Papa Trinidad, Alton Merkerson Quotes
Trainer for Tito Trinidad – Papa Trinidad (training in Rio Piedra near San Juan, Puerto Rico):
“Tito is prepared to go all the way. He will win by any means. He can knock him out at any time, or he is prepared to win by decision.”
Trainer for Roy Jones - Alton Merkerson (training in California, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh):
“I saw some of the things out of Roy in this training camp that I saw when he beat Bernard Hopkins with one hand.”
Question for Papa Trinidad, What did you see in Jones that you picked him as a comeback fight?
PAPA TRINIDAD: “A long time ago, we had been thinking that this would be a good fight for Tito. And now that Tito had a willingness to return, and Tito could make the weight, we saw that it was convenient to do a fight against Jones.”
Does Papa Trinidad see any weaknesses in Jones that you are looking at, or aiming out or training for?
PAPA TRINIDAD: “To the contrary, we have nothing… Jones is a very talented fighter. We want Tito to fight at his very best all the time, and this is why this is the fight of the Titans.”
Father and son training doesn’t normally work out, what is your magic formula?
PAPA TRINIDAD: “I have respect, since he has been my son and I’ve been his father; since he was kid. I taught him to be respectful, as he has been respectful to me; he respects me as a neighbor and if you have that, then everything flows.”
Much has made of the fact that Tito’s previous highest weight has been 160, and he is moving to 170. Much has been made of “will Tito carry his punch’ and” this will be his first time fighting at 170”. Can Papa explain in detail what training regime he has put him through in Puerto Rico? Why will Tito be at his best on Saturday night?
PAPA TRINIDAD: “The feeling has been that as Tito has been changing from weight to weight that all his skills have been there. For this time, you will see an identical Tito mentally, physically, and with the punch and the power. And you will see when he fights Roy Jones that the power will be there.”
Is Papa happy with his conditioning and is he at his best weight right now?
PAPA TRINIDAD: “I am at peace. I feel happy that Tito has so much support. And we are very confident that when the fight day comes Tito will do well.”
The question has been, some people are saying that he will not knock out in 4 and he will knock out in …
PAPA TRINIDAD: “Tito is prepared to go all the way. He will win by any means. He can knock him out at any time, or he is prepared to win by decision.”
What level do you think Tito going to be at with time off; as you know, there is always a problem with ring work on the one hand, and on the other hand, it means he has not been and is not used to being hit as often and has been preserved a little? Can you tell us how the layoff is going to affect Tito?
PAPA TRINIDAD: “In regards the layoff, Tito has been training hard for six months, so he is prepared. Regarding the physical condition and his health, Tito is in excellent physical condition. All the medical exams have been done, including MRI’s and all other tests that are required. They have all been filed before the New York medical commission, so Tito is ready and the best fighter will win, and I have no doubt that who will win is my son.
It’s been a while since Tito has been an underdog going into a fight, how does it feel to be the underdog?
PAPA TRINIDAD: “That gives us motivation, motivation to train and to work hard. Tito has the skill, the motivation, the condition and that adds up to Tito winning this fight.”
How has the training been going?
MERKERSON: “It’s going great. I’d like to say hello to everyone out there. Roy has been training very hard. He’s been very enthusiastic during the training camp. We are just ready to go. Roy was very motivated during the training, he’s put a lot of money in the bank; did all the right things. I haven’t seen this in him in the last two or three years, maybe four years. Eat, sleep, thinking boxing. He is back on track, just like he was back when he was very hot in the boxing game.”
He’s been training for 3 months?
MERKERSON: “Yeah, you know, we started off camp back in Pensacola. We had a beginning stage, a progression stage, and a training stage. We are at the point now where we are ready to fight. We split the camp up into two parts. Did a lot of pre-training in Pensacola—just conditioning—then starting to box and move around in the ring. And once he started boxing, we went up to the mountains in California, Pennsylvania, to finish up the last four weeks and concluded our training at that point.”
Roy hasn’t gone away to training camp for a sometime?
MERKERSON: “It’s been a while. It’s been exciting for me. He’s been very energetic. We had a very small camp, a very productive camp. We didn’t have any problems in the camp at all. Everything went on as scheduled. And he’s just a very motivated guy, like I’ve known him to be over the years. And he’s ready to box.”
