Bet Tito; Bring big bucks!

Nov 28, 2000 7:55 AM

If you’re going to take a shot at the big fight, bring lots of Felix Trinidad money. At press time, Trinidad was a minus 180; Fernando Vargas, plus 140 ”” as the dog.

Neither bet turn you on? Take a look at the many propositions in the accompanying chart. They may have some appeal.

For instance, if you don’t want to lay the lumber with Trinidad, you can bet a toothpick to win a lumber yard by taking Trinidad to KO Vargas in the 8th round for a cool 20-1. Even betting Trinidad to win by knockout is a respectable 9-5.

No matter who you bet, Saturday’s pairing should be the Fight of the Year.

The much anticipated 12-round unification fight between the unbeaten title-holders should be a hard-hitting grudge match. Each fighter has for months promised total war. Promoted by Don King and Main Events, the fight will be broadcast live on pay-per-view on TVKO.

Both fighters are considered the top two 154-pounders in the world. Trinidad (38-0, 31 KOs) is the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) super welterweight champion. Vargas (20-0, 18 KOs) is the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) junior middleweight champ.

By virtue of his experience, Trinidad has been installed as a —180 favorite, with a take-back of +140 for Vargas. Vegas bookies advise, however, that the heavy betting has yet to occur. The line could shift dramatically by the weekend.

The precocious Vargas, 22, had more than 100 fights as an amateur and six previous world title bouts. Saturday’s fight is his sixth championship title defense — the most for any champion at his age.

Trinidad, 27, in his second 154-pound world title defense, will be making his 17th appearance in a world title bout. He has the distinction of having met — and beaten — three former Olympic gold medalists: Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya and David Reid.

None of the "gold medal" wins for "Tito" Trinidad was more stunning than his 12-round decision over the previously undefeated "Golden Boy," Oscar De La Hoya, at Mandalay Bay in September 1999.

When a rematch with De La Hoya failed to materialize, Trinidad stepped up from the 147- to a 154-pound weight class to face Reid, the WBA super welterweight champ. On his way to a lopsided 12-round decision, Trinidad knocked Reid down four times.

Trinidad’s last opponent was France’s Amadou Thiam, the WBA’s No. 1-ranked contender. Trinidad bloodied and closed Thiam’s right eye in the first round, and won by technical knockout in the third when his opponent simply walked away from the punishment.

In Vargas’ first title fight, he won the IBF crown by scoring a technical knockout over highly regarded "Yory Boy" Campas in the eighth round in Atlantic City on Dec. 12, 1998.

Since then, Vargas successfully defended his title three times in 1999, twice by technical knockouts.

This April, Vargas clashed with crafty veteran Ike Quartey at Mandalay Bay. It took 12 hard-fought rounds for Vargas to win by decision, but it was also obvious his skill and maturity had taken a quantum leap. Quartey, who emerged from his controversial loss to De La Hoya unmarked, suffered a battered right eye and absorbed a brutal beating from Vargas.

Vargas carried his fearless style into the ring against No. 1-ranked IBF contender Ross Thompson in his most recent fight at Mandalay Bay last August. Vargas pummeled his opponent into submission with a TKO in Round 4.

Vargas has been training for Saturday’s fight in Big Bear, California. He has proclaimed himself in the "best shape of his life ”¦ for them most important fight of my career."

Trinidad acknowledges that Vargas is "the toughest opponent I’ve faced,’’ but that he’d be "ready for anything that he brings to the fight."

On Saturday, we shall see.