By Jake Donovan
In what many – including the fighter himself - view as possibly his last chance at winning a major title, former welterweight champ Kermit Cintron heads to hostile territory when he faces 154 lb. titlist Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Mexico City this Saturday.
HBO will televise the bout, which serves as the main event of a split site doubleheader. The other leg of the show will feature unbeaten 130 lb. contender Adrien Broner taking on Vicente Rodriguez for a vacant belt in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Born in Puerto Rico, raised in Pennsylvania and now fighting out Houston, Texas, Cintron (33-4-1, 28KO) has never truly enjoyed a regional fan base over the course of his career, which has also endured multiple promotional changes.
Despite his status as a man without a country, he has found a way to rise to the top on multiple occasions while remaining in the good graces of HBO, the industry leader for boxing at the top level.
Cintron believes that his extensive pro experience is key in his matchup this weekend with the 21-year old Alvarez, who has fought most of his career out of his native Mexico and hasn’t been forced to contend with the trials and tribulations of the sport.
“I’ve been through my ups and downs. Canelo hasn’t had that experience,” Cintron explains. “I’ve always worked my way up. Canelo is a world champ for a reason. He’s a good fighter, strong and a lot of skills. I feel I’m a better fighter. I’m strong, I can punch and can box as well, and I’m coming to take the title.”
The fight marks his first title fight since conceding his welterweight belt to Antonio Margarito in April ’08. It was just Cintron’s second loss as a pro, both coming against Margarito while sporting an impressive 29-0 (27KO) mark against the rest of the sport.
That dynamic has dramatically changed in recent years, as he’s since struggled to a 4-2-1 mark, with just one knockout over that stretch.
A career turnaround seemed imminent after an upset points win against Alfredo Angulo in May ’09, but a controversial technical decision loss to Paul Williams a year later was as crushing as the events leading to the end were humiliating. Adding to the pot was a 14-month layoff followed by a shocking points loss at the hands of perennial gatekeeper Carlos Molina.
The loss – which aired live on Showtime – left most to write off the Puerto Rican as a finished fighter, but a points win over Antwone Smith just one month later was enough to keep his head above water.
Three months later, he now heads to Mexico to face a man many believe to be a future superstar in Alvarez, who is already a blockbuster attraction in his homeland. With that comes the suggestion that the deck is stacked against Cintron, but he only views the potential uphill climb as yet another chance at proving his detractors wrong.
“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. I just have to worry about what I need to do in the ring. I'm taking it one round at a time, and adjust to whatever I have to adjust to in order to win fight."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]