Andre Berto and Kermit Cintron shine in Hollywood
By Brandon Estrict, Doghouse Boxing (May 31, 2009) Photo © Bob Kolb  
Live from Hollywood, Florida, HBO’s Boxing After Dark telecast produced 24 reasonably entertaining rounds of action, with the network’s chosen heir, Andre Berto, and the up and down, until tonight that is, Kermit Cintron taking big steps forward in their respective careers’.

With minimal objection, tonight’s biggest winner was Kermit “The Killer” Cintron, rebounding from two bruising(and possibly tainted) losses to exiled Antonio Margarito, and a Draw in his last bout on HBO, a Junior Middlweight title challenge against Champion, Sergio Martinez, to hand HBO’s top 154 lb. prospect, Alfredo Angulo, the very first loss of his young pro career via wide unanimous decision. The bout was a title eliminator, for the right to become the mandatory to the aforementioned Martinez, and a Cintron victory greases the skids for a rematch of that very same controversial draw just a few months back.

Cintron, 31-2-1 (27), redeemed himself in the eyes of many by thoroughly out-boxing the rugged Angulo, who falls to 15-1 (12). From the very beginning, Cintron’s truer form and movement allowed him to find the mark on huge right hands to the head of the young Mexican, leading with his jab and being careful enough not to get caught up in the slugfest that would have presented Angulo his greatest chance at victory.

“The Killer,” who unofficially tipped the scales at a whopping 169 lbs. tonight, was able to land the cleaner harder shots and avoid danger through much of the duration of the fight. His truest test came midway through the bout, when though it seemed his punching power may have been giving Angulo something to think about, Alfredo continued to walk Kermit down applying the kind of pressure that many, including this writer, thought would be Kermit’s undoing, just as it was when applied similarly by Margarito a year or so back and a few years before that in their first match-up. It just wasn’t to be however, not on this night. Cintron, clearly in control but beginning to gas in the latter portion of the fight, maintained his composure against his stalking opponent, weathering a few good shots in the process, and was able to stick to his game-plan while dishing out his own hard jab-cross combinations, incorporating an improved left-hook into his arsenal.

As Cintron slowed, Angulo was able to begin his own rally, though it would prove too little too late. And in perhaps his most impressive display of heart and in an indication of a renewed confidence in his abilities, Cintron, far ahead on points, chose to engage Angulo in Round 12, taking the fight to the younger, fresher man and capping off a return to relevance in a career suddenly full of opportunity in either the Jr. Middleweight or Welterweight divisions.

Angulo, who managed to win just 4 rounds on each of the three judges official scorecards, showed the will and spirit of a champion himself, something his fans and handlers can take solace in as he goes back to the drawing board to see what can be learned in defeat. He did fall into showing his frustration, as evidenced by his bully-tactics toward the tail end of the fight and in his darting from the ring to avoid the obligatory post-fight interview, but losing your first professional bout takes its toll on many a fighter’s psyche and his anger didn’t result in any extraordinary circumstances. If “El Perro,” can work on keeping his guard up, cutting the ring off more effectively and moving his head on the way in, he’ll surely be right back on track sooner than later.

In the main event, budding Welterweight star Andre Berto turned in his most skillful, though not as aesthetically pleasing, performance to date, virtually shutting out the tough, tank-like Jr. Welterweight title-holder, Juan Urango over 12 lopsided rounds. Berto, 25-0 (19), at least in my own opinion, showed marked improvement defensively, and should’ve gotten more credit than the HBO team, lead tonight by Bob Papa, with Lennox Lewis and Max Kellerman providing the color commentary, gave him. He showed flashes of being the elite fighter that everyone continues to wait fully spill out of him, darting in and out beautifully connecting on hard punches thrown with ill intentions, and leaving Urango looking lost and desperate on occasion with his speed and footwork.

In speaking with Andre a couple of months back, as soon as the news of this fight coming together had broke, I joked that with Urango being a Jr. Welterweight, and already having lost to Ricky Hatton back in 2007, Andre would not be paid as much due in winning this fight if he wasn’t able to become the first man to stop the tough Colombian. To Berto’s credit, he publicly stated that the KO was his intention and threw the sorts of shots necessary, even putting himself in harms way by trading with the slower more stationary man, and harder puncher on many an occasion throughout.

To sum it up, there wasn’t a whole lot that Berto did wrong tonight. He out-quicked, out-worked, out-punched, and even pushed Urango, who has the upper body build of a small truck, back on the inside when he had to.

In life we find, however, that nothing is perfect,and Berto allowed himself to be hit to the body far too often. He did a better job protecting his chin than in fights past, but allowing a wrecking-ball like Urango to get at your body over 100 times is flirting with disaster. For Andre, improving on his in-fighting would really serve him well down the line, as consistent haphazard clinches really threw off the pace of this fight in spots, and left him open to some of those shots. But, again to his credit, the body-work, which did seem to freeze Berto at least once or twice, didn’t slow him down like it may have done 9 of 10 Urango opponents. Just think Ricky Hatton lifting his back leg off of the mat to try and cope with absorbing one of those gut-busters in Vegas 2 years ago.

In the end, Berto failed to deliver on the Knockout, but I’m sure he’d settle for finally using his tremendous speed and athletic ability to his advantage in the science aspect of the sport, hitting and not getting hit….AS MUCH. He did what he had to do, and ended up with a victory over Urango that was as, or more, decisive and convincing as what the then pound-for-pound rated “Hitman” was able to do.

Is Berto ready to join the elite? Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley? I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say he beats these guys just yet, but why not now? Throw him in there and let him learn on the job, he possesses the natural skill and ability to be competitive with most any of the big names at 147 lbs., at the very least. His promoter, Lou Dibella, tried making a Shane Mosley fight a few months back, that actually would’ve happened in place of tonight’s bout, but Sugar Shane respectfully declined, hoping to get a superfight with the Manny Pacquiao/Ricky Hatton winner, or the returning Floyd Mayweather Jr. Neither of those things have happened, and don’t appear to be in cards for Mosley anytime soon, and such a long stretch of inactivity isn’t advisable to an older fighter coming off such as great a win as Shane did in KO’ing Margarito earlier this year. You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.

However, it’s readily apparent that Mosley will have to take a fight in the interim, and it’s conceivable that it could be against Berto. Hey, though not so similar in fighting style, Miguel Cotto showed us that Mosley has some difficulty with guys who possess good handspeed and can box. Add to that, Andre is much quicker on his feet than Miguel is. The only X-factor would be his chin, as he does leave openings from time to time to be hit, and he’s been rocked by lighter hitters such as Luis Collazo, and even dropped by perennial “look-good against” opponent, Cosme Rivera, a guy who was blown out by none other than Zab Judah. But you know what? Sugar Shane Mosley vs. Andre Berto next? I say why wait.

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