KERMIT CINTRON vs. ANTWONE SMITH
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / junior middleweights
Location: St. Charles, Mo.
The backdrop: Cintron (32-4-1, 28 knockouts) is in a must-win situation after losing his last two bouts in bizarre and head-scratching fashion. The 31-year-old former welterweight titleholder dropped a four-round technical decision to Paul Williams last May after flopping out of the ring just as the fight became interesting and then allowed fringe contender Carlos Molina outwork him over 10 rounds last month. What happened to Cintron’s world-class power? Where’s the experience and ring savvy the veteran used to outpoint Alfredo Angulo in 2009? Maybe it's all gone. Many speculate that Cintron is either mentally or physically shot. If that’s the truth, Smith (20-2-1, 12 KOs), a tough and talented prospect from Miami, will expose it. The 24-year-old boxer-counter-puncher is two fights removed from a ninth-round TKO loss to Lanardo Tyner and he’s eager to erase that setback by collecting Cintron’s scalp on national television. On the undercard, Dannie Williams (18-1, 14 KOs), an exciting 24-year-old prospect from St. Louis, takes on capable journeyman Antonio Cervantes (16-5-5, 11 KOs), a solid 10-round fighter who upset unbeaten Reyes Velasquez in March.
Also fighting: Dannie Williams vs. Antonio Cervantes, 10 rounds, lightweights
Rating the card: B+. Cintron probably doesn‘t deserve a TV date after the way he flubbed on HBO and Showtime in his last two bouts but he was once a dangerous contender and he‘s in with a promising and fearless young up-and-comer. If Cintron has any fight left in him, Smith will bring it out. Williams is a talented boxer-puncher who has won six in a row since dropping a close decision to unbeaten prospect Eloy Perez in a wild fight that witnesses say was one of the best of 2009.
Prediction: Smith outworks Cintron to a close unanimous decision in an entertaining fight.
ANTONIO DIAZ vs. ERNESTO ZEPEDA
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / welterweights
Location: Indio, Calif.
The backdrop: How much does Diaz (46-6-1, 29 KOs), who hasn’t fought since being stopped by Victor Ortiz in December of 2009, have left at this stage of his career? Probably not much. The 53-bout veteran, who defeated Cory Spinks, Omar Weis, Ivan Robinson and Micky Ward during his prime (from 1998-2000), has been in more ring wars than he cares to remember. However, the 35-year-old boxer-slugger still has a name in his hometown of Coachella, Calif., and nearby Indio, where Friday’s card takes place. And he might have enough left to beat his opponent, Zepeda (39-14-4, 34 KOs), a 34-year-old former contender from Mexico who is one year younger than Diaz but may have more wear and tear on his body (if that’s humanly possible). Zepeda has lost six of his last eight bouts (mostly to up-and-comers) and he has not defeated a solid opponent in at least six years. Diaz will still probably manage to turn the fight into a battle. On the undercard, Cancio (10-1-2, 10 KOs), a hard-punching 22-year-old prospect from Blythe, Calif., returns to the ring after a 2-year hiatus to face Lowell Brownfield (11-7-1, 4 KOs), a 30-year-old journeyman from San Fernando, Calif., who has lost his last three bouts (two by knockout).
Also fighting: Andrew Cancio vs. Lowell Browfield, six rounds, junior welterweights
Rating the card: C+. Both Diaz and Zepeda should be retired. However, they probably will make for an entertaining fight.
Prediction: Diaz scores a mid-to-late rounds TKO.
JOSEPH AGBEKO vs. ABNER MARES
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / bantamweights
Location: Las Vegas
The backdrop: The finals match of Showtime’s four-man single-elimination bantamweight tournament was supposed to take place in Los Angeles on April 23, but Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs) suffered a severe back injury (due to an aggravated sciatic nerve) six days prior to this showdown with Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs) which ultimately moved the anticipated fight to this Saturday. That’s OK. Hardcore fans know that this is a matchup worth waiting for. Both Agbeko, THE RING’s No. 3-rated bantamweight, and Mares, the magazine’s No. 4-rated 118 pounder, are complete fighters with athletic styles and aggressive mentalities. Both bantamweight standouts are motivated to win. Agbeko, a 31-year-old two-time titleholder from the Bronx, N.Y. (by way of Ghana), wants the recognition he feels he’s earned. Mares, a 25-year-old Southern Californian, is vying for his first major title. Agbeko has the edge in experience but Mares has youth on his side. It’s an even matchup that will definitely live up to it’s hype. On the undercard, former flyweight titleholder Eric Morel (44-2, 22 KOs), who reportedly has a shot at WBA bantamweight beltholder Anselmo Moreno waiting for him in October, is in a stay busy bout against tough Mexican journeyman Daniel Quevedo (13-11-2, 8 KOs); Luis Ramos Jr. (19-0, 8 KOs) takes on game gate-keeper David Rodela (15-4-3, 6 KOs) in his first scheduled 10-round bout; and Eric Molina (17-1, 13 KOs) fights Warren Browning (14-1-1, 9 KOs) in a machup of unproven, undersized heavyweight hopefuls.
Also fighting: Eric Molina vs. Warren Browning, 12 rounds, heavyweights; Eric Morel vs. Daniel Quevedo, 10 rounds, bantamweights; Luis Ramos vs. David Rodela, 10 rounds, lightweights
Rating the card: A. Agbeko-Mares is as good as boxing gets.
Prediction: Mares guts out a close decision victory in an excellent fight.
TEON KENNEDY vs. ALEJANDRO LOPEZ
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior featherweights
Location: Atlantic City, N.J.
Television: Fox Sports Net/Fox Deportes
The backdrop: Kennedy (17-0-1, 7 KOs) has fought three times since his 10th-round stoppage of Francisco Rodriguez, who died two days after their tragic bout in November of 2009. All three bouts — against Jose Beranza (UD 12), Alex Becerra (TKO 10) and fellow unbeaten prospect Jorge Diaz (UD 12) — were grueling, hard-fought victories. Nothing comes easy for the gutsy 25-year-old technician from Philadelphia and his bout against Lopez (21-2, 7 KOs) figures to be another tough outing. The 24-year-old Tijuana native is a career featherweight stepping down to 122 pounds to face Kennedy. His only losses are an eight round decision to Diaz and a four-round majority decision to former amateur standout Aaron Garcia. On the undercard, Karl Dargan (9-0, 4 KOs), a 26-year-old former amateur star from Philadelphia, gets some much-needed activity against Juan Suazo, a capable 31-year-old journeyman from Tucson, Ariz.
Also fighting: Karl Dargan vs. Juan Suazo, eight rounds, lightweights
Rating the card: B+. Kennedy is a talented prospect/fringe contender who is seldom in a bad fight. Lopez should bring out his best.
Prediction: Kennedy wins another hard-fought decision.
Also fighting on Saturday: Lightweight contender Michael Katsidis stays busy against former title challenger Michael Lozada in a scheduled 12-round bout in Broadbeach, Australia.
Former junior flyweight beltholder Luis Lazarte takes on Nerys Espinoza in a scheduled 12-round elimination bout for the IBF’s 108-pound title in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Strawweight contender Juan Palacios faces Armando Torres in a scheduled 12-round bout in Acapulco, Mexico.
Doug Fischer can be emailed at email@example.com