In the strangest ending to a fight I have ever seen in person, Paul “The Punisher” Williams won a technical split decision over Kermit “The Killer” Cintron in their junior middleweight bout at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.
The action started tight with a lot of respect between both men as they met at center and touched gloves. Cintron was using more upper body movement than usual, making Williams, who was using the jab to start, miss a lot. Both men searched for range. Williams landed the first blow, a jab, and Cintron got in a right hand that didn’t get all the way home, but a left hook seemed to. Williams came back later with a right hook that got Cintron’s attention, but he seemed to take it well. A hard left hand by Williams landed and Cintron came back with a right hand that got some respect. It was a tough, tight round that could have gone either way. Between the two, however, Cintron seemed more in rhythm.
In the second, Cintron stayed with his plan, fighting small, making Williams look for him. Both men got off the jab in rapid succession, but neither established dominance. A jab landed hard for Williams. Both men stood and stared at center ring looking to land something of note. Some boos could be heard as the fans wanted more action. But it appeared that both men knew one shot could get the other out of there and weren’t looking to go to war just yet. Cintron picked off Williams’ jabs with his gloves and tried to get into range himself while attempting to feint Williams out of position. Cintron blocked a couple of right jabs/left hands by Williams and answered with a right near the bell, grazing his opponent.
In the third, Williams began to land his jab a bit more. Cintron came back with a body shot, and, as before, multiple jabs then were thrown by both men. A right by Cintron got through the guard of Williams but still, it didn’t land with full effect. A right by Cintron and then another landed. Williams came back with a left hand later in the round that grazed Cintron, who answered with a right hand graze of his own. Then Cintron got in a left hook, but ate two Williams body shots. A left lead near the bell landed for Williams, but Cintron answered right back with a cross.
The fight was beginning to heat up.
It seemed to reach full boil in the fourth when Williams came out loaded for bear and went straight to Cintron, throwing the jab and landing his left hand flush as Cintron had his back to the ropes. Another landed flush for Williams and the crowd went bananas. Then Cintron did what no one expected: he answered the pressure and dropped a flush right hand that caught Williams dead in the face and hurt him. Suddenly the tables were turning. Williams began to back up, Cintron came off the ropes and the fight was on. The round lasted only a minute and already you could tell this was going to be a war for as long as it lasted. Then oddity struck.
A right hand by Cintron just missed home, but Williams’ legs looked a bit wobbly. A left hook miss by Cintron missed, but caused the two to clinch and tangle up. They both tripped, hit the mat and Williams ended up on his back while Cintron was not so lucky. He tumbled to the canvas, tried to untangle from Williams and ended up falling out the ring, hit a monitor on his way down and then smacked his head and shoulder on the hard, tennis-court surface.
“He tried to continue,” said Cintron’s promoter Lou DiBella. “He said, ‘I hurt my back when I landed, but I am good to go.’ But the doctor stopped the fight.”
As DiBella said, the doctor waved off the fight after seeing how hard Cintron hit his head, after landing. Despite being a 12-round fight, the Association of Boxing Commission’s unified rules were not in effect. Instead, it was up to the California State Athletic Commission’s rules. Had it been up to the ABC, the fight would have been ruled a no-contest. Four complete rounds would be needed in order to fully judge the action and render a decision, in case of a foul or injury that leaves one combatant unable to continue. But under the CSAC rules, only three rounds need to be completed. This is odd, considering this was a 12-round bout.
The scores were as follows: Judge Cantu had it 40-36 for Cintron. Judge Kim had it 40-36 and Judge Werner had it 39-37 for Williams.
“We argued about this rule before the fight,” said Cintron trainer Ronnie Shields. “[Referee] Lou Moret came in the dressing room and told us, before the fight, we would be suing this rule and not the ABC [‘s rule]. Either way, they stole the fight from us. We were winning that fight.”
“How can you score a fight after three rounds?” asked DiBella. “I don’t blame [Williams’ promoter Dan] Goossen or Williams. But if I had to score, I didn’t think [Cintron] was losing.”
No word whether there will be a rematch or if Williams will move on.
“I hate to see a fighter get hurt like,” said Williams. “I wanted to hurt him. But with a punch, not him falling out of the ring.”
For the record, the majority of press row had Cintron winning when the fight ended. To be fair, the fight was heating up and it was too early to tell who had won or was going to.
In a heated battle on the undercard, Argenis Mendez scored a majority decision over Martin Honorio in a seesaw battle between a come-forward brawler (Honorio) and a slick, technical boxer (Mendez). Honorio came out hard and fast, using volume to back off Mendez, who pressed forward behind a Mayweather-esque defense.
The battle was a kind of a “What do you like?” affair. The sharp punches of Mendez or the volume and hard pressing attack of Honorio? Time and again, Honorio would unleash hard flurries to the body, only to by countered hard by uppercuts and lead hooks by Mendez, who appears to a helluva young talent. But as he tired, Mendez’ offense went away and Honorio began to come on strong. In the end, the judges liked the sharper punches and better defense of Mendez. Scores were 114-114 and 116-112 twice for Mendez.