By Jake Donovan
The in-ring rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico is one of the fiercest in the recent history of the sport. Some legendary battles have come from the series, and is often used as a key selling point whenever a fight surfaces featuring such nationalities.
Among the more significant in queue is the December 3 rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Even Spanish station Telemundo is marketing a December 9 showdown between faded ex-champions Alex ‘Nene’ Sanchez and Eric Ortiz as an extension of the rivalry.
One fight were you can expect to not see excessive flag waving is this weekend’s showdown on HBO between rising Mexican star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Puerto Rican-born Kermit Cintron, which takes place in Mexico City.
Both fighters acknowledge the history of the rivalry and wear their respective nation’s colors with pride. As far as Saturday goes, though, the motivation of beating the guy in from them is enough.
“Of course (the rivalry) always motivates me. There are a lot of great champions from both sides through the years,” Alvarez (38-0-1, 28KO) admits, though with a twist. “But I’m motivated because I’m fighting a very good fighter. He’s a good fighter with a lot of experience.
“The level of competition is what motivates me.”
The same can be said of Cintron (33-4-1, 28KO), who is a bit preoccupied with trying to salvage his career. The former welterweight titlist went nearly two years without a win before getting past Antwone Smith this past August. Cintron accepted the summer bout primarily to remove the bad taste in his mouth left behind in an upset loss to Carlos Molina one month prior.
Three of four career losses for Cintron have come against Mexican fighters, including a pair of knockouts at the hands (some argue illegally wrapped hands) of Antonio Margarito.
On the other side of the rivalry, Cintron has also posted several highlight reel knockouts against Mexican and Mexican-American fighters, as well as a career-best victory over Alfredo Angulo, scoring a unanimous decision to beat the then-undefeated junior middleweight contender in May ’09.
As far as Saturday night goes, it’s just another big fight for Cintron, who expects a big night for both sides of the rivalry.
“I came here well prepared for whatever he brings. It’s going to be a great night for Mexico, for Puerto Rico and all of the fans out there.”
The fans will undoubtedly root for Mexico to continue its recent dominance. Cintron hopes to turn that around, although a win in and of itself would mean more than scoring one for La Bandera. After all, it’s not like very many Boricuas will be accompanying him in Mexico City for Saturday’s fight.
“I’m going to be fighting in his hometown. I’m motivated to go to his grounds and take his world title. I’m not worried. I know there will be neutral judges. I’m not worried about anything unfair.”
Once the bell rings, neither fighter will be worried about anything other than outlasting his opponent.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]