How was it getting the weight down?
MERKERSON: “No problem, no problem. I say no problem… if there was a problem, I wouldn’t tell you though (laughter). It’s all in the job. You do what you have to do. Roy will be 39 years old. It’s a little harder for him to lose weight than it was some years ago. But you know when you get a warrior who’s been in combat, he does whatever it takes and doesn’t complain about it.”
So many people remember Roy in his prime being the top…
MERKERSON: “From a training standpoint, those people who haven’t been exposed to it and deal with athletes you know, your body goes through certain transitions in life, especially when it comes with age. But with Roy, that hasn’t been a factor with him. What people fail to realize is that Roy came from a middleweight all the way up to heavyweight and won every title. And once he became a heavyweight—you have to do a lot to put on muscle to hold a solid 200 pounds to fight heavyweight—when he fought John Ruiz. So your body goes through some transitions. Now, you find a heavyweight at that weight, and within three months he came all the way back down to light-heavy, which is a much smaller weight, and you are not just losing fat, you are losing muscle because that’s what you put on. So your body is going to go through some stages that you really can’t explain to people how it is. They have to experience it. You know how people go on diets, and how hard it is to loose weight? And that’s fat, so when you have muscle, it’s that much harder. Now, his body has settled down, and he’s at a lower weight now, so it’s no problem and he’s back to where he used to be. I saw some things in this camp that I haven’t seen in 3 or 4 years. I see the old Roy; some of things that I saw back when I had him in the Olympics in 88. I saw some of the things out of Roy in this training camp that I saw when he beat Bernard Hopkins with one hand. I saw some of the things in Roy at this camp how he dominated against John Ruiz as a heavyweight. So those things that I saw in him during this training camp are the same things that I saw in him as a young Olympian in 88. Actions speak louder than words. I can’t say anymore. You’ll see it in the fight as it comes up.”
Tito Trinidad, who was generally a middle weight before this fight…Why Tito?
MERKERSON: “You talk about Sugar Ray Robinson, and you talk about all those guys in the old days, not trying to be historic, who came from a lower weight and came up to a heavier weight, to be successful. First of all, you’ve got to understand this: Tito is coming up in weight. You’ve got to look at Roy. You tell me one heavyweight who has won a heavyweight title in history, and came back down not only to light heavyweight but came to the weight of 170. So realistically, Tito is coming up. We are giving him an advantage. We are going down to 170 pounds. Do you know how hard that is to do? I’d like my client to concentrate on fighting in the ring, instead of making weight. When it comes to a case like this, Roy doesn’t have his cake and ice cream, too, like Tito does. So that balances things out. Roy has to work hard, and he has to be in shape and work very hard to be able to come down to 170 so he’s not fighting a smaller person. I think they are on even skill. And you’ve got to understand that both of these guys are legends, both of them are still energetic, both of them can still fight, both of them has had lulls in action. But every great fighter you’ve had out there in history, have had some downfalls and that doesn’t mean they didn’t come back. So I totally disagree with people who make those statements.”
In your opinion, how has Roy progressed since 2004? How has he improved?
MERKERSON: “He has improved a tremendous amount. Like I was explaining to everyone else and what people have to understand is that Roy made a big transition when he went up to heavyweight, and it took a lot of work on his part. He gained the weight to go up and fight Ruiz. Shortly after that he had to lose the weight to come back down because of the heavyweight fights that didn’t materialize. Mentally and physically, his body went into shock when he had to come down and fight light-heavy again. Not going back and trying to use it as an excuse but the first fight with Tarver when he came back down to light-heavy, his body was totally drained. He actually won that fight. It was a very ugly fight, and his body just didn’t look right and he didn’t have the stamina. But when he fought that fight, he was going through the transition of coming back down. Shortly after that, he had two fights back to back. After the last fight that he had with Johnson, his body had just started coming back around and now his body is used to holding the lower weight and he is doing very well. As I stated before, I’m very impressed with him. Mentally and physically he is very energetic and he is doing things in the gym that he hasn’t done in years and he feels comfortable doing them and now it works for him. So, I’m very pleased with his performance and progression over the past, especially, 8 weeks.”
