By Luis Escobar
It took a while but Kermit "El Asesino" Cintron finally caught up with tough and durable David Estrada in the 10th round of a highly entertaining battle that never lacked for fireworks.
On the comeback trail since his savage TKO loss to WBO titleholder Antonio Margarito last April, Cintron dropped Estrada early in the 10th, after connecting with three whistling right hands to the side of his skull. Estrada beat the count but seconds later Cintron hurt him again with a riveting right uppercut to the chin followed by a volley of leather.
With Estrada pinned on the ropes and taking punishment, referee James Warring jumped between the fighters and pulled Cintron off of his opponent at the 1:18 mark, in a bout scheduled for 12 rounds to determine the IBF's number-two spot in the welterweight rankings. Estrada was also coming off a loss after clearly being on the short end of a ten round unanimous decision to former three-time world champion Shane Mosley, as part of the undercard of the Margarito versus Cintron headliner.
Estrada (18-3, 9 KO's) opened up early and put a great deal of pressure against the bigger, stronger Cintron (26-1, 24 KO's), as he attempted to get inside and land hard flurries to the body. Several times in the opening round, Estrada (147) drilled Cintron (146 ½) with solid left hooks to the head. Estrada, Miami, Florida continued to let his hands go and he repeatedly was able to beat Cintron, Reading, PA., via Caroline, Puerto Rico to the punch.
Following the devastating defeat at the hands of Margarito, Cintron switched trainers and Manny Stewart was brought in to calls the shots for the former Pennsylvania all-star wrestling champion. However, with Steward in Germany preparing Wladimir Klitschko for his showdown with IBF heavyweight king Chris Byrd, Cintron had Javan Hill and Dennis Turner from the Kronk Gym in his corner.
Estrada, 27, continued to connect with looping right hands and accurate left hooks in the third round, as Cintron, 5'11", was forced to give ground. Compounding his problems there was an accidental clash of heads and Cintron, 26, emerged with a small cut in the corner of his right eye midway through the round.
Estrada, 5'9", continued to apply heat but Cintron's overall size and strength began paying off in the middle rounds. Both men repeatedly were able to unload in the 5th, however, Cintron scored with a sharp left hook to the jaw and in the next exchange jolted Estrada with a punishing right uppercut just under the chin. The fans were on their feet at the end of the round cheering both boxers but it was Cintron who was landing the harder and cleaner shots.
With 20-seconds remaining in the 6th, Cintron hurt Estrada with a long right hand to the face that staggered the Florida fighter that buckled his knees before sending him reeling across the ring. With just seconds to go in the 6th, Cintron wound up and smoked Estrada with another volley of shots including a punishing left hooks to the ribs that made a number of ringsiders wince.
Estrada pounded his chest at the sound of the bell but then headed to the wrong corner, which Cintron was only too happy to point out before being shoved away by the former heavyweight turned referee Warring.
Midway through the 7th, Cintron connected with a whistling right uppercut to the face, however, moments later, Estrada returned fire and jolted the former welterweight challenger with a scalding left hook flush on the jaw. Once again the fans were on the feet cheering the outstanding action but it was Cintron who continued to score with the bigger punches and eventually ground down his opponent.
Cintron returned to landing right hands down the middle and crippling left hooks that tattooed Estrada's midsection. The body punches continued to extract a price and by the 10th, Estrada was finally beginning to slow down and his punch output noticeable faded.
At the 2:26 mark of the 10th, Cintron caught Estrada with a clean right cross to the jaw over a lazy left hand. Seconds later, Cintron rocked his opponent with a lead left hook to the face while Estrada labored with his breathing.
Cintron reloaded, circled to his left and then drilled Estrada with two wicked long right hands to the face that drove him into the ropes followed by a stunning left hook to the jaw. Estrada's knees finally gave way and he collapsed down on his hunches against the bottom strand with only his extended left glove keeping him from hitting the floor.
Estrada was back up at the count of four, however, he appeared still shaken from the knockdown. Estrada nodded to Warring that he was ready to continue but there was no conviction in his body language and he moved forward looking like a guy facing an IRS audit.
Cintron jumped on the wounded fighter immediately scoring with two jabs, a left hook to the body and a brutal right uppercut that snapped Estrada's skull straight back. Estrada bounced off the ropes and attempted to clinch but Cintron continued landing leather and Warring finally halted the action.
The TKO brought the Florida fight fans to their feet, as Cintron flexed his muscles and celebrated the impressive victory. Once again the former wrestler turned boxer was on the path to challenge for a world title at 147-pounds.
Undercard: In a welterweight encounter scheduled for ten heats, Maximo Cuevas (8-3-1, 4 KO's) scored an eighth round TKO upset over favored Fontaine "The Flame" Cabell (22-6-1, 17 KO's). Despite Cabell's (147) edge in experience it was Cuevas' (147 ½) power that proved to be the difference. Cuevas, West Palm Beach, Florida switched to a southpaw stance in the 3rd, and began picking Cabell, Almonte Springs, Florida apart. Cuevas, 30, switched back to an orthodox stance and with just seconds remaining in the 7th, he rocked Cabell with a whip-like left hook to the jaw. The shot hurt Cabell, 31, and he struggled to remain upright but he was saved by the bell before he could hit the deck. Cuevas continued to connect with the hammering shots against his rangy opponent and with 39-seconds to go in the 8th, he rocked Cabell once more with a riveting right hand square on the chin. Bending at the waist and struggling to stay vertical, Cabell was unable to clinch with his opponent and Cuevas unloaded a brutal volley of shots. Two more sharp right hands cracked off his chin but Cabell was so disoriented he simply couldn't hold on. When he finally did manage to clinch with Cuevas' back pinned against the ropes, referee Marco Lopez had seen enough and he stopped the contest at the 2:35 mark of the eighth round. Bahamian middleweight Jerome Ellis (9-4-1, 8 KO's) registered a second round TKO over Orlando Milian (14-6, 11 KO's). In billowing trucks that looked like the national flag of the Bahamas, Ellis nailed the fading Milian, Miami, Florida with no less than a dozen straight right hands to the face in the 2nd, followed by a left hook to the body and one more chopping right hand to the head. Milian collapsed to his hands and his knees and referee Jorge Alonso waved off the contest at the 1:53 mark of the 2nd, in a bout set for four rounds.