This, as they say, is why they fight the fights. Kermit Cintron upset Alfredo Angulo in a junior middleweight bout Saturday night on HBO where more than a few people thought it was glaringly obvious Cintron was going to get curbstomped, and he did it without much trouble at all, looking good along the way. I didn’t think a Cintron loss was a glaringly obvious conclusion, but I didn’t think Cintron would so completely outbox Angulo, who looked fairly clueless about what to do with Cintron’s control of distance, since I’d been thinking a Cintron knockout was the only way he won. Instead, he pulled out a unanimous decision and showed the composure that too often has been the missing piece to Cintron being a fighter who could be taken seriously on the world class level. Cintron is back. Angulo, meanwhile takes a step back in his bid to become the next Mexican superstar.
In the main event, welterweight Andre Berto did his own outboxing number. Considering how basic his opponent, Juan Urango, is, that was very foreseeable. The only question was whether the central element that makes Urango a dangerous fighter, his power, would catch Berto unawares at any moment in the evening. But Berto, prone to defensive lapses, made none whatsoever Saturday night, and the result was a pretty comprehensive victory. Criticize Berto if you want for not knocking out Urango, criticize him for holding too much, but I’m pretty sure that because Urango’s chin is so considerable that it allows him to just keep charging in fearlessly, it’s nearly impossible to beat Urango without at least some clinching, especially since he doesn’t know what to do during a clinch. Berto’s performance wasn’t especially fan-friendly, but it was about as good as could be expected under the circumstances, and he once again showed improvement in its execution.
KERMIT CINTRON – ALFREDO ANGULO
I scored the bout exactly as all three judges did: 116-112. Two of the rounds I gave Angulo, the 2nd and the 8th, were close, and could have gone either way. The 5th and 7th, which I gave Cintron, also were close. But really, any score where Cintron didn’t win would have been a huge mistake, and I could see someone scoring the fight even more in Cintron’s favor than I did.
Cintron’s superior height and reach was telling, and it was the foundation of his outboxing. Cintron hasn’t always worked his jab the way he should, but he stuck it in Angulo’s face over and over and over and over and over and over again. It was a good, sharp jab, too. It helped him set up his big right hand, and once he established that, his left hook. Angulo rarely got close enough to do his inside damage, either because the jab was in his grill or because Cintron was making him pay with power punches when he got past that. In the 4th, he had Angulo hurt, too.
As good as Cintron’s boxing was, it’s not as if he’s a master technician. Angulo made him look better. Angulo has a decent offensive arsenal, but he’s not what anyone would call a boxer nor is he anything like fast, and it’s clear he’s over-reliant on pure pressure to do his thing. Furthermore, he’s no good at all on the defensive end, so Cintron could hit him pretty much at will. It’s not that Angulo didn’t get any work done, and in the 11th and 12th, he started doing what I thought he would earlier, which is force his way inside at all costs. Maybe if he’d managed to do that prior to the final two rounds, he could have made Cintron wilt as he has before. But even with Angulo getting inside Cintron’s personal space late, Cintron kept his head about him. HBO’s broadcast team said Angulo was under the weather at some point during training, so maybe it took him so long to get on track for that reason. It’s possible he just had an off night.
But Angulo still needs to work on his game. He’s looked awesome against extremely basic and/or overmatched opponents, but against his best opponent to date, his limitations — an underabundance of skill and speed — really were thrown into relief. I’m open to the possibility that he can improve and overcome at least some of his flaws. At worst, though, the ceiling on his career is as an entertaining TV fighter against similarly limited opposition.
Cintron deserves huge credit for beating Angulo, though. There were a few knowledgeable fans who predicted a Cintron win — a number of the people on this site, in fact — but the majority dismissed Cintron like he wasn’t even going to be in the fight at all. He proved ’em wrong. For one night, at least, he kept it together against a top opponent and came out on top. He becomes the mandatory challenger to Sergio Martinez, against whom he received a gift draw earlier this year. I don’t know if anyone would like to watch that rematch, which was a tad on the ugly side, but from the standpoint of the appropriate challenge for his next fight, it makes sense. I’d rather see him move back to welterweight where his power is more impressive. Actually, the fight I’d most like to see him in is against the winner of Saturday’s main event.
ANDRE BERTO – JUAN URANGO
Berto’s decision was a little more definitive, winning by 117-111 and 118-110 twice; I also had it 118-110. I could also see this one being a little closer. I gave Urango the 8th and 10th, where Urango was landing good body punches on the inside, but I could see giving Urango the last couple rounds, too.
That’s neither here nor there. Berto was too fast for Urango. He was also more versatile. I like that Urango’s done so much with so little, but it really is very little. If he can’t unhinge wild power shots, he can’t do anything. Berto circled away from those shots, landed his jab and occasional power shot, particularly his uppercut, then tied up when Urango got too close. And while the power shots were solitary more than Berto’s usual power combinations, he was remarkably efficient with them, landing 66 percent.
Berto beat Urango in a more impressive fashion than did Ricky Hatton, which says something. But it’s hard for me to see how one can beat Urango and look pretty doing it. He’s a big junior welterweight who moved up to welterweight for the night, but nothing Berto hit him with seemed to put Urango anywhere near a knockout. Usually, when an unskilled brawler charges in, he can be made to pay, and often stops charging in, or at least shows a little more caution in doing so. Not the case with Urango, who can really take a shot. You can’t just skip away from him all night long, nor is standing and trading wise. So some combination of landing flurries, lateral movement and holding is the trick. It’s a good trick. Twice now, Urango has lost to someone who did that, his only two losses. But as mentioned, it’s not the prettiest trick. The crowd booed a little late in the fight before Berto decided to trade some, selectively.
Urango, though, can move back to junior welter and defend the title belt he owns there. Anyone who doesn’t have pretty good boxing skill or a nice chin is going to catch hell from Urango. His mandatory title challenger is Randall Bailey, and that’s a very interesting fight. If anyone, Bailey might have the kind of power to dissuade Urango, but he has only decent boxing skill, and can be hurt himself. If that fight isn’t televised by someone when it happens, it’ll be a real shame. It should be a power-punching exhibition.
Berto keeps showing new dimensions, and I like it. In his last fight, he demonstrated heart and guts against Luis Collazo, but he got a little carried away and didn’t always box like he should’ve and spent too much time trading. This time, he knew what he was supposed to do and did it, for which he is to be commended. I still don’t think he’s ready for a Shane Mosley or Miguel Cotto, but every time he beats a quality opponent and improves in the process, I become more convinced. The fight I’d most like to see him in is against Collazo in a rematch, but failing that, another second-tier welter, like Cintron or Carlos Quintana, sounds about right. He’s a nice talent with a good head on his shoulders. I’m a fan, but still a little bit of a skeptic of how far he can go, albeit less skeptical all the time.