by David P. Greisman
BoxingScene.com: What was the game plan you and Kermit Cintron had trained for against Saul Alvarez?
Ronnie Shields: “The game plan was to jump right on top of him, not give him a chance to have any confidence, to just take his confidence right away from him. But Kermit came out and started boxing him. As the rounds were going by, I kept telling him, I said, ‘You’re giving him every opportunity to be confident,’ and that’s exactly what happened. Kermit finally started fighting back once he got hurt, but it was too late.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think Cintron did right? And what did he do wrong?
Shields: “He fought back when he got hurt. That’s what you’re supposed to do. But I wanted him to do that from the beginning, though, and not wait until you get hurt to say, ‘Okay, now I’m gonna start fighting back.’
“When that bell rang, my exact words to him were, ‘Kermit, when this guy comes out, he’s not going to come out and jump right on top of you. He wants to see what you got first.’ I said, ‘If this guy comes out and starts looking like he wants to box, you’ve got to jump right on top of him.’
“That’s what we’d been doing in the gym every day. We’ve been working on that every day. He just didn’t do it. But I’m proud of him, the way he fought back at the end. He was hurt, and he was fighting more on instinct than anything. That wasn’t the game plan.
“I just hope and pray that he’s okay. When he got hurt, he came back to the corner, I asked him if was he okay, and he said ‘Yes.’ Then I asked him ‘What city are you in?’ and he said ‘Mexico City.’ He didn’t hesitate. I said ‘Are you alright?’ He said ‘Yeah, I’m just in a hell of a fight.’ I knew he was good. I had to give him a chance because I know he can punch. It’s hard when you are hurt and trying to punch a cat back, because he knows you’re hurt.
“At the beginning, if Kermit just came out and jumped right on top of him, it would’ve been a different story. In the second round, Kermit hit him with a body shot and hurt him, and he told Kermit after the fight that he hurt him with a body shot in the second. And then when he had Kermit hurt in the fourth or fifth round, Kermit hit him with a good right hand and a good left hook, and he told Kermit he stunned him pretty good.”
BoxingScene.com: Cintron wasn’t committing to his power shots, but he also was throwing a lazy jab. That’s what led to the right hand from Alvarez that hurt him in the fourth.
Shields: “When he first came out, the kid wasn’t going to jump on top of him the first round. I said ‘He wants to see what you have. That’s going to be the opportunity to show him, look I have all this power and am going to use it against you.’
“But he came out, just throwing a lackluster jab. All camp we’ve been working on a power jab, on a stiff jab, making this guy feel the power in the jab, because Kermit has a really strong jab. And that was the plan — to make him feel his power early, to get the respect, make this kid respect him.
“But we never got to that point. The kid was never in a position to say, ‘Uh oh, now I got to back up from him.’ I think like the second or third round, I told Kermit he had to start backing this kid up, and he started doing it, but it just wasn’t enough. He wasn’t putting punches together. It was one shot at a time.
“I think with this kid, when you fight him, you’ve got to hit him multiple times and you have to do it early, because then he’ll start respecting people. I haven’t seen it yet. I watched the Alfonso Gomez fight a lot. I’d seen some of the things that Alfonso was doing that was really working for him. But in the end this kid caught him with a good hard punch, and Alfonso, he just didn’t take it well, which I think is going to be the case with a lot of people.”
BoxingScene.com: Did you have any problems with the stoppage?
Shields: “No. Not at all. I didn’t have any problems with the stoppage at all. He was definitely hurt. The referee gave us a fair shake. He gave us every chance in the world, and when you go into a fight, that’s all you ask, that you get a fair shake. I gotta say the referee did a great job.”
BoxingScene.com: What happens with Kermit now?
Shields: “I have no idea. We haven’t spoken about it yet. I’m going to have to sit down with his manager and see what’s what, see if we think he should just call it a career or what.
“Look, his last three fights, or more than that, the last four or five fights, when he went 1 and 4 [Cintron’s actually lost 3 of his last 6], that’s kind of hard. That’s a hard thing for a guy like Kermit Cintron, and for any fighter.
“Right now we have to start thinking about his livelihood and his family. The decision basically is going to be up to him. But I think we can make suggestions to him that maybe he should start thinking about doing something else.
“Kermit is a very good person, He’s a great family man. I know it’s going to come up real soon that we need to sit down with him and think about the future."
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]