Originally created 02/22/99

Trinidad-De La Hoya is the talk of boxing



NEW YORK -- While Pernell Whitaker was en route to a hospital with a busted jaw, the talk back at Madison Square Garden was about Felix Trinidad fighting Oscar De La Hoya.

"If Don King as a promoter wants to promote that fight, I as a fighter want to knock him out," Trinidad said after his one-sided decision over Whitaker in defense of the IBF welterweight title.

Whitaker, a former champion is four weight classes, is 35 and has lost to both Trinidad and De La Hoya. However, he said the latest loss and injury will not keep him from continuing his career.

Whitaker underwent surgery for a fractured right jaw just before dawn Sunday in St. Vincent's Hospital, according to Donald Tremblay, a spokesman for Main Events, Whitaker's promoter. His jaw was not wired and he is able to talk.

Trainer Lou Duva said he thought Whitaker was hurt when he was hit by an elbow in the sixth round.

Early Sunday, King was bellowing about getting Trinidad a shot at De La Hoya, who kept the WBC welterweight title on a split decision over Ike Quartey on Feb. 6.

First, Trinidad is to make a mandatory defense against Vincent Pettway in May, and De La Hoya is to make a mandatory defense against Oba Carr in May or June.

Bob Arum, who with Oscar De La Hoya Enterprises promotes De La Hoya, has reserved a Sept. 18 date for a pay-per-view fight between the two unbeaten champions. He reportedly has offered $8 million to Trinidad. De La Hoya, easily the biggest attraction outside the heavyweight division, would get more.

Of course, there are obstacles to such a match, and one of them could be King.

Trinidad and Evander Holyfield, the WBA-IBF heavyweight champion, are the two jewels in King's crown. Should Holyfield lose to WBC champion Lennox Lewis on March 13, King could be reluctant to let Trinidad, with whom he has a multiyear contract, fight De La Hoya, who has a deal with HBO and TVKO, it's pay-per-view arm.

Trinidad of Puerto Rico has no deal with HBO or Showtime, but King has a deal with Showtime, and that could present a problem.

De La Hoya wants to remain a welterweight for now. Trinidad, who has trouble getting down to the 147-pound limit, said he would be willing to fight at that weight.

Immediately after his loss, Whitaker said, "Trinidad is better than De La Hoya."

When Whitaker lost the WBC title on a split decision to De La Hoya, however, on April 12, 1997, it was his fourth fight in a year. On Saturday night, he was fighting for the first time in 16 months, and he spent time in drug and alcohol rehabilitation during the layoff.

Whitaker's performances against Trinidad and De La Hoya will help fuel arguments that will add to the fight's attractiveness, especially if it does happen this year.