Kermit Cintron Comfortable With Steward And The Kronk

24.10.07 - By Matthew Hurley: Over the years boxing trainer Emanuel Steward has become something of a fix-it man for damaged fighters. The trend started back in the mid to late 1990s when Manny jumped from camp to camp, bringing his offensive minded approach to such fighters as Julio Cesar Chavez, Evander Holyfield and Oscar De La Hoya. In the end he found Lennox Lewis and stuck by the big man after switching camps from one time Lewis conqueror Oliver McCall to head trainer for Lennox in their rematch. His latest reclamation project has been Kermit Cintron, and so far the results have been impressive..

It was April 23rd of 2005 when a streaking Cintron ran into Antonio Margarito for the World Boxing Organization welterweight title. There were many who felt that Cintron would be too strong for Margarito, “The Tijuana Tornado” not yet enjoying the accolades of a somewhat skeptical media and boxing public.

After five one-sided rounds Margarito left no doubt who the superior fighter was and a devastated Cintron could barely hold back the tears as his career all but shattered when he hit the canvas four times. That blatant emotion led many to believe that the fighter was mentally broken.

“People just figured I was done,” he said recently. “It’s as easy to pile on criticism as it is to pile on praise. But you got a lot of people criticizing who’ve never been in the ring before. I ignored it. I ignored the insults on the internet. I just moved on.”

He moved on into the embrace of Steward who tightened up his defense without sacrificing his explosive offensive arsenal. He also provided the stern but protective care to a fighter who desperately needed to refocus and put a devastating loss behind him. In an age where one loss can ruin a career in the eyes of many Steward is of the old school approach that a loss can serve as a learning experience. The trainer has been there before with some of the greatest fighters of the last twenty-five years. He knows how much a fighter’s mentality will dictate whether or not he can recover from a defeat.

There were also mitigating circumstances surrounding the Margarito fight, but then there always seems to be a watershed of excuses from every athlete, particularly fighters, when they’ve had their head handed back to them on a platter. In Cintron’s case he was coming off a nine month layoff due to an injured right hand. He had surgery to repair a damaged ligament in his middle knuckle. The surgery turned out to be the result of a misdiagnosis. The problem was a lack of blood flow so the fighter went through arthroscopic surgery in January of 2005. It was then that the Margarito fight was proposed and Cintron and his camp decided to go through with the fight. Whether it was ego or just the excitement of fighting for a championship or that his management team pushed him into the bout the ending result left Kermit dazed and confused but not so much that he didn’t get rid of his team, including managers Marshall Kauffman and Joe Pastore, in the aftermath and then sought out Steward.

According to Emanuel, Cintron had no chance in the fight. “I knew he would lose because I was aware of what was going on. He simply couldn’t win that fight with the lack of preparation and the hand problems.”

The rebuilding of Kermit Cintron began at a brisk pace. He stopped Fancisco Parra in three rounds, David Estrada in ten, won the vacant IBF welterweight crown with a sixth round TKO over Mark Suarez and then delivered a devastating knockout in the second round against tough Walter Matthysse.

From nearly every vantage point Cintron seems to be a much better fighter than he was before the Margarito debacle. In the interim Margarito has since lost a close, disputed decision to the mammoth Paul Williams and is seeking a rematch with him. Cintron, who is scheduled to face Jesse Feliciano at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on November 23rd, wants another crack at the man who altered his fistic career.

“Everything is positive now,” he says with a smile. “I know that I’m a better fighter than I was on that night (against Margarito). There’s nothing negative going on. I would love to fight Margarito again. I’m a better fighter.”

Cintron’s interest in dabbling in the UFC notwithstanding, his focus now seems to be on unifying the welterweight title. The picture will become clearer after the Shane Mosley – Miguel Cotto fight on November 10th, under which Margarito will face Golden Johnson. The difficult period he went through before and immediately after the Margarito fight has centered the fighter. He has a comfortable home base inside the Kronk boxing team, a new father figure/trainer in Emanuel Steward and a new wife. The only thing that could upset this apparent bliss would be a straight right hand from Antonio Margarito. Once that punch lands and Cintron absorbs it and realizes that “this is it”, then we’ll know if he’s truly recovered from that miserable night in 2005

Article posted on 25.10.2007

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