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Sunday Punch: Felix Trinidad stops Fernando Vargas in six-knockdown war

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Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since this classic between “Tito” Trinidad and Fernando Vargas.

I’m biased. Felix Trinidad is one of the first fighters I gravitated towards when I became a boxing fan. The Puerto Rican sensation was undoubtedly one of the hardest punchers of his era and I’m spoiled for choice as far as knockouts to show you.

This week’s Sunday Punch doesn’t quite align as an “On this day...” but it’s close enough. On December 2nd, 2000, Trinidad took on Fernando Vargas in a battle of undefeated junior middleweight champions. Trinidad held the WBA title, while Vargas was the IBF’s beltholder. An all-action thriller was expected and that’s what we got.

Felix was never much of a believer in a feel-out process. He decked Vargas twice in the opening round and you’d expect it to be over soon. Wrong! Oxnard’s Vargas rallied back and put Trinidad on the canvas in round four. Sure enough, this woke Trinidad up and he took control in the latter stages of the bout, and he saved his best for literally the last round. Not one, not two, but three knockdowns of Vargas sealed the deal and ended this six-knockdown roller coaster ride.

Watch the video of the highlights at the top of the page.

Trinidad moved up to middleweight following this win, entering a special four-man tournament to crown an undisputed champion. He starched William Joppy before he was outclassed and stopped by Bernard Hopkins for the first loss of his career. Trinidad never recovered from that defeat and retired in 2008 after a lackluster display against Roy Jones Jr. Tito was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014, with a record of 42-3 (35 KOs). Vargas (26-5, 22 KOs) was later beaten by Oscar De La Hoya in another title unification match and largely drifted out of the spotlight from there. His last fight occurred in 2007, when he dropped a decision to Ricardo Mayorga.