Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For most guys, it's a punishment.
But for Kermit Cintron, a Thursday afternoon sparring session with middleweight kingpin Jermain Taylor was something else. A privilege.
"Just being around other fighters and seeing how competitive they are, it can't help but make you better," said Cintron, the 27-year-old IBF welterweight champion, in a Thursday night phone interview.
"I got in the ring with him and before you know it you get swept up in the competitiveness and you find yourself improving. Guys like that push you and you push yourself even harder."
The gym work was another stage of Taylor's preparation for a title defense against Kelly Pavlik later this month in Atlantic City.
Cintron, meanwhile, is two months away from a defense of his own, against veteran trialhorse Jesse Feliciano on the rescheduled Mayorga-Vargas card in Los Angeles on November 23.
Kermit Cintron stands at 28-1 with 26 knockouts.
The two came together through a mutual relationship with trainer Emanuel Steward, who began working with Cintron one fight after his loss to then-WBO champ Antonio Margarito in April 2005.
He's unbeaten in three outings since -- including a sixth-round TKO of Mark Suarez for the IBF belt in October 2006 and a subsequent two-round rout of challenger Walter Dario Matthysse in July.
Overall, Cintron stands at 28-1 with 26 knockouts.
"I have great people around me and I knew once I started with him that eventually I'd have a chance at a world title again," he said.
"(Steward is) more involved with professionals and we're very much one-to-one when we're training together. I've had three fights since and you can tell how much I've improved and how he knows the game inside out."
Cintron's match with Feliciano -- who's unbeaten in three fights since a KO loss to Demetrius Hopkins in December 2005 -- was originally set for last week, but got pushed back when Vargas was diagnosed with a severe iron deficiency in a pre-fight physical.
The delay hasn't changed his desire to impress.
"He's the type of fighter that tries to make the fight and he's got some good wins under his belt in the last couple years," Cintron said. "We decided to fight him to stay busy, and because it was a chance to go out and look good once again."
And from there, perhaps a visit to an old friend.
Assuming a win against Feliciano, Cintron said a rematch with Margarito could be in the works for early 2008 in either Atlantic City or his native Puerto Rico. Margarito lost his belt to Paul Williams in July and hasn't fought since.
Cintron was stopped in five rounds in the first match between the two.
"I'd be victorious next time, plain and simple," he said. "I know what I have and I know what I can do. It wasn't me that night. I was coming off two hand surgeries and had four weeks of training, which wasn't enough. As soon as I got cut, I knew it wasn't my night.
"Next time it will be."
In lieu of classic rock, here's some classic glove.
Former Canadian and Commonwealth welterweight champion Donovan Boucher, last active in the ring during Bill Clinton's first term, returns Friday night in a scheduled eight-rounder against journeyman Martin Desjardins at the Tristar Gym in Montreal.
Boucher, who turned 46 last month, closed his initial tour of duty with a fourth-round KO of Dezi Ford in February 1996. That success came just more than two years after his most significant failure, a 10th-round TKO loss to Crisanto Espana for the WBA's 147-pound title in October 1993.
The Jamaican-born Toronto resident made the rounds of the division's middle tier during his heydey, stopping ex-Olympian Shawn O'Sullivan in two rounds in 1988 and downing ex-Roberto Duran conqueror Kirkland Laing in nine rounds in 1991.
He lost the Commonwealth crown to Irishman Eamonn Loughran via third-round stoppage in November 1992, and was denied a license prior to a planned career-closing bout in 1996 in Toronto when a pre-fight MRI showed white dots on his brain.
According to the Toronto Star, Boucher said the examining doctor conceded that the dots may have been present since birth, but said the commission nevertheless denied him a license and indirectly triggered the drive to return to the ring more than 10 years later.
He was re-licensed by the Quebec commission earlier this year.
"I'm not coming back to be a world-beater," he said. "But I want to prove that they made a mistake not giving me my license back then.
"I ain't no millionaire. I want my daughters to go to university. That's what's driving me to come back. I want one more big fight here in Toronto, then it's bye-bye fighting."