What do you think he could have done differently, despite the weight loss, in the ring with Johnson?
MERKERSON: “With Johnson, you have to look at it realistically. The fact of the matter is both of times he lost, to Johnson and Tarver, Roy was actually winning the fight. And he got caught with a shot. I know he was in shape because he had to be in shape to get down to the weight. But the thing is, if your body isn’t properly prepared, and ready to take those punches, if you are in good shape you can take a shot most of the time that you can’t take if you aren’t in shape. But like I said, during that time frame, Roy’s body was going through some transitions. I can’t explain it. It puzzled me also. I actually made a statement one time that Roy and I were going to have to sit down and talk and see if he really wanted to do this anymore. Because, the reason I say that, Roy, when he comes to the gym is a very motivated individual, and he’s not a guy who needs the motivation from his trainer to train. When he comes into the gym he is there because he wants to be there and he wants to have fun. But during that time frame, I noticed that he seemed as though he really didn’t want to be in the gym. I think it was from the administrative portion of boxing. I think it was from his body going through fatigue from the weight gain and back down to the weight loss. And he was expecting to fight another heavyweight and couldn’t fight a heavyweight so he had to fight at light heavyweight. I think it was all these things in conjunction that put him into a rut. You know for a fact that if you are studying for a test and you don’t study as you go along throughout the course and all of a sudden, at the end, you try to brainstorm to put all this stuff together at the last minute, you know what, you will draw a blank and it’s just not there. Now, he’s not doing that. He is not cramming. He is doing stuff constantly. He is absorbing it. He is training consistently. Things are not distracting him and he’s back to where he’s supposed to be.”
Why didn’t he fight Chris Byrd after Ruiz?
MERKERSON: “Let me say it this way, I really don’t get involved in Roy’s administrative decisions. If he asks me something, I’ll give him my input. And he accepts it or he don’t accept it. When you get to that level of competition in boxing and you are considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world everybody wants the business to be lucrative. ‘Do I want to be a world champion? Do I want to make a lot of money? I want to be known as a great fighter.’ So, that wasn’t a very marketable fight in Roy’s eyesight. And this is my perception of what I see. Now even though Tyson didn’t have a title, and he could have fought Tyson over fighting Chris Byrd, who do you think would have paid to see the fight? Chris Byrd knew it himself. He went through that turmoil and criticism. It’s not an exciting fight. And Chris Byrd is that, and I’m not saying he’s not a good fighter. Boxers make fights. We are very barbaric if you look at it realistically because people like to see fights. They don’t like to see people hit people and make people miss but don’t stay in there and bang it up. Roy is a boxer himself, right? And what is Byrd? Byrd is not a big puncher and he is not a guy that really bangs it out. I don’t think a lot of people would have been interested in seeing that fight. And that is my personal opinion of it.”
What are your thoughts about people’s perception of Roy having a glass jaw? And what are you doing in particular, with this opponent, to make sure he doesn’t get caught out there?
MERKERSON: “The thing about that - looking at the whole picture - everyone has a glass jaw. If you fight long enough in this game eventually you are going to go down. Look at Muhammad Ali and look at all the other great fighters that have ever fought. If you stay in the business long enough—just like a welder, if you weld long enough, you are going to get burned with the torch. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have a glass jaw because I can tell you right now if anybody—I don’t care how big they are, how athletic they are, and they let me, even if I haven’t been in the ring in years and years—if they let me hit them and I hit them right, they are going to sleep. I don’t consider him have a glass jaw but anybody in boxing couldn’t say that he has one since he’s been down only two times in his boxing career. So in reference to him avoiding getting hit, I can’t do anything to avoid that. He is on the top of his game.”
In Vegas, 2004, when Tarver knocked him out… How did that happen?
MERKERSON: “I was there when it happened and I remember it like it was yesterday. Roy squared up on the rope. Tarver told him to be more aggressive. They were playing cat and mouse and then Tarver became more aggressive and when Roy squared up on the rope, he moved into Tarver’s power hand and he got caught.”
Fight Previews • Trainers • Alton Merkerson • Papa Trinidad • Felix Trinidad • Roy Jones Jr