On September 18, 1999, unbeaten WBC welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya faced similarly unbeaten IBF welterweight champion Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad in a unification bout, billed as the ‘Fight of the Millenium’, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas. Arguably the most anticipated welterweight contest since Leonard versus Hearns in 1981, it would be fair to say that the fight failed to live up to the hype, but did produce a result that was, and is, shrouded in controversy.
De La Hoya, who was, at the time, the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, according to the ‘The Ring’ magazine, dominated the early rounds, using his superior hand speed and footwork to keep his opponent at bay. After nine rounds, De La Hoya was ahead, albeit not by far, on two judges’ scorecards. However, in the final three rounds, while he threw more punches per round than Trinidad, De La Hoya landed far fewer forceful blows than his dogged rival. Believing he had the fight ‘in the bag’, De La Hoya attempted to ‘cruise’ the last three rounds, while Trinidad stuck to his game plan and kept banging away.
In pursuit of a knockout, which he seemingly needed to win the fight, Trinidad became the more aggressive and effective of the pair, so much so that just one judge awarded De La Hoya just one of rounds ten, eleven and twelve. However, when the scorecards were tallied, Trinidad had won, by a shock majority decision, 115-114, 115-13, 114-114.