The Glassjaw Chronicles: Cintron dangerous

The Glassjaw Chronicles: Cintron dangerous
By Thomas Gerbasi/
November 20, 2007

For most world champions, being in the position where you’re one win away from getting into big money fights but are still forced to take on one more bout against an opponent you should beat isn’t the greatest situation. You could get cut, you could break a hand, you could look lackluster in victory, or maybe even lose.

It’s the ultimate in ‘no win’ situations, but when IBF welterweight champion Kermit Cintron steps through the ropes at the STAPLES Center this Friday night to defend his crown against Jesse Feliciano, he insists there is no chance of him looking past his opponent towards the likes of fellow 147-pound titlists Paul Williams, Miguel Cotto, or Floyd Mayweather.

“This is definitely an important fight that I’ve got to be focused for,” said Cintron (28-1, 26 KOs), who will be making the second defense of the crown he won by stopping Mark Suarez in six rounds in October of 2006. “You never know what can happen in a fight, so you can never look ahead because that’s when the problems come. Look at when Paul Williams fought (former WBO champion Antonio) Margarito. Margarito was looking ahead to the Cotto fight and he lost. You can’t be doing that, and it’s something I never do. From being in training camps with great fighters like Bernard Hopkins, I’ve learned that you can never look ahead. You have to be focused and ready only on the fight that’s coming up.”

It’s a lesson some fighters have to learn the hard way, but Cintron, who was stopped in five rounds by the aforementioned Margarito in his first world title fight in April of 2005, has treated every fight since then like it’s his last. And frankly, each one of them could have been, because after the loss to Margarito, Cintron was viewed by many as damaged goods, with the talent, but not the intangibles, to be an elite fighter. So one more loss could have been disastrous. The Reading, PA native wasn’t about to give up on his dream though, and after cleaning house of his former team, he moved forward.

“I just had to move on to the better things in life,” he said. “I got rid of any negatives around me, including my old trainers. I had to get with a trainer that could take me to the next level. I needed someone to polish me more so I would be able to stay on a certain level and win world titles. That’s when I talked to Emanuel (Steward). I thought he was the perfect trainer for me.”

He has been so far, with the Kronk master leading Cintron to wins over David Estrada, Suarez, and most recently, Walter Matthysse. And while Steward has a mastery over the X’s and O’s of the fight game as well as anybody, what he really brings to the table is the ability to motivate and give a fighter his confidence back. That was the key ingredient missing in Cintron’s loss to Margarito. When he slammed his patented right hand into the Mexican’s grill, Margarito laughed at him. Right then, the confidence drained from Cintron and he went into a shell. Sure, he tried to fight back, but when Plan A didn’t work, there wasn’t a Plan B to bail him out. Cintron was devastated by the loss, but he was determined to get back. The only question was how long would it take.

“At the time, with the emotions running through me, I would have definitely said that I would have come back and won a title, but I wouldn’t have known when it was gonna happen,” said Cintron when asked if he knew his return to the top would be as quick as it has been. “I had just lost a big opportunity to become a world champion. I blew it, and the next day, people started talking a lot – the media and people in general. But I said, ‘you know what, screw this, I’m gonna get back, train harder, and prove people wrong.’ I’m not the type of person that quits; my trainer at the time was the one who stopped the fight (against Margarito). I kept getting up and kept trying to fight.”

And while some might say Cintron didn’t do the right thing by Kauffman by dumping him from the corner, in the Puerto Rico native’s mind, he needed to start fresh, and the last two years have proven that making that new start has been a wise decision.

“I train twice as hard, I’m more focused and there are no negatives around me,” said Cintron. “Everything I do with family and friends, it’s positive, and I have no worries going into fights.”

But he will make sure that he watches out for what the 15-5-3 (9 KOs) Feliciano brings to the table this Friday.

“He’s got a big win against Delvin Rodriguez and he’s the type of fighter that tries to win fights and doesn’t show up just to survive,” said Cintron of his challenger. “Not every fighter with his record has the opportunity to fight for a world title, and that’s what makes him dangerous.”

That’s also what makes Cintron cognizant of the risks involved in a fight like this. Sure, Feliciano doesn’t have a great record and he’s been stopped by Demetrius Hopkins, Mike Arnaoutis, and Mohammad Abdullaev (junior welterweights who don’t have the power Cintron does), but when a title is on the line and with the Los Angeles native motivated by fighting in his hometown, and by winning the fight for his son - who died tragically shortly after birth on June 11th – funny things can happen in the fight game.

“The guys fighting for a title are hungrier,” said Cintron. “Myself, I was so motivated and ready to go when I fought Margarito that I was heartbroken when I didn’t win, and that’s when the emotions came out – that’s how bad I wanted the title. Every fighter, that’s their dream – to become a world champion – and when you have a title and you’re defending it, the fighters are hungrier to take it away from you and it’s why you have to train twice as hard.”

Cintron is human though, so he will admit to keeping an eye on his fellow titlists, but he’s not counting his big paydays until they happen.

“If you want to unify the titles, you’ve got to beat the other champions, so Paul Williams is definitely on my radar, as well as Cotto and Mayweather are,” he said. “But who knows if those fights will eventually come off. There are politics in the game, and they can always go in a different direction. So I just have to keep winning and keep defending my title successfully.”

That’s the goal for Friday night, and the only goal at this point for Kermit Cintron. As for those who doubted that he would every return to this position, he’ll keep his feelings where no one can see them.

“I keep them to myself because I know I can prove people wrong,” he chuckles when asked if he ever wanted to shout ‘I told you so’ to critics. “I’m not gonna bring it out because I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. But silently, I’ll prove everybody wrong.”

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    Updated on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 12:30 pm, EST

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