So far this year we have witnessed some memorable and entertaining bouts headlined by the Morales-Pacquiao war, Zab Judah’s knockout of Cory Spinks and the much talked about stoppage of DeMarcus Corley at the hands of Miguel Cotto.
However, for all the bounty we have received so far, we’ve also had to stomach clear mismatches the likes of Mayweather-Bruseles, Gatti-Leija and yes, even Barrera recent two round blowout of Fana.
However come April 23rd, we may get to add another bout to the ever shrinking list of quality boxing events, when the vastly overlooked Antonio Margarito takes on rising undefeated Puerto Rican knockout artist Kermit Cintron in what will be a toe-to-toe, bell-to-bell war for the WBO welterweight title.
What makes this Margarito-Cintron fight especially enticing is that both men are power punching machines that are not afraid to dig in should the occasion call for it, which tells you that this fight will come down to who can take advantage of any available mistakes and take their opponent out. The first strike of deadly nature in this fight only supports the logical conclusion that the likelihood of this one going the distance is remote, if not outright impossible. Nevertheless, if there is one consistent thing about the sweet science, it is that surprises abound at every turn.
It can be said with certainty that Margarito has the edge in ring experience and dealing with adversity between the ropes, this certainly could be a deciding factor in the bout. Why you ask? A quick peek at both of Margarito’s bouts with Daniel Santos will tell you that Tony will not fold regardless of how badly cut or tired he gets, he is relentless in his attacks and cares little of the damage he may suffer as long as he gets his fists in there too. Here is a guy who thinks, breathes and lives for punching his way to a victory and is willing to sacrifice it all in the process.
However, that same will to win, his courage and determination could ultimately work against him against the young Cintron. Margarito could conceivably overlook the young Boricua’s skill and power and that could surely amount to a loss if the heavy handed Cintron lands effectively. Here is where Margarito can learn from the fatal mistake made by fellow ring veteran Teddy Reid when he tried to slug it out and outwork ‘The Killer’ and instead got brutally stopped for his poor judgment.
Of particular interest to some is the rumor that Margarito has been working on his defense, apparently in an effort to avoid Cintron’s powerful offense. This could be a wise decision on the part of Team Margarito; however, one has to wonder what repercussions breaking away from his bread-and-butter style will present should the hearsay be on the money. In addition, the question of what will happen when push comes to shove arises, will Tony stick to his new found tricks or will he revert to what got him to the top?
Ultimately for Antonio to win he must pressure and constantly attack the young challenger, frustrating his efforts to throw big punches and in return work the body, all the while being careful not to walk into a Cintron bomb which is easier said than done. He could potentially push Cintron into the latter rounds and take the win buy TKO or decision, but the body work will be the key.
Margarito’s ability to take a punch will be tested and he should keep his chin as low as possible. Margarito also tends to walk in headfirst which has left him with bad cuts in the past; he must avoid leading in with his head at all costs. However, in reality all these things go against the grain of Margarito’s usual working style and are unlikely to happen, which will leave Antonio no choice but to use his offense as his best defense.
On the other hand for the young Kermit Cintron this is his moment to shine, for him Margarito is the mechanism of validation for all the things he has said and done in the sport so far, his proverbial litmus test and his toughest fight so far as a pro.
Kermit’s clear advantage is his power but he is also the better boxer of the two. He has used both these weapons to manhandle his previous opponents, which include Hicklett Lau (who suffered his only KO loss at the hands of Cintron), Elio Ortiz and the aforementioned Teddy Reid both losing by way of KO. Not surprisingly boxing skills have been overshadowed by his tremendous dual fisted power, but make no mistake about it, he can box.
The young Reading, PA native has also dealt with heavy adversity in the ring, from having to fight with a cold in frigid 38-degree temperature, to having hurt both his hands in his bout with Jesus Valverde and coming in to fight Teddy Reid with a neck ailment. Through it all ‘The Killer’ never showed any indication of fear, panic or wanting to take the easy way out, opting instead to fight through the pain which shows just how much he is willing to sacrifice for the win.
Cintron, who like Margarito has always been a hard worker is said to be in peak condition according to manager Marshall Kauffman, who when asked about Kermit’s conditioning answered “Kermit will look and be that much better on April 23rd.”
Much like his rival, Cintron must tread carefully around his dangerous opponent. He can’t stand around to admire his work, regardless of how flush and hard he lands; he has to hit and move laterally and hit again until the conclusion, although obviously this is easier said than done.
An educated guess on my part sees the young Puerto Rican pushing into his veteran rival from the get-go in a calculated way, using his jack-hammer jab to set up his powerful follow up punches. We may even get to see some of Kermit’s underappreciated boxing skills as he will likely use some lateral movement to set up and batter the oncoming champion. This methodical style will be the key for Cintron efforts of a hostile takeover of the WBO crown.
Prediction? As you can see this will be a closely contested fight while it lasts and it really will depend on the fighters offensive/defensive choices. However, after so-so performances against Daniel Santos and Sebastian Lujan I think Margarito is ripe for the picking by the crisper, harder punches of Cintron. Margarito on the other hand knows his back is against the wall here and will be out to give it his all in there, so we cannot discount the possibility of Margarito ending the fight by KO. But I really believe the damage inflicted early on by the undefeated fighter will likely bring about the end of the contest in the late rounds and don’t be surprised if it’s stopped on a cut.
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