Boxing
A Florida renaissance for Kermit Cintron
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Wearing a pedestrian green T-shirt and sunglasses, Kermit Cintron stood quietly to the side of the post-fight media conference room Saturday, looking every bit as much the interested bystander as the evening's biggest in-ring story.

And by the time he grabbed a microphone to answer some questions a few minutes later, he didn't need to say much. His presence had already been announced.

"I've been a fan of Kermit Cintron's since long before I promoted him," gushed a jubilant Lou DiBella. "He's a tremendous puncher and he's a tremendous athlete, but I've sort of been waiting for that night that he was going to put it all together.

"And tonight was that night. He should be so proud of himself for this, because the performance he gave tonight was the kind of thing that you'll remember forever."

Dismissed as a major threat after a second loss to Antonio Margarito in 2008 and an ugly draw with Sergio Martinez four months ago, the Puerto Rican- turned-Pennsylvanian rebounded impressively with a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Alfredo Angulo.

Angulo, now 15-1, came in with an 11-fight stoppage streak and was among the reigning flavors of the month for cable giant HBO, which broadcast the fight as the opener of its two-pronged "Boxing After Dark" card from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.


Kermit Cintron appears to have finally exorcised the demons of Margarito.
But instead of a violent rise in class for the ex-Olympian, the night turned into redemption for Cintron, 29, who earned a title shot at 154 pounds and re- opened several potentially lucrative doors at 147 pounds, where he held a world title from 2006-08.

"I don't think that there's been a fighter more maligned in the press and dragged through the dirt than this guy," manager Josh Dubin said. "So for him to come out here and shut people up while all he wanted to do was prove things to himself, I think speaks volumes. This guy deserves a lot of credit. It's a great story for boxing."

Cintron earned scores of 116-112 from all three ringside judges, winning eight of 12 rounds across the board.

BoxingScene.com saw it the same way from press row, giving Cintron a 116-112 nod.

"It's the best (performance I've had), but there's more to come," Cintron said.

"(Trainer) Ronnie (Shields) is changing me as a fighter. It started tonight. You saw what I can do and I know that there's a lot more I can do."

The bout was an eliminator for a shot at the World Boxing Council super welterweight championship now held by Martinez, who became the full-fledged claimant when former title-holder Vernon Forrest was stripped earlier this year.

Still, a return bout between the two is far from automatic in spite of Saturday's result, according to DiBella, who promotes both men as well as WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto -- who defeated challenger Juan Urango in the main event.

"It's not necessarily the case that the rematch is going to happen," DiBella said.

"We're going to look at all options. At this stage of Kermit's career, we're going to go for the biggest opportunity. And if there's a bigger opportunity than Sergio, then I'm going to put Kermit in that fight."

Now 31-2-1 in nine years as a pro, Cintron also appeared to have finally exorcised the demons of Margarito, who stopped him in five rounds for his first loss in 2005 before ending their rematch in six rounds three years later.

Once regarded as "the most feared man in boxing," Margarito now resides among the most disgraced following a suspension for having an illegal substance in his hand wraps during a January loss to Shane Mosley.

When asked if his two losses should now carry an asterisk because of the subsequent controversy, Cintron was succinct.

"Margarito? I don't give a (crap) about Margarito right now, to be honest with you," he said. "The past is the past. All I can really say is I'm just looking forward to the future, and that started tonight with the fight that I just had.

"I just want to continue with my career. I'm looking forward to the future right now and I'm sure my team and my family are as well."

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Though Cintron and his team were reticent to bash Margarito, DiBella fired away.

"I think he has the right attitude that he has to have. It's in the past and what's happened has happened," DiBella said. "But Tony Margarito cheated. He's a cheater. And he cheated in a way that could seriously harm the health of guys he should have total respect for, his opponents and fellow fighters. Shame on him."

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Angulo promoter Gary Shaw gave Cintron credit while simultaneously allowing that illness might have played a role in Angulo's sub-par performance.

"Kermit, you won. If you fight Martinez like you fought tonight, you'll be the 154-pound WBC champion with no problem," he said. "I'm hurting and Alfredo is hurting. I'm going to tell you what happened because everyone wants to know what happened, however there are no excuses. This is Kermit's night.

"On Tuesday, Angulo wasn't feeling great, and I wanted him to pull out of the fight. But in Spanish, he kept saying 'Contrato, contrato,' which means he signed for the fight and he's doing the fight no matter what.

"Then today at lunch, he ordered like he was going to eat pretty well at Chili's, and then he wound up not eating lunch. He only took about three bites. I said 'What's wrong?' and he said 'Malo.' And I said 'Do you still want to fight?' and he said 'Yes.' So, it's not an excuse. I'm letting you know what happened."

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This week's title-fight schedule:

No world title fights scheduled.

Last week's picks: 2-0 (100 percent) Overall picks record: 95-37 (72 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 20-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to Stone Cold Sports on the MVN Network (stonecoldsports.com) and several sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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