Kermit “The Killer” Cintron Goes for One Last Hit
By Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing (Nov 25, 2011) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor, Doghouse Boxing)
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Kermit Cintron
It’s been an up-and-down road for Kermit “The Killer” Cintron. Once a promising contender-turned-titleholder, all it took was two run-ins with former welterweight titleholder Antonio Margarito to undo the promise Cintron once had. Two stoppage losses that seemed even more disastrous than they were and suddenly boxing fans turned on Cintron. The feeling was that this former high school wrestler turned boxer just didn’t have the stuff that makes up a great boxer. A measure of redemption would be found in the early going against Paul Williams in a May 2010 showdown but then, Cintron’s seemingly incredibly bad luck reared its head as he launched through the ropes after both fighters got tangled. He would not return to the ring that night. Depending on who you talk to, the doctor told him not to get up or Cintron decided not to get up off the Home Depot Center floor where he landed. The fight was ruled a technical decision for Williams and once again, any goodwill (and momentum) Cintron built was once again lost.
 
14 months later, Cintron returned to the ring after signing with Top Rank and was being mentioned as a potential opponent for Manny Pacquiao. After all, he was a natural welterweight with a crushing right hand. Cintron faced off against Carlos Molina in a junior middleweight fight last July but despite all that was behind him promotionally, something seemed off. He was flat, never getting on track as Molina outhustled him all night long for the win. Cintron would return the following month, pulling off a win over Antwone Smith but it wasn’t pretty and the whispers began that Cintron’s days as a fighter might be over.
 
All of this apparently makes him a perfect fit to fight for a WBC junior middleweight title this weekend live on HBO against Golden Boy Promotions’ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, a 21-year-old, red-headed, little boxing star from Mexico. Now, Cintron gets a shot at a green kid (with a green belt) who has never faced a puncher or a fighter with the kind of experience Cintron brings to the table.
 
“Oh, I respect ‘Canelo’ for giving me this opportunity and to fight him for the title,” Cintron said on a recent conference call from Mexico. “I was shocked when I first got the call about fighting ‘Canelo.’ Of course, it’s a big fight. It’s probably going to be one of my biggest fights and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m definitely ready for ‘Canelo’ for whatever he brings. I have a lot of experience. You know, I fought a lot of good fighters. I’ve been through my ups and downs. ‘Canelo’ hasn’t had that experience and I’ve always worked my way up to world titles and I’m coming here to take the title away from him.”
 
Cintron at his best is a long-range fighter. At 5’11” with a boxer/puncher’s body, he needs space to get his right hand to land with full power. Alvarez is a developing fighter who likes to apply pressure but seems more comfortable in a boxing match than a brawl. This might actually make it an interesting fight instead of a developing name against a sacrificial lamb. For a fighter with his back against the wall, with a whole country, a promoter and a cable network against him, at least the style and experience level Cintron is facing is a saving grace.
 
“I mean, ‘Canelo’s’ a good performer. I think he’s a world champion for a reason. I think he’s a good fighter. He’s strong, has a lot of skills, but I feel that I’m a better fighter than he is,” said Cintron. “I’m strong as well and I can punch as well and I can box pretty good as well. And it’s going to be an interesting fight and, again, I came here well-prepared for whatever he brings. And November 26, it’s going to be a great night for Mexico and it’s going to be a great night for Puerto Rico and all the fans out there.”
 
An aspect of the promotion that has been downplayed is that Cintron was born in Puerto Rico. Though he makes his home in the States and has for years, he is still very proud of where he comes from and will carry the flag for his home against his Mexican opponent. The storied rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico is not lost on him.
 
“Well, there’s definitely a huge motivation for me,” said Cintron. “It’s pretty huge for Puerto Rico, you know. Puerto Rico and Mexicans are always being given great fights. Both countries have great world champions and this is going to be a huge fight for Puerto Rico and Mexico. And I’m definitely motivated for this and I’m definitely motivated and excited to win this title over ‘Canelo.’”
 
