While his fight wasn’t the main event on the card, Kermit Cintron became the talk of the boxing world over the weekend when he threw a wrench into HBO’s plans by handing the organization’s groomed junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo his first loss.
In what was set up as a chance for Angulo to take his game to the next level, not to mention an opportunity to add to the storied rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico, Cintron scored a minor upset by coming in with a game plan to box and move and never getting too far removed from that game plan, despite a late rally from Angulo over the final third of the fight.
Cintron controlled the first round with his jab and mixed in some power shots on Angulo, who landed some strong counter right hands of his own but not nearly enough to salvage the round. Angulo spent the second round coming forward and began scoring more frequently, but Cintron still managed to do enough work for the majority of the round to win it and take an early lead against an aggressive fighter not used to being behind.
Fighting as well as he ever has, Cintron dominated Angulo in the third, landing some crushing rights to the head. With under a minute to go in the round, Cintron laid into Angulo with a huge left hook that lifted the Mexican’s leg off the canvas. Angulo demonstrated the strength of his beard as he continued to trade with Cintron for the remainder of the round. But even the strongest chins fold when hit with enough sledgehammer shots, which is what Cintron, now feeling in complete control, started to open up and throw in the fourth round, repeatedly snapping Angulo’s head back with straight right hands. A minute into the round, Cintron landed a big right to the head that momentarily wobbled Angulo. Cintron continued to smash in power shots for the rest of the round, looking increasingly dominant.
Cintron came back to his corner with a small cut over his left eye after the round, but trainer Ronnie Shields, aware of Cintron’s history of breaking down mentally, wisely lied and assured his man that there was no cut. The fifth round saw some good exchanges as Angulo picked up the pace. After eating a straight right to the face, he lifted his gloves and beckoned Cintron to bring more punishment. Angulo upped the pressure but couldn’t keep Cintron in one place, and Cintron pulled further ahead by landing the cleaner, more effective punches once again. While round five had been competitive, round six was another masterful performance by Cintron as he boxed well from a distance and caught Angulo coming in with walloping shots to the head.
After hearing from his trainer, Clemente Medina, that he had lost every round, Angulo grew desperate in round seven, complaining to Referee Telis Assimenios that a belt shot from Cintron hit him low. Cintron had been warned twice prior, including once in the same round, which suggested Angulo was hoping for a point deduction to help him out on the cards. When that didn’t work, Angulo complained the first time that Cintron held him. Next, Angulo tried going southpaw, but none of his efforts turned the fight. Instead, Cintron beat Angulo up while going backwards, clipping the Mexican with volleys of counter shots to the chin as Angulo unsuccessfully tried to increase the pressure and drag Cintron into a brawl.
Switching between conventional and southpaw stances, Angulo sustained his attack throughout round eight, and, while he got tagged by almost as many counter punches from Cintron, he appeared to do more damage and finally earn a round. Cintron smacked home a big right before the bell, and Angulo answered with a right of his own after the bell, but Cintron posed for the crowd briefly in a way that said he was still in complete control of the fight. Round nine was fought on similar terms, each fighter getting their licks in. While Cintron appeared to edge the round, he also looked to be tiring badly.
After yet another competitive round in the tenth, this one edged by Angulo, the Mexican stood over a crouching Cintron at the bell in a last ditch attempt at intimidation before the championship rounds – rounds Angulo had never before had a fight go into before. He fought well for his inexperience, winning the eleventh round on aggression. After the bell, Angulo, who was becoming more unsportsmanlike with every passing round, went after Cintron before Assimenios broke them up. The crowd had grown tired of Angulo’s antics by that point and let him know it with a chorus of boos.
Having been told he needed a knockout to win several rounds earlier, Angulo went for broke in the twelfth, but it was Cintron who managed to win the round, despite fighting almost the entire three minutes in reverse. Angulo walked into a head-turning left hook moments into the round. From there, Cintron punched, ducked, backpedaled and held his way through the final round and even landed the best punch of the fight in the twelfth – a huge right hand that shook the head of Angulo. Cintron showed heart and wit by winning a round that appeared to earn him a clear victory in spite of Angulo’s rally over the last five rounds.
Sure enough, all three judges scored the bout 116-112 in favor of Cintron. And, not surprisingly, Angulo immediately left the ring after the decision rather than congratulate Cintron on his victory. After only fifteen professional fights, it now looks as though Angulo was pushed far too hard by HBO and his promotional team. Cintron is an upper tier fighter who knows how to box. Depending on how Angulo responds to his first loss – and it looks like he didn’t take it well at all given the way he left the ring – he could be in serious jeopardy of becoming another exciting fighter that makes for good fights but can’t win the big ones, like Ricardo Mayorga or Edison Miranda. That’s a path that can guarantee good money for a while but not a legacy.
