Boxing

 
               === Saddened Cintron recalls days with Steward ===
 
 By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing Editor
 
 Cape Coral, FL (Sports Network) - Not everyone gets a legendary ending.
 
 Though he's been celebrated in recent days for work with Hall of Famers Thomas
 Hearns and Lennox Lewis -- not to mention a Canastota-bound talent in Wlad
 Klitschko -- not every fighter who made contact with Emanuel Steward will be
 as widely remembered as the Kronk-centric trainer.
 
 But that doesn't mean, amid the "he's dead/no he's not/yes he is" hand-
 wringing of the more-ethical-than-thou windbags last Thursday, that those
 lesser heralded didn't feel a profound loss.
 
 Just ask Kermit Cintron.
 
 "It was weird for me because I actually couldn't sleep (Wednesday) night, and
 when I woke up (Thursday) morning I thought about him," said the Reading, Pa.-
 based Cintron, who turned 33-years-old three days before Steward's death. "The
 first thing I looked at was one of the pics of Emanuel and I, and I said to
 myself that after my training session I would call him.
 
 "I was done training and went to my office and heard my phone blowing up with
 calls and texts and it was all about Emanuel passing away. I felt like a Mack
 truck just hit me."
 
 Cintron and Steward worked together for just five fights over a two-year
 stretch from 2006 to 2008, beginning with a 10th-round stoppage of
 welterweight gatekeeper David Estrada in Palm Beach, Fla., and ending with a
 sixth-round TKO loss to Antonio Margarito in Atlantic City, N.J.
 
 It was within that time period, however, that the Puerto Rican native won his
 lone world title -- the IBF welterweight championship -- and racked up most of
 the memories that came flooding back upon hearing of the Detroit icon's too-
 soon demise at age 68.
 
 "The best one was becoming IBF champ and being his first legit Puerto Rican
 champ," said Cintron, who stopped Mark Suarez for the vacant crown in his
 second fight with Steward.
 
 He defended the belt twice, including a devastating second-round blowout of
 Walter Matthysse that his temporary mentor remained proud of even after their
 working relationship ended.
 
 "I dropped him in the first round. In the corner, (Steward) told me to go in
 and jump on him right away because he was badly hurt," Cintron said. "I threw
 a nasty left uppercut and followed it with a hard right hand that put him out
 cold. Manny loved his knockouts, and that was one to remember."
 
 A handful of Cintron's camps with Steward led him to actually train in the
 oppressively hot basement gym where the Kronk brand was perfected. While
 there, he did in-ring work with several of Steward's other "name" clients,
 including Andy Lee and Jermain Taylor, Johnathon Banks and Klitschko.
 
 The severity of the trainer's health issues became widespread when it was
 announced that Banks, a former cruiserweight belt-holder now campaigning as a
 heavyweight, would be in Klitschko's corner for the Ukrainian's four-belt
 heavyweight defense against unbeaten Pole Mariusz Wach on Nov. 10.
 
 "He treated every fighter he had equally," Cintron said. "It was a family
 atmosphere. We all helped each other. I loved the Kronk gym. I wouldn't call
 it a sauna. It was more like an oven. It was a pure hardcore gym where you
 could feel the energy of that championship mentality."
 
 Cintron stopped Jesse Feliciano in 10 rounds for his second and final defense
 of the IBF title before losing the belt when Margarito stopped him for the
 second time on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto/Alfonso Gomez show at
 Boardwalk Hall.
 
 The two parted ways after the Margarito rematch, though Cintron ultimately
 went with Steward's recommendation and began working with Texas-based Ronnie
 Shields.
 
 He's 4-3-1 in eight fights since, and is now training with longtime friend
 Milton Santiago for his first appearance since a TKO loss to WBC super
 welterweight champ Saul Alvarez last November.
 
 "There are no regrets whatsoever," Cintron said. "Emanuel was a great trainer,
 friend and he sure was a father figure to me and to all his fighters. He
 bettered my skills and got me to the top where I won a world title. I really
 enjoyed the times when we sat around his dining room table and played poker.
 And the moments he shared his stories about boxing.
 
 "My kids could not wait for Manny to have training camps in the Poconos. My
 kids and wife would come to visit, and all my kids would want was to see
 Manny, play and fish with him. My kids will never forget him."
 
 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
 This week's title-fight schedule:
 
 SATURDAY
 
 WBC bantamweight title - Sendai, Japan
 Shinsuke Yamanaka (champion) vs. Tomas Rojas (No. 7 contender)
 Yamanaka (16-0-2, 11 KO): Second title defense; Second fight outside Tokyo
 (1-0)
 Rojas (39-13-1, 26 KO): Sixth title fight; Held WBC title at 115 (2010-11, two
 defenses)
 Fitzbitz says: "Sharp-punching champion is climbing the ladder at 118 and
 doesn't figure to have too many rough moments with veteran Mexican whose best
 days seem passed." Yamanaka by decision
 
 WBC flyweight title - Sendai, Japan
 Toshiyuki Igarashi (champion) vs. Nestor Narvaes (No. 7 contender)
 Igarashi (16-1-1, 10 KO): First title defense; Second fight outside Tokyo
 (1-0)
 Narvaes (19-0-2, 9 KO): First title fight; First fight outside Argentina
 Fitzbitz says: "Champion hasn't yet established himself as an elite, but he'll
 take a step toward that status with traveling foe with zero wins over anything
 resembling true contenders." Igarashi in 7
 
 WBO cruiserweight title - Halle, Germany
 Marco Huck (champion) vs. Firat Arslan (No. 7 contender)
 Huck (34-2-1, 25 KO): Tenth title defense; Two-fight winless streak in 2012
 (0-1-1)
 Arslan (32-5-2, 21 KO): Fourth title fight; Held WBA title at 200 (2007-08,
 one defense)
 Fitzbitz says: "Forty-something challenger has been feasting on the second
 level since losing his own belt, but won't have enough to handle a tough 27-
 year-old incumbent here." Huck in 9
 
 Last week's picks: 1-1
 Overall picks record: 438-149 (74.6 percent)
 
 Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally
 since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
 posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at
 fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
 
 
 
 
 10/31 10:04:17 ET

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