Ex-champ Cintron still longing for spotlight return

By Lyle Fitzsimmons | CBSSports.com

For every Mayweather, Canelo and Hopkins, there's a Kermit Cintron.

He's 34 years old. He's been a professional for nearly half his life. And as he sits and watches other fighters getting big fights on major stages -- some of whom he's either beaten in the ring, or at least compares to when it comes to career achievements -- he shows that he's human, too.

In other words, he gets aggravated.

“Yes, it does frustrate me. Let's just say that I accomplished more than a lot of fighters out there,” he said. “I get respect from true fans and no respect from the media. I feel like I'm always getting underpaid. The most underpaid champion, that's me.”

Cintron was born in Puerto Rico before relocating full time to the United States following the deaths of his parents. He attended high school and college in southeastern Pennsylvania, and spent less than two years as an amateur boxer before getting his first pro paycheck in October 2000.

He won 24 straight fights -- including 22 by knockout -- before being stopped by Antonio Margarito in a bid for the World Boxing Organization's welterweight championship in 2005. He won the International Boxing Federation's version of the title a year later and successfully defended it twice before losing to Margarito once again in 2008.

It's been a series of ups and downs since then for Cintron, who most notably fought to a draw with Sergio Martinez, now the WBC's champion at 160 pounds, in February 2009; and returned three months later for a one-sided win over previously unbeaten 154-pound contender Alfredo Angulo.

Martinez will fight in an HBO pay-per-view event on June 7 at Madison Square Garden, while Angulo shared the marquee with Canelo Alvarez for a Showtime PPV event earlier this month in Las Vegas -- a match for which he was paid $750,000, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Angulo's purse against Alvarez was multiple times past what Cintron took home after a loss to Alvarez in 2011 in Mexico City. And neither the hoopla nor the compensation that followed Philadelphia-born 140-pound champion Danny Garcia to Puerto Rico for a title defense last Saturday were in attendance when Cintron beat Ronald Cruz on the same night -- in Bethlehem, Pa.

Garcia's fight was a Showtime main event in a 12,000-seat basketball arena. Cintron's fight, which was not televised, was in the events center of a casino 60 miles north of downtown Philadelphia.

Still, the Cruz win stretched a modest unbeaten streak to three -- two wins and a draw -- since the Alvarez fight and subsequent 16-month hiatus. And it's the lingering hope for another big fight that keeps Cintron, now a married father of three, hanging around a sport he discovered as a teen.

“I love this sport and that's why I'm still in it,” he said.

“I enjoy it more now because I have a great team behind me that cares for me and my career. I believe that as long as I'm doing my job, which is win, I can land a big fight. Champions lose and they come back. I believe that I will get big fights again.”

And lest he be lumped in with 30-something athletes who squandered resources thanks to dubious personal and business conduct and then turned bitter toward the activities that made them famous, Cintron is quick to point out how that label doesn't apply to him.

He and his wife share ownership of a fledging yoga studio with another couple in Bethlehem. He's anticipating pursuit of certification from the National Personal Training Institute in Philadelphia. And rather than following the troublesome extracurricular paths blazed by others, he content to spend the majority of his down time as a perfectly happy homebody.

“I live a clean life. I take care of myself,” he said. “When I'm home, it's pretty much 24/7 with the kids and the wife. When there's no school or work, it's all about the family spending the time together. I enjoy being around my kids and my wife.”

Weekend Watch List, 3/21-22

ESPN2 -- Friday, 9 p.m.

Vanes Martirosyan vs. Mario Lozano -- 10 rounds, junior middleweights

Anthony Peterson vs. Marcos Jimenez -- 10 rounds, lightweights

Telemundo -- Friday, 11:35 p.m.

Matthew Villanueva vs. David Carmona -- 12 rounds, junior bantamweights

DirecTV PPV -- Saturday, 9 p.m.

Jose Pedraza vs. Alberto Garza -- IBO super featherweight title

UniMas -- Saturday, 11 p.m.

Jorge Melendez vs. Richard Gutierrez --10 rounds, junior middleweights

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