In the HBO Boxing After Dark show opener on Saturday night, 29-year-old Kermit Cintron met 26-year-old Alfredo “Perro” Angulo in a meaningful 154 pound clash. The winner would be in line for a quick title crack, while the loser would need to make up some ground in the ranking department.

Angulo, it turns out, saw a doctor right before the fight, as he was feeling under the weather, but he decided to go through with the bout despite his status.

After 12 rounds at the Seminole Hard Casino in Hollywood, Florida, in which Cintron boxed with grace and wisdom and superior concentration, the judges gave the ex welterweight champion the nod, by scores of 116-112, times three.

Harold Lederman of HBO saw it 115-113, Cintron.

TSS had Cintron up, you guessed it, 116-112.

The stats said that the Puerto Rican-born Pennyslvanian Cintron (31-2-1; weighed 153 Friday) carried the day; he enjoyed an edge in punches landed (316-277) and thrown (1094 to 957).

End of the day, the Mexican native Angulo (15-1; weighed 153 1/2 Friday, had difficulty getting to 154 limit) came off as a bit too mechanical, without possessing the sort of power that could break a top level foe down late in the game. Hats off to him for taking on a stiff test after just 15 pro bouts—no shame in his game in the least. Cintron said after that this effort was “the best performance to date in my career.” He said trainer Ronnie Shields put him through hell for eight weeks, and the training did wonders. Next for Cintron? He’ll fight at 147, 154, wherever there are good fights, he said.

Cintron was looking to reverse the Margarito curse–both of his losses came against the Master of the Plaster Disaster—and he set things up with the jab in the first round. He looked relaxed and ready to rock. Angulo, looking to elevate himself from prospect to contender on this evening, did too, and he scored with some sharp counters in the last third of the round.

In the second, the forward moving Angulo showed some Margarito traits, as he pressed forward, eagerly, with the resolve of a hungry man at an all you can’t eat filet mignon buffet. Kermit slipped pretty well, but was he thinking, Lord, am I going to have to do this for the whole 12?

In the third, Cintron worked the jab, cross, hook and uppercut at times. Yes, he worked moving backwards a lot, and some judges aren’t keen on that…Kermit worked the body, and then came upstairs with a left hook that wowed the crowd.

In round four, Kermit hurt Angulo, who held on with 1:50 remaining; the thumper was an overhand right, a counter, which landed on Angulo’s chin.  A cut formed over Cintron’s left eye, but he rocked Angulo with a combo right after the slice opened. Cintron’s right hands were mostly thrown with ominous intent, and you had to give Angulo a check mark in the chin department after you saw what shots he was absorbing.

In the fifth, Angulo went lefty, trying to change the  momentum. Didn’t work. In round six, Kermit’s energy was ample, Angulo’s was less so. In the seventh, yes, Angulo came forward, but he didn’t do anything new to reverse the Cintron charge. In the eighth, Angulo had better luck, and Kermit had to hustle more to make him miss. Could Angulo pull off a late-inning game-shifter? His ninth was another solid span. In the tenth, Kermit’s cardio was tested, as Angulo stayed close, and tried to chip away. In the 11th, Kermit kept on with the jab to stop Angulo’s forward pressure, spun out when his man got close, hopped laterally to give himself some space—basically, he boxed smartly. In the 12th, Kermit didn’t run and refuse to gun; there were some trades, which I’m sure tortured his trainer, but Angulo couldn’t fire that miracle maker. He sure tried, and Kermit had to clinch a few times to get some extra oxygen. Kermit backed up and pumped the jab furiously to keep Angulo at bay.