History | Sep 18 2019

On This Day: Felix Trinidad edged Oscar De La Hoya in disappointing superfight

Matt Christie tells the story behind the September 18, 1999 Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad showdown, one of the richest in boxing history
Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad
reua_510575-1  |  Action Images/Reuters/Steve Marcus

1. IT was supposed to be the best fight the welterweight division had seen since Sugar Ray Leonard beat Thomas Hearns in 1981. Certainly it was the most anticipated. “This is the fight of the century,” said then-world featherweight champion Naseem Hamed. “How could I dare miss it?” But the unification showdown between Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, staged at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on September 18, 1999, was far from the fight of the century.

2. THE combatants came into the fight with fearsome reputations and unbeaten records. Trinidad, 35-0 (30), was regarded as the hardest puncher in boxing, while De La Hoya, 31-0 (25), was considered one of the sport’s absolute finest. There was no clear favourite, and opinions swayed as the fight got closer.

3. TRINIDAD, of Puerto Rico, arrived in Las Vegas several weeks before the fight and, staying at the Hilton Hotel, demanded privacy. He refused interviews and locked the media and public out of his training sessions until there were only days to go. There were rumours that he was uneasy, and struggling to make weight. On the Tuesday before the superfight he decided to organise a public training session that proved he was in peak condition.


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