin. As Vargas bent over doubled up in pain, referee Nady warned Trinidad about low blows.
--On the Floor--
Early in the 4th, Vargas drilled Trinidad with a sharp left hook to the jaw. The shot connected square and Trinidad landed on the seat of his trunks. The knockdown marked the 8th time in Trinidad's career that he had been on the deck. With 2:03 remaining in the 4th, Trinidad buried a left hook into Vargas' groin and the fighter sank to the floor on his knees. Referee Nady halted the action and took a point away from Trinidad. Vargas stayed down for almost three minutes before the fight finally continued.
Vargas began landing his jab in the fifth round and using angles to create openings. At the 1:34 mark, Vargas scored with a digging left hook to the ribs. Moments later, Vargas scored again by doubling up with his left hook and then with 42-seconds remaining in the round, drilled Trinidad with a right hand uppercut. Vargas kept throwing leather and closed out the 5th with two more sharp lefts to the head.
--Turning the Corner--
Trinidad, 27, picked up the pace in the sixth round and mounted an attack that would last for the remainder of the contest. With 32-seconds to go in the round, Trinidad jarred Vargas with a double left hook to the head. Seconds later, Trinidad scored again with a clean right hand as both fighters traded in close quarters. Trinidad connected with a swift combination to the head just before the bell and as he returned to his corner, the former welterweight champion pounded his chest.
At 2:52 of the 6th, Trinidad landed a solid jab, backed off, and then followed with a lead right hand to the head that again rocked Vargas. However, moments later, Trinidad caught Vargas with a borderline blow and was penalized another point. Vargas took his time recovering from the punch but when the fight resumed Trinidad maintained his poise and continued to score.
"The first couple of times I hit him low, they were low," Trinidad said. "The third time it was not low. I was worried and I was afraid it would come to a disqualification."
Trinidad's remorseless assault continued in the 7th and 8th rounds with the WBA champ scoring with straight right crosses, savage hooks, and brutally effective left jabs. With 47-seconds remaining in the 8th, Trinidad rocked Vargas with searing left hook to the ribs and then a rapid combination to the head. Vargas momentarily slowed the older fighter down late in the round with a high velocity left hook to the body but drew a warning from the referee Nady.
Both men scored repeatedly in the 8th, but again Trinidad had more steam on his shots and Vargas began breathing heavily from the mouth. Trinidad pressed his advantage in the 9th, 10th, and the 11th by continually walking Vargas down and unloading combinations and devastating right hands down the middle. Vargas did lose a point for a low blow in the 10th; however, it appeared as if were a make-up call in the NBA. Nady struggled throughout the fight to maintain control and as a result the contest was over officiated.
Trailing on points and with his left eye closing, Vargas attempted to open up in the final round, however, he ended up getting carried out on his shield. At the 2:11 mark, Vargas landed a sharp left hook but dropped his right and Trinidad answered with a crushing left hook of his own. The blast landed square on his chin and sweat cascaded off of Vargas' skull. Vargas collapsed to the floor but somehow managed to beat the count and was up at seven. Valiantly, Vargas continued but within moments Trinidad landed another punishing left hook upstairs and he hit the deck for the second time.
Heroically, Vargas continued but Trinidad jumped him almost immediately and connected with a volley of powerful shots. A right hand to the chin drove the IBF champ into the ropes and dropped him to his knees for the third time. Nady quickly pulled Trinidad away and stopped the fight. With the crowd standing and cheering the contest, Trinidad vaulted atop the ropes and saluted the fight fans. Across the ring Vargas, badly bruised around both eyes, looked dazed as he sat on his stool and tried to figure out what had occurred.
In the end Trinidad's unmerciful attack and heavier shots proved to be the difference. Vargas never recovered from the two first round knockdowns and fought much of the bout without the poise and composure he had displayed in earlier fights. On this night it was Felix Trinidad who was unstoppable and if you wanted to trade hooks you were going to end up on your wallet.