For $1, select Trinidad and avoid PPV

January 15, 2008 5:25 AM
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There are no Renaissance men in boxing rings, certainly none worth watching from $15,000 front-row seats.

It’s all about money when the born-again greats continue fighting past their primes and not necessarily for the pugs themselves. Roy Jones Jr. and Felix Trinidad Jr. aren’t meeting next week (years too late, at Madison Square Garden) because they need to upgrade their squires.

But the Garden and Don King, and HBO pay-per-view which is charging $50 for this dubious pleasure, have their greedy little paws all over this promotion.

The question before the house, then, is why can’t we make some money on this farce, too? Back when they were on a collision course to produce a 2002 megafight, this would have been a non-betting exercise. Jones was too big, too fast, too good.

In Trinidad’s stoic breakdowns of opponents at 147, 154 and even 160 pounds, he resembled the unstoppable freight train. He was completely derailed in a middleweight championship bout and thus prevented from the certain decapitation he would have received by then light-heavyweight ruler Jones.

Trinidad has never been the same. Jones moved up, outboxed John Ruiz (not exactly a difficult trick) to win a heavyweight title, but after suffering three losses in a row — two by knockout by Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson — he has toppled far from being the best boxer in the world. In his last two "victories" over nondescript opposition, the unworldly reflexes and speed showed the ravages of time.

Trinidad just turned 35. Jones, by fight time, will have marked his 39th birthday. The odds, last I looked, had Jones at -325, Trinidad at +250.

Scrape off the age, the atrophied talents and you still have a couple of guys with championship hearts and they might make a sad spectacle exciting. But it would be like betting on two old thoroughbreds, each racing on three legs. The fractions would be incredibly slow, but the horses would try their darndest. The problem is figuring out which nag has the most left.

Same here. Jones will probably be somewhat weakened by having to make the contractual weight of 170 pounds. He is predicting an early knockout, almost as if he knows he will be unable to maintain his strength over a distance (and that this fight is scheduled for 12 rounds seems like cruel and unusual punishment for which the New York State Athletic Commission should be guillotined — off with the head).

Trinidad, last seen in 2005 losing every round to Winky Wright, whom Jones is still faster than, will be in great danger early.

Tito doesn’t have the greatest balance in the world; he’s been knocked down by far inferior fighters, but except for Hopkins, has always gotten up to win). However, his chin, I believe, is more trustworthy at this stage than Jones’s.

Don King called Jones "Superman — more powerful than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound."

The world’s greatest promoter did not mention that you can tug on Superman’s cape because the Man of Steel had a Jaw of Glass.

On the other hand, after moving up in weight, Trinidad has seldom shown the devastating power that scared Oscar de la Hoya and beat up then undefeated David Reid and Fernando Vargas so completely the junior middleweight title-holders would never be the same.

It sounds like the resistable force going up against the moveable object.

Why are they bothering? They have taken rationality out of rationalization. Jones argues that he would probably have quit boxing had he beaten Tarver and Johnson back in 2004, but that God wanted him to go on. Trinidad said he was happily retired, but that fans and Don King begged him to return. He listed himself as the third reason for continuing.

So now it’s time to make money

There is no way I can recommend betting on old-timers day games, and I won’t do that here, either.

Jones is the logical choice, but I believe laying more than 3/1 on a 39-year-old with a suspect chin is a good way to the poor house.

If I were to bet $1, I’d be tempted to take a stab at Trinidad. However, I think there are horses every day going off at 5/2 that would be better bets.

No, the best way to make money is to not pay the outrageous prices to watch this mess and invest the savings in U.S. bonds.