If Kermit Cintron is the 'A' grade fighter he presumably thinks he is, one would think he'd have his way with Antwone Smith, a solid 'B' fighter who has never stepped up into the 'A' arena. But each round of their ten round scrap in the main event of ESPN's Friday Night Fights, which unfolded at the Ameristar Casino in Saint Charles, Missouri, was tight. Cintron and Smith looked to be of the same caliber, with neither man able to step on the gas, and pull away from his opponent. It was left to the judges to determine the winner after a busy but not particularly dramatic scrap.
They scored it 98-92, 97-93, 96-94, for Cintron.
It will be left to Cintron, and his team, to determine how much he has left, if he truly is an 'A' guy, or something has been lost, perhaps not to return.
I don't want to appear to come down too hard on Cintron, as Smith is by no means a pushover. But Kermit has been in with some of the best and brightest, and we have to go back to 2009 to find a time when he was clearly in that class, for a whole fight.
Cintron went 275-1143, so it can't be said he didn't work hard, while Smith went 270-711.
Bernard Hopkins scored it 96-94, for Cintron. I like the 98-92 card myself.
The 31-year-old Cintron, the Puerto Rican-Pennsylvanian, entered at 32-4-1and weighed 149 pounds, while the 24-year-old Smith entered at 20-2-1 and was 148 1/2 at the weigh-in. Cintron fought just last month, dropping a decision to Carlos Molina. He said that on the plane ride home, he determined he wanted to get back on the horse.
In the first round, Kerm dictated distance with his jab. He was busy, busy, busy, not like his showing against Molina. Smith barks when he throws, and analyst Bernard Hopkins noted that it would be smart to time the bark.
In the second, Smith had better luck closer in. Kerm dropped in a couple left hooks to the body, and used the right to the body as well.
In the third, the ex welter champ Cintron didn't look put off at all by the Floridian Smith's power. He worked mostly on the outside, and some inside, never looking worried that Smith could buzz him.
In the fourth, Kerm early on did well maintaining distance. He has a long jab, which he'd throw two, three times. Then he'd allow Smith to get inside, where the underdog scored well with a left to the body. One didn't get the sense, through five, that either man who be able to hurt the other.
In the sixth, Cintron, who has a 5-11 to 5-7 edge in height, again was OK with working inside. Smith's power, or lack thereof, didn't force him to employ what maybe was his most effective strategy, which was staying outside, working behind the jab. Punches from both men were landing a bit cleaner, so it felt like it would come down in a large part to stamina.
In the seventh, we saw another close round. Neither man took over for anything longer than a two second stretch.
In the eighth, Kerm got himself some space, and did some of his very best work. He smothered his leverage in close, but yet didn't pick up on that, and change his ways. In round nine, both men stayed active, neither lagged in energy. Trainer Ronnie Shields told Cintron he wanted a busy round. In the tenth, the same pace was set. Smith, actually, added a couple extra combos. Cintron was cut over his right eye late in the round, which Smith probably took. We'd go to the cards.
SPEEDBAG St. Louis native Devon Alexander watched from ringside. He's free from Don King, entertaining offers from promoters and pondering a move to 147.