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FIGHT WON'T BE TARGET PRACTICE TRINIDAD-WRIGHT WILL LIKELY SEE MORE STRATEGY THAN SLUGGING.

Byline: Robert Morales Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS - Winky Wright hasn't become an elite prize fighter because he engages in toe-to-toe slugfests.

Rather, he is a standout because it is so difficult to land a clean punch on him. Mix that with a more-than-adequate offense, and Wright is a tough nut to crack.

Thus, when Wright takes on Felix ``Tito'' Trinidad Jr. tonight at MGM Grand, don't expect anything like last Saturday's brutal lightweight championship fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo - won by Corrales via 10th-round technical knockout.

Trinidad and Wright will square off in the 12-round main event in a World Boxing Council middleweight title elimination fight. Zab Judah will defend his three welterweight belts against Cosme Rivera in the undercard event.

The card will be available on HBO pay-per-view beginning at 6 p.m.

Trinidad-Wright could end in a knockout, but if it does it won't be because the fighters are trading endless punches to see who can take more punishment.

``I am going to deal with him like I deal with everybody,'' Wright said. ``Tito is a great puncher and I won't take that away from him, but he's no different than anybody else.

``I am going to go in there and put my gameplan to work. I always do, and I don't care how big a puncher he is, you still have to hit me. And he's going to take some punches back.''

Wright, of St. Petersburg, Fla., is 48-3 with 25 knockouts. Trinidad, of Cupey Alto, Puerto Rico, is 42-1 with 35 knockouts.

This will only be Trinidad's second fight in the past three years. After suffering his only loss to Bernard Hopkins via 12th-round technical knockout in September 2001, Trinidad fought and stopped Hassine Cherifi in the fourth round in May 2002, then announced his retirement.

Trinidad came back last October and stopped former welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga in the eighth round, but Mayorga was very easy for Trinidad to hit. Wright won't be.

Felix Trinidad Sr., who trains his son, said he couldn't care less about the difficulties Wright might present.

``We want to fight the best, and Winky is at the top of the boxing world's elite,'' Felix Trinidad Sr. said. ``He had challenged Tito in the past. Tito has enough tools to defeat any fighter at this point of his career.

``Now we have Winky Wright in front of us and we don't make any observations based on the styles of the fighters we pick and choose. We've always been happy to fight the best, and that's what we want to do.''

There are those experts who believe that Wright could frustrate Trinidad so much that Trinidad will get lost in the ring, his power rendered useless.

Others are of the mind that Trinidad will eventually catch up to Wright and stop him late. Trinidad, of course, believes the latter will occur.

``If Winky lowers his hands and gives me his chin, I will give him the biggest punch of his life,'' said Trinidad, 32. ``I think in the back of his mind, he has an idea of how hard I can hit.

``To tell you the truth, he probably doesn't want to get to (tonight), because he probably is afraid of what I can do in the ring. But he already signed the contract and he cannot back out of it. He will see how much punching power I have.''

Trinidad has come off as being refreshed, both mentally and physically, thanks to his 29-month retirement. To say he exudes confidence would be an understatement.

``I don't want to take anything away from Winky Wright or be disrespectful to him, but I have no worries about what he will do,'' Trinidad said. ``I only know that he will be in great condition and will come to fight.''

Wright, a former junior middleweight champion, is a southpaw, which is normally the biggest concern for an orthodox fighter like Trinidad. Wright is also fighting for the first time at middleweight. This might appear to be a disadvantage for Wright, but he has correctly pointed out that Trinidad began his career as a welterweight and will be in only his fifth fight at middleweight.

The way Wright sees it, moving up one weight class is no big deal.

``It just means I don't have to lose the extra six pounds,'' he said, referring to the middleweight limit of 160 pounds as opposed to the junior middleweight limit of 154.

Both fighters weighed in at 160 pounds on Friday.

Wright, 33, is the former World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation junior middleweight champion. Trinidad has won championships in the welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight divisions.

There is a rematch clause, but only if Wright wins. If Trinidad wins, he will likely pursue a rematch with Hopkins, who is scheduled to fight Jermain Taylor in July at MGM Grand.

Robert Morales, (626) 962-8811

robert.morales(at)sgvn.com

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

Winky Wright shows off his muscle during Friday's weigh-in for tonight's bout against Felix Trinidad, as promoter Don King looks on.

Laura Rauch/Associated Press

Box:

FIGHT NIGHT
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 14, 2005
Words:861
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