Williams vs Cintron: A Shame in the Making
By Gabriel Montoya (Jan 8, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo German Villasenor)        
The much talked about but ill-fated bout between IBF titleholder Kermit Cintron and WBO titleholder Paul Williams has been more verbal sparring than actual fisticuffs. If all the participants were surrounded by ropes during the tumultuous negotiations and pitfalls leading up to its ultimate cancellation, it would have been a candidate for fight of the year. What was supposed to be a unification bout that took the winner to the A-list of welterweight titleholders to beat, Williams vs. Cintron has become a candidate for best fight that never happened. For those keeping score at home, let's recap.

July 16th: In the post fight press conference following Williams' title fight win over Antonio Margarito, Williams Promoter Dan Goossen tells Bob Arum (who promotes Margarito and WBA titleholder Miguel Cotto) "We are ready for a Cotto match." To which Bob Arum replies: Fight Cintron first and then we'll talk." Goossen says "That is not a big fight yet. We only want big fights for Paul and Cotto/Williams is a big fight." Bob shrugs.

July 20th- In an interview with DHB's Gabriel Montoya, Cintron manager/trainer Manny Steward mentions Williams first among potential opponents down the line for Cintron. Steward goes on to say he prefers Margarito however due to the fact that he gave Cintron his first loss and moving past that setback is important to the fighters' growth. He also informs me that Cintron will be fighting September 8 Vargas/Mayorga undercard against a TBA that turns out to be Jesse Feliciano.

July 21st- In an interview with DHB's Gabriel Montoya, Dan Goossen lays out his plans to wait on the signing of a proposed fight between Cotto and Shane Mosley before setting Williams next fight. After being asked if a Cintron bout would be possible should Mosley and Cotto fight, he replies "That isn't a big fight yet. Cintron needs to prove himself
more. He is a good fighter and a champion but he should fight Margarito."

August 15th- In an interview with DHB's Gabriel Montoya, Cintron is asked how he feels about a Paul Williams fight. Cintron responds "I'll fight Paul Williams any day. I don't see no problem. He doesn't impress me at all. I got the best sparring partners in the world to get ready for him."

August 17- In an interview with DHB's Gabriel Montoya, Paul Williams' manager and trainer, George Peterson, the question of a Cintron fight is broached to which he responds "We don't need to fight no crybaby, Similac needing fighter. He needs to go and fight Margarito." Later in the interview he says "Give us the winner [of Margarito vs. Cintron]. We want the winner of that fight."

August 20th- Cotto and Mosley becomes official. Goossen now states that with that signing, a Margarito rematch and a Cintron bout are possibilities.

August 21st- In an interview with DHB's Gabriel Montoya, Manny Steward, the Hall of Fame trainer calls out Paul Williams saying "If Kermit wins in September, I would sign to fight Williams next in December. If someone offered us that fight right now, I'd be at the signing before anyone got there."

August 25- The Fernando Vargas vs. Ricardo Mayorga fight is postponed when Vargas becomes ill.

In the days and weeks that follow, Cintron and Main Events agree to keep the fight card together while Vargas convalesces. The card is eventually moved to November 23, in effect killing any hope of a fight with Williams in December. Margarito moves on as well getting set to face Golden Johnson on the undercard of Mosley vs. Cotto. Williams, on vacation, still awaits word on who his next opponent will be. Goossen, on the heels of a successful promotion on the island of St. Lucia, begins plans for a February 2 fight on the island between Cintron and Williams. Everything depends on Cintron beating Feliciano who is thought to be nothing more than a tune-up bout.

November 23- With the Williams bout hanging in the balance, Cintron suffers the worst possible setback. Injuring his right hand in the opening round, the tune-up fight turns out to be a life and death struggle. Feliciano gives Cintron all he can handle while throwing a ton of punches and walking through the Puerto Rican puncher's best shots. Cintron changes his strategy and instead chooses to let Feliciano punch himself out. In the 10th round, Cintron unleashes a brutal barrage and stops Feliciano on his feet. Moments after the win, Cintron confuses the crowd and his trainer when he falls to the canvas and writes in pain while holding his hand.

A week later, it is learned from his doctor that Cintron has suffered "severe ligament damage in his right hand." Needless to say he won't be available for the February 2 unification bout.

November 29- The fight is now officially off. While Cintron did ask for a March extension, Goossen and Team Williams declined. Goossen immediately sends out offers to both Zab Judah and Carlos Quintana in hopes of salvaging the February 2 date. Judah declines but Quintana accepts.

December 28- Cintron and Main Events release a video on Youtube.com where Cintron calls out everyone in the welterweight division not named Paul Williams. Goossen was outraged. "They say a picture paints a thousand words,' he would say. "This picture says 'We don't want to fight Paul Williams."

Soon after the signing of a bout sheet with Quintana, HBO executives contacted Goossen and explained that the Quintana fight was not exactly what they were looking for from Williams. "They wanted a bigger fight," explained Goossen who went back to Main Events and made a new offer to Cintron. "We said ok. You want March. We'll give you March. We even offered as late as March 29 so he could be sure of his hand. [Main Events] declined."

With Cintron cleared to begin training in January, meaning he would be ready for a March 29 date, the question remained clear. Why decline a fight you had worked so hard to get? According to Donald Tremblay of Main Events, "Cintron's doctor was estimating that he would be able to fight by March. But rather than accept the fight and then have to pull out, [we] decided it would be wise to wait."

"I like Paul," says Manny Steward, "I am very interested in the fight. [Goossen] offered the fight but it never got to me. Unfortunately, I have less say with Kermit than with other fighters I manage. I can't argue with Dan. I'd be upset, too."

As of last week, Williams is set to fight Quintana on a February 9 HBO show. "We'll know the venue shortly," says Goossen.

Cintron is in the midst of sorting out who his next opponent will be. Margarito looms as a top choice but is said to be finalizing a deal for a fight with Zab Judah. "Cintron has a mandatory (Joshua Clottey) due," says Tremblay. "So he may take that fight first. Then again he may not. It wasn't until two weeks ago that we even knew who his mandatory would be."

As for Williams vs. Cintron, the fight may not be as dead as many thought.

"As it stands right now," explains Tremblay, "the two may fight during the summer. Williams first needs to get by Quintana."

"We have an offer on the table," says Goossen. "If we beat Quintana, we would be willing to go straight into a bout with Cintron. It's really up to his promoter and him."

Back to square one. Hopefully for boxing fans and the welterweight division, the dark cloud that has made its home over this fight has now passed. "It's an important fight for the welterweight division," says Steward. " I wish all [the title holders] would fight each other. Win or lose, it's good for boxing."

I couldn't agree more.

Gabriel at: Coyotefeather@gmail.com

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