Never mind styles. Can Cintron win in Mexico against its youngest rising star if it goes to the cards? Cintron seems to think so. In fact, going into enemy territory seems to motivate Cintron. When you have been in boxing as long as he has, sometimes you need adversity beyond the contest to get you going.
 
“Well, I mean it’s exciting. I mean, to me, it’s exciting because first of all, I’m going to be fighting in his hometown and I’m excited and motivated to take this world title from him on his own grounds and I’m not worried,” said Cintron. “I think that there’s going to be neutral judges and you know I hope that they do their job the right way as well as the ref and I think it’s going to be a fair fight. So I’m not too worried about me fighting in his hometown.”
 
This fight is everything for Cintron. This is his career right now. Sure, he won’t have to retire if he is competitive in losing but it will signal a transition to gatekeeper status. It’s a role many fighters in history have played but not necessarily one Cintron is ready to downgrade to. For him, this fight is about shaking off the Molina and Smith fights and regaining the confidence of fight fans everywhere.
 
“I think it will definitely erase all the downs that I’ve had, especially the fight against Molina,” said Cintron. “You know, that was a horrible performance on my part. And I’m not making any excuses but it was hard taking 14 months off and that really hurt my career, I believe. But with ‘Canelo,’ you know, being the man he is, being the champion that he is, giving me this opportunity to fight for the world title…beating him and getting the title from him will definitely erase everything that’s happened to me in my career.”
 
There are those who believe that Saul Alvarez is protected as a fighter as he develops. There are many who feel this fight is another one of those kinds of fights, taking a shopworn fighter at the end of his career but with the kind of experience Alvarez can get better in facing. Kermit Cintron thinks that if Golden Boy felt that was the case with him, they made a big, right-handed mistake.
 
“Well I know ‘Canelo’s’ going to be taking me as an ‘opponent’ but I don’t see it that way,” said Cintron. “I’ve had my ups and downs and a lot of fighters have ups and downs. I mean, that doesn’t mean that I’m a shot fighter. It doesn’t mean that I suck [or] I’m not a good fighter anymore. I’ve just had bad nights and I’ve had my good nights and I still feel great. I feel strong and I feel that I am one of the best fighters in the world. If that’s how they want to take me, it’s a big mistake on their part. But I know that I have to prepare myself very well for this fight and I’m definitely going to be taking this advantage of beating ‘Canelo’ on Saturday night and become the world champion again.” 
 
Whatever happens on Saturday night, it says here that Cintron will try hard to test the chin of Alvarez who has yet to face a real puncher. Jose Cotto stunned Alvarez in May of last year. Alfonso Gomez gave him trouble with movement before their fight was prematurely stopped. Cintron, whose biggest win might be a decision over a then-undefeated Alfredo Angulo in 2009, has the potential to upset the “Canelo” cart. Will he? Will the officials give him that chance? Will the judges? The answer is most likely no- but as with all Cintron fights, the unexpected lurks just around the corner. Maybe- just maybe- “The Killer” has one last contract left in him.
 
“Well, I just hope that the judges do the job the correct way and that’s to give the decision- if the fight goes to decision- give the decision to the fighter that deserves the decision, the fighter that won the fight,” said Cintron. “But I’m looking to hurt ‘Canelo’ as ‘Canelo’ is looking to hurt me as well. I know he wants to knock me out and I know I want to knock him out and it’s going to be a great fight, Puerto Rico against Mexico and it’s going to be a huge fight.”

More of Gabriel's recent work:
How Do You Sell a Product like “Canelo”? Gabriel Montoya
Chavez, Jr Stops Manfredo, Jr Gabriel Montoya
Boxing Trainer Manny Robles Prepares his Matadors to Take on the World Gabriel Montoya

You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

* Special Thanks To MaxBoxing.

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