Félix Trinidad vs. Fernando Vargas
December 2, 2000
In what would be his last fight at light middleweight, WBA champion Félix “Tito” Trinidad met IBF titlist Fernando Vargas in what was destined to be an emotional roller-coaster ride.
The bout started well for Tito with the Puerto Rican scoring two knockdowns in the very first round (second of the two shown in row 1, gif 1). The damage sapped Vargas’ legs, rendering him unable to competently react to Trinidad’s assault for some time to come, but in the second round, Vargas mounted a short rally with long-term implications: a grazing punch opened a cut over Trinidad’s eye. With the score 20-16 in the second round but ten rounds to worsen the cut, the bout was off to a raucous start.
Vargas’ engine started to warm up during the third time, but the bout was stalled by a low blow by Trinidad. This only incensed Vargas further; in the fourth round, the Mexican-American came out strong and downed his opponent by beating him to the draw in a clash of left hooks (row 1, gif 2). Shortly thereafter, whether by accident or by strategy, Trinidad hit Vargas low a second time, prompting referee Jay Nady to deduct a point. There were now two 10-7 rounds on the board - one for each fighter. By the sixth round, the score was even.
Vargas rode that momentum through the middle rounds, but Trinidad began to take control as Vargas’ stamina slipped away. Throughout the eighth round and the rest of the fight, Trinidad landed harder and more often, though Vargas landed hard shots of his own.
The bout reached a grueling end midway through the twelfth and final round. The two men dueled again with left hooks, but this time Trinidad came out on top, downing his foe for the third time of the night (row 2, gif 1). Vargas rose quickly, but Trinidad was perfectly happy to put him down again with a lightning-fast short left hook. Ever valiant, Vargas rose yet again, surviving only twenty seconds longer before meeting Trinidad’s awe-inspiring right hand (row 2, gif 2). Nady stepped in to stop the fight as Vargas crumbled for the third time and final time in the round.