|Interview with Kermit Cintron: “I’m going to do whatever it takes”
The Welter Report By Gabriel Montoya (April 10, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
For welterweight titleholder Kermit ‘El Asesino’ Cintron, a shot at redemption is only days away. A rematch with Antonio ‘The Tijuana Tornado’ Margarito looms this Saturday night. The fight is the ultimate crossroads bout for both men, and is a reversal of roles for two fighters whose destinies seem inexplicably linked.
Back in April 2005, the then up-and-coming Cintron would get his first title shot against Margarito. It would end disastrously as Margarito handed Cintron a devastating defeat that would have permanently derailed most
fighters’ careers. For Cintron however, that loss signaled a new beginning. He fired his trainer and hired Emanuel Steward in his place. The change represented more than just a restructuring of his team. It changed his life.
“I was more immature back then, you know?” he says. “My trainers pretty much did all the talking for me. They didn’t let me come out of my shell. I got with my new team. With Emanuel. I have great friends that are positive, motivated in every way. They are people that are successful in life. And that’s what I need around me. It’s been great.”
The change extends from how he lives to how he works and trains. Steward’s philosophy is one of total commitment, particularly with fighters he also manages, as he does Cintron. The hard work and dedication paid off. Cintron has been on a five-fight winning streak since the loss to Margarito, picking up the IBF welterweight title along the way.
Now he waits, his preparation for Saturday night behind him, the confidence of
work well done keeping him warm.
“It’s going great, man,” he says on the phone. “Best camp I’ve ever had. Best sparring partners I’ve ever had. It’s been an unbelievable camp. I had a bunch of sparring partners. They were all great. A lot of undefeated fighters. They did the job that they came here to do. That was to get me in shape, push me around, do whatever to try and beat me in the ring. I just couldn’t believe how good of a camp this was.”
It’s been much reported that Cintron’s camp for the first bout was troubled to say the least. Coming off a year-long lay-off due to hand surgery, Cintron barely had time to train. Call it rust, lack of confidence, or just poor planning, it all added up to the worst performance of his career. But Cintron has left little to chance this time around.
“I definitely trained a lot different than back in ’05 when I only had four weeks of training. This fight I had seven weeks of training, and the sparring partners that I had were good. Big, strong. Like I said, they pushed me around the ring and got me in great shape.
“We worked on all around,” he continues. “From boxing inside. On the outside, you know, going to the inside. If we have to go in there and start kicking, we’ll start kicking too,” he says as he breaks out in laughter.
One of the biggest knocks against Cintron has been the way he responds to pressure fighters. In his bout with Margarito, a classic Mexican-style pressure fighter, Cintron appeared to not only fold but crumple. In his bouts with David Estrada and Jesse Feliciano, he was crowded, pressured, and roughed up. The difference in those bouts is that Cintron prevailed and by knockout.
“The most important thing is to win fights,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter how pretty you win the fight. How excellent you look. Not every fighter out there is perfect in the ring. As long as you win your fights. That’s the most important thing.”
In the Feliciano bout, Cintron injured his right hand again. It was a setback that ended up canceling a unification bout with former WBO titleholder Paul Williams, but which opened the door to redemption against Margarito. For many, Cintron simply taking the bout signaled that he was mentally over the loss.
Cintron clarifies: “Nothing to get over with, man. It’s just one of those things where back in ’05, I was immature in the boxing world. I’ve matured over the years after the loss to Margarito. Who knows where I would have been if I had won against Margarito. Where I would be today, you know?”
For his supporters, the first bout may have been a blessing in disguise.
“I believe so,” Cintron agrees. “Every champion loses. As much as I hate to lose, the loss did me good.”
Following his loss to Paul Williams, Margarito adopted a more aggressive start to his fights. It is a tactical change in Cintron insists he is more than prepared for.
“We’re prepared for anything that he brings to the table. We’ll be prepared for him. If he wants to come in fast, let him come in fast. If he wants to come in slow, let him come in slow. We’ll be prepared. We had a perfect camp, and we’re ready.”
As for his own plan, Cintron is a bit more vague, yet the confidence in his voice is palpable.
“I’m going to go in there and just do what I do. Just go in there and win the fight. That’s the most important thing. Just to win the fight.”
When it came to reviewing tape of Margarito, the main source of information was an easy call.
“We watched [fights other than the Paul Williams loss]. He’s a southpaw, and fights [in a totally different style than Cintron]. We watched other fights. The most important one that I watched was mine against him. And a few other fights that he had. We seen that he is the same fighter that he was three years ago. He’s not going to improve any more. If anything, he should be worried about all the improvements that I’ve had.”
Since they last met, the two men are in much different places. Cintron is now a titleholder looking for that defining bout that will catapult him to the next level of big-time fights. Margarito has lost his title, and is in search of the same thing. To the untrained eye, an argument can be made that Margarito might be slipping after all these years at welterweight. Cintron disagrees.
“They say he’s getting old as a fighter. I don’t think that. He’s been a champion. He knows a lot about the sport of boxing. He knows how to get prepared. He’s been boxing what? Something like 13-14 years? He’s a professional at it. He will be prepared for the fight. And I believe you will see a great fight that night.”
“The way I see it,” Cintron explains when pressed for a prediction, “is me winning the fight. That’s the most important thing. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
Gabriel at: Coyotefeather@gmail.com
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