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Trinidad To Fight Hugo Pineda

May 12, 1999

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Felix ``Tito″ Trinidad will fight Hugo Pineda on May 29. To listen to promoter Don King, you would think it was somebody else.

``Tito is going to destroy Oscar De La Hoya! Give me Oscar De La Hoya or give me death!″ King gushed Wednesday during a news conference called ostensibly to promote Trinidad’s mandatory defense of his IBF welterweight title against Pineda. The venue is Trinidad’s native Puerto Rico.

De La Hoya, the Californian with the WBC belt, is King’s idea of a perfect match for Trinidad, and the promoter made it clear he wants to pursue a proposed Sept. 18 bout between the two.

``I don’t think we should take any other″ opponent, King said.

To keep fans’ eyes on the prize, King is billing the Pineda fight as Trinidad’s ``March to Destiny″ _ that destiny being De La Hoya.

After all, King admitted, the Pineda bout is a fight he never wanted. Vince Pettway, Trinidad’s scheduled opponent, canceled because of an eye injury, and IBF rules forced King to replace him with Pineda, the second-ranked challenger, instead of Raul Frank, a boxer from his own stable.

Pineda has 36 victories, one loss and one draw with 27 knockouts, but most of his bouts have been in his native Colombia.

Trinidad admitted he knows nothing about the fighter.

``I think they’re going to get me some videotapes of him today,″ he said.

Trinidad, 34-0 with 29 knockouts, defeated Pernell Whitaker in 12 rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Feb. 20. He said he planned to use what he learned fighting against the left-handed Whitaker against Pineda, another left-hander.

A more attractive opponent would be Ike Quartey, who lost a furious bout to De La Hoya by a split decision in February. But King accused Quartey’s managers of avoiding a match with Trinidad in the hope of a De La Hoya rematch.

``They know they can get more money from a fight with De La Hoya,″ King said. ``That’s why I want Oscar. The whole shebang is ours if we knock out Oscar De La Hoya.″

There had been speculation that King might avoid putting Trinidad in such a high-stakes fight so soon after his other star, Evander Holyfield, narrowly avoided losing his heavyweight crown to Lennox Lewis with a controversial draw March 13.

In addition, King’s contract with the Showtime cable television channel and De La Hoya’s contract with the HBO cable channel might conflict.

But with a Holyfield-Lewis rematch in the works for November, King said he had no qualms about putting Trinidad in the ring. And he said the HBO-Showtime issue was negotiable _ ``It’s not a problem because I can handle it, I can handle it,″ King said.

Trinidad’s father and manager was more cautious, interrupting King twice during the news conference to warn he was unhappy with the $10 million offer from De La Hoya’s promoter, Bob Arum.

``He (Tito) has to be well paid,″ Felix Trinidad Sr. said. ``We have to defend the value of this great champion.″

King and Trinidad’s father have clashed before, and in November the fighter lost a legal battle to sever his contract with the promoter. That lawsuit cost Trinidad a scheduled fight with Quartey.

Pineda turned pro at age 20 in 1991 and fought as a super featherweight before winning the WBA’s Latin America super lightweight title in 1994.

He lost a challenge for the IBF crown to Russian-born Konsta Tszyu in 1995 before moving up to welterweight and winning nine fights in a row.

The May 29 Trinidad-Pineda match at San Juan’s Roberto Clemente Coliseum will share the card with a WBA featherweight fight between titlist Antonio Cermeno and former champion Fred Norwood.

The Norwood-Cermeno fight is a rematch of an April 3, 1998 fight, also in Puerto Rico, that Cermeno lost by a decision.

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