By Jake Donovan
If you ask Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, his upcoming title defense against Kermit Cintron this weekend marks the toughest fight of his young career.
Whereas Alvarez and his handlers see a potential threat, more than a few people in the industry see an opponent that was carefully chosen based on his name value and recent fall from grace.
When questioned on the subject, all parties – including Cintron (33-4-1, 28KO) – immediately shot down the latter suggestion, pointing to the Puerto Rican’s overall body of work rather than just his recent struggles.
“We picked (Cintron) because he’s the next step in Canelo’s development,” stated Eric Gomez, Golden Boy Promotions Vice President and matchmaker. “Kermit Cintron is a legitimate top fighter. He deserves to be on this stage.”
The fight will mark Alvarez’ fifth ring appearance in a span of just 51 weeks, a remarkable stretch for any fighter at the sport’s top level these days.
Coming off of a sixth round knockout of Alfonso Gomez this past September, Alvarez was determined to squeeze in one more fight before the end of the year. With no more dates available in December, Golden Boy Promotions worked out details with HBO to schedule a split site doubleheader on Thanksgiving weekend.
Alvarez was grateful to secure the date, and pleasantly surprised that a fighter of Cintron’s ilk was chosen as his opponent. As far as the unbeaten Mexican is concerned, Saturday marks an upgrade from his last fight, one where he struggled early before rallying to stop Gomez on his feet.
“I didn’t execute my game plan against Gomez, but I was comfortable. I felt good and I got the job done,” Alvarez (38-0-1, 28KO) says in true ‘win today, look good the next time’ spirit. “But as far as Kermit goes, he’s a better fighter. He’s on a higher level than Gomez.”
Once upon a time, there wasn’t a soul in the world who could argue that claim. There’s a little more room today for debate, given Cintron’s struggles. He enters this weekend on the strength of a points win over Antwone Smith, but one that marked his first win in nearly two years.
Sandwiched in between were a controversial technical decision loss against former two-division titlist Paul Williams and an upset suffered at the hands of “King” Carlos Molina this past July. This is where most believe their case is made in suggestion this weekend is more showcase than showdown.
Cintron respectfully disagrees, though honestly doesn’t put much stock into what others are thinking.
“I don’t see it that way. I’ve had my ups and downs but it doesn’t mean that I’m a shot fighter or that I suck. I’ve had bad nights and good fights. If that’s how they want to take me, it’s a big mistake on their part. I’m well prepared to take his championship.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]