By Jake Donovan
One day, Jeyvier Cintron can look back at the near-disastrous turn in his first fight with Koki Eto as a blessing in disguise.
The two-time Olympian from Puerto Rico certainly fought like a boxer determined to make the most of a second chance, dominating Japan’s Eto in earning a landslide decision win in their rematch Friday evening at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla.
Scores were 99-90 across the board in favor of Cintron in their Telemundo-televised super flyweight title eliminator.
The second meeting between the two came just 10 weeks after their brief first encounter, taking place at this very venue and which produced plenty of controversy in less than three minutes of ring action. Eto was initially awarded with a 1st round knockout win, when it was believed that a right hand shot put Cintron down and eventually for the count.
Cintron protested literally every second of the sequence and deep into the aftermath, insisting his trip to the canvas was the result of a headbutt. Replays confirmed his claim, with the Florida commission and the World Boxing Organization (WBO)—the latter whose regional title was at stake—agreed to change the bout to a No-Contest.
The WBO ordered a rematch between the two, this time with the stakes raised. The same regional belt was on the line, along with the winner to be named as mandatory challenger for recently crowned and legendary four-division titlist Kazuto Ioka.
It was all Cintron this time around, putting his superior boxing skills to good use versus Eto, a former interim flyweight titlist and super flyweight title challenger, fighting for the second straight time in the U.S. and just the third time overall outside of Asia. Eto hoped to have finished what he started in late May, but never had a chance to get his offense untracked.
Cintron also showed power in his game, despite his modest knockout to win ratio. The unbeaten contender scored the bout’s lone knockdown, flooring Eto barely 20 seconds into the second round. It was a pivotal moment in the bout, as Eto (24-5-1, 19KOs) spent the rest of the night playing catchup and never managing to swing momentum in his favor.
While his hand being raised by night’s end was a mere formality, the win itself lends credence to the old adage that timing is everything. There was a misconception heading into the first fight that the winner was going to be named the WBO mandatory contender.
Had Cintron prevailed that night, the road to contention would have still required at least one more stop. Had the original verdict been upheld, he wouldn’t even be in the current discussion at all.
Making the most of a second chance at a lasting impression, he’s now in line to land a crack at a potential future Hall of Famer.
“We are thrilled because the win puts me one step closer to my dream of being a world champion,” stated Cintron (11-0, 5KOs). “In the biggest fight of my career, I defeated an experienced rival like Eto and we brought this victory to Puerto Rico, as we expected.”
Given the history of such fights on the Telemundo series—especially in the super flyweight division—there is plenty of cause for optimism.
“So many great 115-pound fighters have won big fights on (Telemundo) and went on to fighting for the world championship,” Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala Jr. pointed out to BoxingScene.com. “Jeyvier Cintron came into this fight with a lot to prove and really backed up everything he said he was going to do.
“It was our honor to present the bout on our show along with (Cintron’s co-promoters) Top Rank and Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions (PRBPP). Jeyvier Cintron has a bright future ahead, hopefully for his sake one that includes a title shot versus Kazuto Ioka next.”
Friday’s card was headlined by another unbeaten Boricua, as Puerto Rico’s Yomar Alamo preserved his perfect record with a 10-round decision win over Mexico’s Salvador Briceno.
Scores were 98-92 (twice) and a surprisingly close 96-94 in favor of Alamo, who was given a stiff test but was the clear winner in their super lightweight clash.
Briceño (15-5, 9KOs) took the fight as a late replacement for countryman Miguel Angel Martinez, who was pulled from the show in order to salvage last Friday’s Telemundo headliner. Martinez came to the rescue after Edson Ramirez showed up a full division above the welterweight limit for a scheduled 10-round clash with Mauricio Pintor.
As all of that unfolded, Briceño didn’t hesitate to seize the short-notice opportunity to headline the Telemundo summer season finale. Whereas Martinez was drilled in two rounds for his efforts as last week’s emergency replacement, a much better effort was put forth by Briceño, who just eight weeks ago gave unbeaten Gabriel Flores all that he could handle.
Alamo was game for the challenge, even as it forced him to go the distance for the second straight time. The hard-hitting 140-pound prospect had scored five straight prior to settling for a 10-round shutout win over Manuel Mendez at this very location in the 2019 Telemundo spring season premiere this past February.
Friday’s bout saw him work even harder to remain perfect through more than six years as a pro, improving to 17-0 (12KOs) with the win. There stands a good chance he will be featured in the Telemundo fall season, which returns to this part of town on October 4 and occupies every Friday in October.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox