Seldom are fights won in the first 10 seconds, but that right jab to the chin and chest of Felix Trinidad lifted Winky Wright into the penthouse level of boxers.
"It wasn’t so much that Wright won, but the way he did," Lamarr Mitchell, MGM race and sports book manager said as part of the sellout crowd of 14,168 that saw a +160 underdog look like a —1000 favorite.
Wright pitched a shutout against mighty "Tito" on one of the three judges cards. The other two gave Trinidad one round. Media row concurred, many wondering just which round Trinidad won. It was that decisive.
"Trinidad has a big following here," Mitchell said. "They were all chanting ”˜Tito’ but at the end all you could here was ”˜Winky.’ We were all stunned."
Wright’s performance was sheer perfection, a blueprint for protection. He never allowed Trinidad an area to hit. The jab just kept coming, keeping Trinidad at bay. The times when Wright used a mid-ring "rope-dope" to absorb punches, Trinidad fired blows into the gloves and often below the waist and kidneys.
"We were pleased with the handle," Mitchell said. "There was great two-way action here. The early betting was on Wright, but a lot of late money came in on Trinidad (-185 favorite). It was a well-bet fight."
The 12-0 shutout was there. The great Julio Cesar Chavez was done after losing to Oscar de la Hoya at MGM a few years back. Wright just may have done the same to Trinidad. There is a rematch clause, but what would be the point?
As Winky raised his stock level dramatically, Zab Judah may have exorcised the ghosts of Kostya Tszyu with a spectacular third round knockout of Cosme Rivera in the undercard.
Judah came out firing early, sending Rivera to the canvas early in the first round and pounded his overmatched opponent into submission. Now Judah is a player again in that 130-160-pound weight class that is the foundation of boxing right now.
"I am the new Zab Judah," he said after the win. "I can beat anyone if I am focused."
It think we all came away re-focused.