Philly Boxing History

SEPTEMBER 29, 2001




On this day in 2001, Philadelphian Bernard Hopkins soundly beat Felix Trinidad at New York's Madison Square Garden in a big upset. The 12th round TKO rudely upset the unofficial plans of the powers that be to coronate the Puerto Rican superstar as the middleweight champion. The boxing establishment, namely promoter Don King, network HBO & Madison Square Garden - were all backing Trinidad, a talented and exciting cash cow with a big and lucrative future ahead of him. And although Hopkins had spent his entire career in the 160-pound division and had already held a share of the crown for years, he was not considered a significant box office attraction and had a reputation as a testy and difficult commodity to deal with. Thus he was cast as a mere supporting player who would hand his title and eight-year win streak over to Trinidad. This treatment did not sit well with the North Philly fighter.

Both boxers entered this final fight of the tournament with impressive wins. Hopkins beat Keith Holmes by decision in the opening match of the playoffs in April 2001. For Hopkins it was his 13th IBF title defense and with the win he added the WBC belt to his championship claim. In May, junior middleweight champ Felix Trinidad moved up to 160 and seized the WBA title with a devastating performance against William Joppy that made the new champion look like the second coming of Sugar Ray Robinson. This set the stage for the ultimate fight - Trinidad vs. Hopkins. The Pay Per View bonanza was originally scheduled for September 15, 2001, however the terrorist attack on 9/11 forced two-week postponement of the fight.

When the fight finally happened, Hopkins defied all the odds and expectations by winning round after round and exposing Trinidad's limitations. As the fight wore on, Trinidad weakened while Hopkins surged and showed his utter dominance. In the 12th and final round, when it looked like the fight would go the full distance, Hopkins poured it on and dropped a totally exhausted and beaten Trinidad to the canvas. Felix's father-trainer jumped up the ring steps and stopped the mismatch. With the win, Bernard Hopkins unified the middleweight title - a crown he would keep for another five years and successfully defend a record of twenty times.

The Trinidad victory established Hopkins as a true all-time great and a legitimate member of boxing's current big time. This forced the establishment to deal with Hopkins for a number of years to come. Many high-profile, big-money fights would follow, including matches against Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Tarver, Joe Calzaghe, Winky Wright, Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik. But none of them could have been more satisfying than the masterpiece Hopkins fought against Trinidad.

  1925 - George Godfrey W10 Martin Burke at the Arena in Vernon, CA
  1930 - Dick Welsh W8 Jimmy Tramberia at Baltimore, MD
  1938 - Ted Christie W10 Tommy Forte at Philadelphia
  1944 - Billy Arnold KO1 Joe Bennett at Madison Square Garden in New York
  1947 - Ike Williams KO4 Doll Rafferty at Convention Hall in West Philly
  1953 - Johnny Saxton W10 Joey Giardello at the Arena in West Philly
  1954 - Al Andrews KO3 Gil Turner at Chicago (fight #2)
  1962 - Jorge Fernandez W10 Charley Scott at Las Vegas
  1970 - Bennie Briscoe KO6 Eddie Owens at the Blue Horizon in North Philly
  1977 - Bernardo Mercado KO1 Roger Russell at Madison Square Garden in New York
  1979 - Alexis Arguello TKO2 Jerome Artis at Madison Square Garden in New York
  1979 - Sammy Goss W8 Robert Grant at Trenton, NJ
  2001 - Steve Cunningham W4 Casney Truesdale at Martinsville, VA
  2000 - Billy Peacock