NEW YORK (AP) -- Bernard Hopkins boasted he was the true middleweight champion, then went out and proved it by stopping previously unbeaten Felix Trinidad in the 12th round early Sunday at Madison Square Garden. The victory made Hopkins the undisputed middleweight champion.
The defeat had to be a bitter one for Trinidad, who won his first 40 fights, 33 by knockout, and at times seemed invincible.
While Hopkins' victory might have been unexpected, it was also one-sided. The 36-year-old Philadelphian dominated the last six rounds and had Trinidad in all kinds of trouble.
The end came when Hopkins landed a tremendous right to the head that sent Trinidad reeling backward and to the canvas. The 28-year-old Puerto Rican struggled up about 9, and referee Steve Smoger looked at him. Then Trinidad's father climbed into the ring to signal that his son was beaten.
When he realized he won, Hopkins leaped onto the ring ropes and started to chant, ''U-S-A, U-S-A.''
Hopkins, who complained he was overshadowed by the likes of Trinidad, Roy Jones Jr., and Oscar de la Hoya despite being a champion since 1995, got respect -- and then some -- with his victory.
Hopkins (40-2-1, 29 knockouts) went into the ring as the IBF and WBC middleweight champion, and won the WBA title from Trinidad.
Hopkins fought a brilliant fight. He gave Trinidad lots of movement, stiff jabs and, when Trinidad tried to attack, Hopkins simply outgunned him with both hands to the body and head.
In the sixth round, Trinidad, a former welterweight and super-welterweight champion, landed several shots in what was the best round of the fight. The two men went toe-to-toe on several occasions,with Trinidad having the best of it most often.
He ended the round with three or four shots to the head.
It was Trinidad's last hurrah.
Hopkins' strength began to come to the fore in the second half of the fight. He landed several good head shots in the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds, and had Trinidad wobbly on occasion.
Then in the 10th, Hopkins drove Trinidad around the ring, and just before the bell he landed a tremendous right to the head that had Trinidad tottering. At the bell, Trinidad wobbled back to his corner.
Hopkins, who weighed 157 pounds to 158 1/2 for Trinidad, continued to dish out punishment in the 11th round and then finished it at 1:22 of the 12th.
The victory gave Hopkins a 14-1-1 record with 10 knockouts in championship matches. Trinidad's loss snapped a streak of 20 victories, 17 by knockout, in championship bouts.
Hopkins earned $2.5 million with a victory that will earn him much more, while Trinidad earned $9 million.
The fight originally was scheduled for Sept. 15, but was postponed for two weeks after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
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