In today’s welterweight landscape there are a plethora of young fighters. What most fans want from these welterweights is for them face each other. The top ten of the division excluding the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather includes Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, Timothy Bradley, Shawn Porter, Amir Khan and Danny Garcia. The division is loaded, but politics may cause these matches to either marinate too long or not take place at all. Fighters facing each other in their prime make for better match ups most of the time and give fans a definitive answer as to who is the best in the division.
What makes the Felix Trinidad – Yori Boy Campas match up stick out in the archives of the Mexico – Puerto Rico rivalry is its relation to the current welterweight landscape. Felix Trinidad entered the bout making his fourth defense of his IBF welterweight title with a record of 23-0 with 19 KO’s at the age of 21. Campas came in with an impressive 56-0 50 KO’s at just 23 years of age. Both men were young, undefeated, in their prime and were about to take on the biggest test of their career up to that point. The bout took place on September 17th 1994 on the under-card of the rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor.
The fight started off quickly with both men throwing power punches. Trinidad was moving and jabbing while Campas was the one coming forward. People forget that Trinidad, at this stage in his career, was able to fight on the inside, jab, move and could punch without setting his fight. Trinidad landed body punches, hooks, and jabs on Campas, but Campas kept coming forward, unfazed, looking to land hooks and body shots. The second round started the same as the first with Trinidad on the back foot landing power punches. Campas, however, began to close the gap and landed the shortest left hook in boxing history to put Trinidad on the seat of his pants. Trinidad seemed surprised by the punch, but responded by staying on the inside and landing some body shots. Trinidad landed beautiful text book left hooks, but they barely shook Campas. Campas kept landing short left hooks on the inside.
Trinidad went back to his corner and received his trademark slap in the face from his father. Trinidad came out determined and immediately met Campas in the center of the ring to trade power punches. Trinidad was trying to land body punches on the inside; some of them went low and Trinidad was deducted a point after one warning from referee Richard Steele. The third round was a war and Trinidad was landing everything on Campas including right hands and uppercuts. Every time Trinidad threw his left hook it landed. Trinidad’s left hook was not only his best punch, but the technique applied to the way he threw it was just beautiful. Campas, however, still showed no signs of wilting. The third round was action packed from beginning to end.
The fourth round we were given more of the same as both men traded power punches to the body and head. In this round, after a flurry from Campas, Trinidad landed a deadly left hook that rocked Campas and followed up with right hands. Campas kept coming forward, but Trinidad was able to block and evade many of Campas’ punches. Campas was taking these punches flush and it was beginning to look like target practice by Trinidad. With thirty seconds left Trinidad landed a left hook that backed Campas up to the ropes followed by a right hand that; Campas’ hands were down leaving him unprotected for a huge Trinidad left hook that shot Campas’ head to the ceiling like bobble head (not literally). Referee Richard Steele immediately stopped the fight with 22 seconds left in the fourth round. This was one of the best examples of being knocked out on your feet. The crowd booed the stoppage until they saw the replay where it was clear that Campas, after the left hook, was completely defenseless.
Trinidad would move on to have one of the best years of his career in 1994. He defeated Hector Camacho, Yory Boy Campas, and Oba Carr in 1994 with the latter two being undefeated when they met in the ring. After 1994, Trinidad would go on to have three very slow and inactive years (1995-1998) due to promotional issues with Don King. Yory Boy Campas would famously go on to lose to Fernando Vargas and have a Pay-Per-View event with Oscar De La Hoya where it was promoted on Campas drinking magic water to win. Within the annals of the rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico it falls within the middle ground of greatness. Both men took a risk in facing each other at that stage in their career. This match up may have been a main event in this era and may have taken place a couple of years too late. If you haven’t seen the bout, it has 12 rounds of action packed into four rounds.