by Fox Doucette
“Follow the money.” It’s a popular saying in politics, and it applies to boxing tonight, as Kermit Cintron (33-4, 28 KOs) got the benefit of some wider-than-they-should-have-
At least it wasn’t a complete travesty. Cintron came out early staying behind his jab and keeping Smith on the outside, and after four rounds it looked like the Puerto Rican fighter was going to cruise to an easy decision win. But from round five onward, Cintron let Smith work on the inside, where the underdog was able to land some very effective body and head shots alike. Except for an eighth-round exchange where Cintron looked like he had gained control and was set to go for the knockout, Smith carried those final rounds sufficiently to earn a draw on this writer’s scorecard, 95-95.
Bernard Hopkins, filling in for Teddy Atlas (who is in Russia training Alexander Povetkin) on the broadcast, had it 96-94, as did one of the judges. But the other two cards, 97-93 and 98-92, are respectively questionable and preposterous, and with Bob Arum having invested a lot of money in pumping up Cintron as a potential opponent for Manny Pacquiao, it bears asking whether this fight was held in Missouri because of that state’s very weak commission. Something is very, very fishy about this fight’s judging, but since Cintron did enough to at least make the case that he won the fight fair and square, nobody will look into it. “The right guy won” does not qualify as an excuse.
Speaking of Cintron, the CompuBox statistics claim he threw over 1100 punches in the ten rounds of this fight. But these were not the volume of quality punches of, say, Micky Ward-Emanuel Augustus in 2001 (a fight with similar punches thrown but vastly different results). These were light, soft, unconvincing taps more suited to an amateur fight. The one time Cintron really looked like he hurt Smith, he kept up the pressure for about five seconds then settled back into the ugly inside fight that would make this a candidate for Worst Fight of the Year but for that Joel Julio-Anges Adjaho snoozer earlier in the season.
The co-feature, which should win an award of its own for “you didn’t miss anything”, started out on ESPN3.com while a tennis match ran long on ESPN2. The TV broadcast joined in the third round, just in time for one hell of a spectacular one-punch knockout as Dannie Williams (19-1, 15 KOs) started with a jab to distract his opponent then followed with a crashing left hook that not only dropped Antonio Cervantes (16-6-5, 11 KOs) by itself but led to Cervantes hitting his head violently on the ring floor. Referee Steve Smoger wasted no time stopping the contest so that Cervantes could get the necessary medical attention and the Mexican appeared to be doing much better once he had a few minutes to recover. Knockouts can be thrilling, but sometimes you have to fear for the defeated fighter’s safety, and credit goes to Smoger for not waiting one second longer than he had to when he recognized the severity of the concussion that Antonio Cervantes sustained.
The sideshow may very well have been the best fight of the night. After the knockout in the co-feature, fans were treated to six rounds between local fighters Keandre Gibson (4-0-1, 2 KOs) and Lawrence Hughes (4-1, 3 KOs). Gibson is a cook at Olive Garden in his day job, and he brought the soup, the salad, and the breadsticks into the ring, dropping Hughes in the second and third rounds and nearly finishing him off in the sixth.
Hughes did have his moments, winning the first round in a feeling-out process and winning the fourth when Gibson appeared to have temporarily punched himself out going for the KO in rounds two and three, but at the end of the night the ringside judges had it 59-53, 60-52, and 60-51 (that last judge likely giving a 10-8 round in the sixth even without a knockdown). The Boxing Tribune had it 58-54, but any way you slice it this was a very nice win on national TV for a 21-year-old fighter. Someone get Gibson a sponsor; it would be interesting to see what he could do with a real trainer and good conditioning to give him the endurance to go rounds and the skill to finish a hurt opponent.
Next week marks the end of the 2011 Friday Night Fights season, and what a finale it will be. Demetrius Andrade (13-0, 9 KOs) takes on the first real challenge of his career against Grady Brewer (28-12, 16 KOs), while the co-feature pits former WBC lightweight champion David Diaz (36-3-1, 17 KOs) against the always entertaining Philadelphia-based fighter Hank Lundy (20-1-1, 10 KOs). The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap as always, and those of you who just can’t get enough boxing ESPN-style can read this week’s edition of The Southpaw for your friendly neighborhood commentator’s take on the matchup in the main event.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Stay tuned next week for his season-end awards column and recap of the year on FNF. Fan mail, hate mail, and offers by ESPN to join Brian Kenny in the studio can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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