Kermit Cintron resuscitated his waning career last night by halting the momentum of rising prospect Alfred Angulo on the undercard of the Andre Berto-Juan Urango mismatch. Cintron, derided for years as a fighter without heart, came into the bout as a 3 to 1 underdog but showed his mettle by outboxing his rival over twelve hard rounds to earn a unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 116-112.
It was an impressive performance for a boxer who was all but written off prior to the fight. Cintron, now 31-2-1 (27), flustered Angulo with by-the-book technique for the first half of the fight, following up jabs with hard right crosses and finishing with left hooks. From time to time he would sneak in a right uppercut as Angulo, 153.5, lumbered in sans head movement. With the exception of an occasional isolated shot, Angulo could do little but trail Cintron around the ring and engage in vain macho posturing. If points are awarded for blustering, then Angulo won the fight hands down; ditto whimpering, which Angulo did more than one would expect from a man who enters the ring with a dog collar. Credit must go to referee Tellis Asseminios for ignoring sham pleas about low blows early on in the fight.
In the fourth round, Cintron, 153, landed a thudding overhand right on the ear that buckled Angulo and drew a trickle of blood. Instead of going in for the finish, Cintron paced himself and picked his shots. Although it appeared that Angulo was badly wobbled, Cintron was determined to stick to his measured strategy. By round six Angulo appeared dispirited as Cintron continued to box austerely, landing one-twos and steady jabs. Now and then “El Perro” turned southpaw in desperation, but he was largely ineffective.
The second half of the fight saw Angulo begin to reach Cintron with bodyshots and straight rights over the top. Angulo, 15-1 (12), is a debilitating body puncher–particularly with the left hook–and Cintron slowed considerably over the last three or four rounds. He threw fewer punches and took grim punishment during the 9th and 10th but never let Angulo take the play away from him completely. Whenever Angulo would rally, Cintron would shoot back, deke out of firing range, or smother Angulo on the inside. Cintron showed grit and resilience during the harsh final stages of the fight. No doubt cynics who foretold, practically en masse, an imminent meltdown were surprised to see Cintron still swinging as the bout wound down. After the final bell rang, there was no doubt that Cintron was the clear winner.
Any talk of Angulo being “under the weather” should be dismissed outright; Cintron was the more skilled and experienced boxer when the opening bell rang, and he implemented the strategy best suited to defeat a mechanical slugger like Angulo. At some point, all professional fighters, including Cintron in his KO win over Jesse Feliciano, face illness or suffer injuries in the ring. The toughest ones (think of Arthur Abraham outpointing Edison Miranda despite a grotesquely broken jaw) overcome adversity to win. Angulo simply could not raise his game to meet the difficult task at hand.
With his performance, Cintron kept himself in line for big money fights at both the welterweight and junior middleweight divisions. More importantly, perhaps, he earned some sort of redemption in a sport so often unforgiving.