It wasn't Felix Trinidad's big right hand that beat Oscar De La Hoya. It was his big heart.
The right hand, of course, played a role in the tenacious Trinidad's late-round comeback that made him a winner in the much-hyped welterweight showdown Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay.
Trinidad, frustrated by De La Hoya's movement, sharp left jabs and quick combinations in the first eight rounds, won three of the last four rounds on two official cards and all four rounds on the third to pull out a majority victory over the Golden Boy.
"My corner said to keep attacking," Trinidad said. "I put more pressure on. I knew it was close."
The disappointed De La Hoya, losing for the first time in 32 pro fights, said, "Obviously, I thought I won the fight. I wanted to go out there and demonstrate all my ring equipment and give him a boxing lesson."
"Obviously, it wasn't appreciated by everyone."
In the last three rounds, the Puerto Rican landed several crunching right hands that seemed to hurt De La Hoya, who spent much of time circling away and not fighting back at least not to the point he needed to fight to keep the WBC title.
Trinidad, who went into the ring with the IBF championship, now is 36-0 with 30 knockouts.
Judge Glen Hamada of Tacoma, Wash., scored it 114-114; Jerry Roth of Las Vegas scored it 115-113 and Bob Logiste of Belgium scored it 115-114 for Trinidad.
The AP scored it 115-113 for De La Hoya.
A CompuBox punch analysis credited De La Hoya with landing 263 of 648 punches, while Trinidad connected on 166 of 462.
Of the punches De La Hoya landed, 143 of them were jabs, while Trinidad was credited with landing only 42 jabs.
"I knew Oscar was a great fighter, but I had such a will to win," said the 26-year-old Trinidad, who is trained and managed by his father, Felix Sr. "I told the press I was going to win. I didn't know whether I was going to win by a knockout or a decision."
Knockout was on Trinidad's mind from the opening bell. But the faster De La Hoya simply wouldn't let him get set until the final rounds, when De La Hoya tired and concentrated on protecting what he thought was a big enough lead to win.
"I was protecting the rounds I had in the bag," said the 26-year-old De La Hoya, who grew up in East Los Angeles. "Next time, I will be a brawler."
De La Hoya went into the fight with 25 knockouts.
Trinidad added, "Oscar deserves a rematch." He also said, "We'll have to discuss it with Don King."
Trinidad is promoted by King, while De La Hoya is promoted by Bob Arum.
There were frequent boos from a sellout crowd of 11,610 in the Mandalay Bay Events Center, a crowd that wanted to see knockdowns and a knockout. Still, it was an interesting fight and the biggest grossing non-heavyweight pay-per-view match in history.
Before the fight, De La oya, who weighed the class limit of 147, as did Trinidad, irked Trinidad, saying his opponent did not deserve $10 million.
"Am I worth $10.5 million now?" Trinidad asked.
Arum, who was the main promoter, said King was paid $10 million and $8.5 was to go to Trinidad. De La Hoya got $15 million and Arum said he would get another $6 million from television revenues.
De La Hoya congratulated Trinidad with a smile and said, "We can go to dinner now."
But before the Golden Boy left the ring, he said, "I am hurting inside emotionally."
Losing is something Oscar De La Hoya is not used to. It's something Felix Trinidad doesn't know about, but for much of Saturday night it looked like he would get a taste of defeat.
Trinidad just wouldn't let it happen.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
© 1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.