With the win, Cintron again becomes a significant player in boxing. He could argue being undefeated, with his only two losses coming against Antonio Margarito, who almost certainly used loaded gloves to knock the Puerto Rican out in 2005 and 2008. Cintron’s only other blemish is from a fight with Sergio Martinez from February, where Cintron was actually knocked out, bizarrely allowed to continue by the referee and still appeared to lose on the cards but ended up with a draw. Now that Martinez appears set to assume the WBC title from the injured Vernon Forrest, the fight that makes most sense is a rematch between Martinez and Cintron. After all, Angulo was being groomed to take on Martinez next, and Cintron defeated Angulo with relative ease. Cintron’s win over Angulo officially makes him the mandatory opponent for Martinez, so not only should it happen but it appears that it will.
BERTO WINS WIDE UNANIMOUS DECISION OVER URANGO
In the main event, another HBO-groomed fighter, WBC Welterweight Champion Andre Berto, spent twelve rounds outclassing an overmatched Juan Urango en route to a wide unanimous decision to continue his undefeated streak and march toward bigger and better fights.
While Urango has a pretty solid resume, his only official loss coming to Ricky Hatton prior to this fight, he is a junior welterweight, thus giving up the power advantage he enjoys against fighters in his own weight class, where he holds the IBF title. Against Berto, he was grossly out of his league and looked like it all night.
Fighting in his home state of Florida, Berto used his blazing hand speed to befuddle Urango in round one. In fact, the only blows Urango got in were with his head as the fighters stepped into each other and clashed heads on two occasions. Berto started stepping in and winging wild, almost panicky right hands to the side of Urango’s head in round two, and Urango again failed to do anything significant.
Urango picked up the pace in round three and ran into a big uppercut from Berto. After trying to answer with a combination, Urango fell backward over Berto’s leg and crashed into the canvas. Referee Tommy Kimmons correctly ruled it a slip while Berto tried to suggest he had scored a knockdown on the hard-chinned Urango. Berto won the round easily in any event.
Very few clean punches had been landed through three rounds, but round four produced some real fireworks as both men looked to be going for a knockout in the center of the ring. Urango got in some solid blows, though Berto’s quicker hands carried the day and won him an exciting round.
The most interesting thing to happen in the fifth round occurred when a portion of the crowd began to chant, “Urango” while the otherwise pro-Berto crowd inserted a joint “Boo” in between each chant. In the ring, Berto toyed with Urango by-and-large, but he was fighting so anxiously – holding often, flinging wild, out of position shots and fleeing every time Urango threw – that he wasn’t landing enough meaningful punches to outclass Urango as bad as he should have been at that point.
After doing so much moving over the next two rounds, Berto held Urango for a ridiculous 20-second clinch in round eight. Referee Tommy Kimmons had urged Berto several times throughout the fight to reduce the amount of holding he was doing, but Berto denied that he was the one responsible, even though it was blatantly obvious it was part of his game plan. A fifteen-second clinch from Berto followed shortly thereafter as it appeared he might finally be running out of steam. And Urango still couldn’t find the punches to win a round.
After Berto spent most of the ninth round running away and holding, Kimmons came to his corner and warned him that he was close to taking a point away for holding. But Berto was so in a groove by that point that he obviously wasn’t worried about losing on the cards. Having bagged nine of the previous ten rounds, Berto twice stopped to shout at HBO commentator Max Kellerman at ringside during the eleventh round, though his intentions for doing so were unclear.
Needing a knockout to win, Urango finally let his hands go and won the twelfth as Berto spent most of the round holding, shouting at the crowd and absorbing body punches. It was the only round Urango clearly won, though he may have edged the ninth as well, preventing Berto from a complete shutout, as much as it felt like one.
The judges saw Urango winning a few rounds, with scores of 118-110 twice and 117-111, making Berto the obvious unanimous decision winner. For his part, Urango looked thankful for the payday and carefree about being outclassed.
After the fight, Berto, hopefully unintentionally, downplayed his victory to an HBO camera by suggesting Urango go back down to 140 pounds since welterweight hosted much better fighters. Urango likely will do just that. He has plenty of options at 140 since he would make for an exciting bout for most fighters there. A fight that is long overdue in that division is one between Urango and fellow Colombian slugger Ricardo Torres. Any network should be willing to pick that up as an appetizing undercard if not a main event.
Competing in the best division in boxing, Berto has no excuse for making fights against junior welterweights. His promoter Lou DiBella claims Berto is ready for the big fights, but Berto hasn’t exactly created a demand to see those bouts materialize, coming off a controversial decision over Luis Collazo and doing exactly what he was expected to do against Urango. If Berto can’t land a fight with Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto or Joshua Clottey, then he’s not out of options. Many felt Collazo beat Berto back in January, so Berto should fight that rematch at some point, but he doesn’t need to be fighting junior welterweights or mandatory opponents who have no business being in the ring with him. He’s been a champion for a year now. It’s time to act like it by fighting championship caliber opponents.