Another 46-year-old, heavyweight Ray Mercer, makes a return of his own on Saturday when he meets Mikael Lindblad in a throwback card at Lofberg Arena in Karlstad, Sweden.
Mercer, who briefly held the WBO title in 1991, hasn't fought since a 2005 loss to Shannon Briggs in Hollywood, Florida. He failed in a title try against Wladimir Klitschko, falling in six rounds in June 2002.
The card, which also features former cruiserweight kingpin Robert Daniels in a six-rounder, was originally set to include Riddick Bowe before the former undisputed heavyweight champ's participation was scrubbed by the Swedish Boxing Federation.
One network's trash is another network's treasure.
The 130-pound title bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Rocky Juarez, initially set for Saturday night on HBO PPV before it was scuttled by a Marquez injury and then cancelled, has apparently been plucked off the scrap heap by Showtime.
Marquez and Juarez will reportedly get together on November 3 in Chihuahua, Mexico, headlining a TV card that will feature the also-revived IBF featherweight championship match between incumbent title-holder Robert Guerrero and challenger Martin Honorio.
Another preliminary bout on the original show -- Steve Forbes vs. Francisco Bojado -- will stay on HBO PPV while moving to the undercard of the October 6 rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
The initial card's fourth significant bout, between Sergio Mora and Kassim Ouma, has not yet been rescheduled.
Meanwhile, also living new life is the aforementioned middleweight bout between Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga.
Vargas was ordered on August 25 to take the necessary weeks of treatment to correct his iron deficiency. A recent press release said his health has already improved to the point he is "chomping at the bit" to get back to full training, which will occur in about three weeks.
The rescheduled bout -- along with Cintron/Feliciano -- will carried live by Showtime PPV.
Elsewhere, it's another big weekend for the little guys.
Unbeaten Argentine southpaw Omar Andres Narvaes gets things started in his hometown of Trelew on Friday night, when he risks his WBO flyweight title for the 11th time against lanky Nicaraguan right-hander Marlon Marquez.
Narvaes, now 24-0-2 with 15 knockouts, captured the crown in just his 12th professional fight, defeating Adonis Rivas by unanimous decision in July 2002 in Buenos Aires. He's 9-0-1 in title defenses over five years since, while also scoring stoppage wins in four non-title bouts.
The 32-year-old won a unanimous verdict over French challenger Brahim Asloum in his last outing, scoring one knockdown while sweeping the scorecards by counts of 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111.
Marquez, a 26-year-old native of Managua who stands 5-foot-8, won his first eight fights before a 10th-round stoppage at the fists of Panamanian Roberto Vasquez for the WBC and WBO Latino light flyweight belts in February 2003.
He was inactive for 19 months following the loss, then returned with three straight victories before falling again -- via ninth-round technical decision -- to Mexican veteran Alejandro Hernandez for the WBO's Latino crown at 112 pounds on June 1 in Miami.
Come Sunday, it's Mexican incumbent Edgar Sosa's turn to put up a title.
The busy 28-year-old champion will make his second defense of the WBC's light flyweight laurels when he faces countryman Lorenzo Trejo in the final preliminary bout to a Jorge Arce non-title main event at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Sosa, born in Mexico City in 1979, earned the vacant title when he upset Hawaiian incumbent Brian Viloria on a Manny Pacquiao undercard last April at the Alamodome in San Antonio. He's since defended it once, downing Luis Alberto Lazarte by 10th-round disqualification (low blows) on July 28 in Cancun.
Trejo, who lost 12 of his first 26 outings as a pro before rebounding for a run of 16 wins in his last 19, earned his latest shot with consecutive KO victories over Johnny Dominquez and Erik Ramirez in February and July, respectively.
The 30-year-old, nicknamed "Explosivo," is 0-2 in previous world title fights -- having lost to Puerto Rican Ivan Calderon (UD 12) in a try for the WBO minimumweight crown in September 2003 and to Thailand's Eagle Dan Janlaphan (UD 12) while challenging for the WBC's 105-pound belt in November 2006.
Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at email@example.com. He is a periodic contributor to the Dave Smith Show, broadcast weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. on Sporting News Radio (radio.sportingnews.com).