The odd finish to Saturday night's Paul Williams-Kermit Cintron fight was one of the strangest endings I've seen in boxing. It's not often that you see a guy -- Cintron in this case -- catapulted out of the ring during a round and the fight suddenly called off.
In a nutshell, what happened was Williams and Cintron got tangled up early in the fourth round. While Williams fell to the canvas, Cintron tripped over him and went flying between the ropes and crashed into a ringside table before falling to the floor of the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Cintron said afterward that he was momentarily out of breath, needed a minute to catch his wind and wanted to continue. But California's ringside doctors called off the fight, which was sent to the scorecards with Williams receiving a technical decision.
It was a disappointing night all the way around, especially considering that California refused to use the standard Association of Boxing Commissions rules for a 12-round bout, which would have meant the fight would have been ruled a no-decision because four rounds hadn't been completed.
We can debate California's horrible rules and the fact that a scheduled 12-rounder should never be declared a technical decision when only three-plus rounds are in the books. But what has Lou DiBella, Cintron's outspoken promoter, even more annoyed is he believes that Dan Goossen, Williams' promoter, is trying to distance their side from a rematch.
DiBella is also upset by the talk from some who claim Cintron dogged it when he could have easily continued.
"The reason Williams went down in the first place was because he had no balance, because he was on rubbery legs after being hit flush by Kermit," said DiBella, who was in near-rant mode. "Kermit was trying to avoid a collision and he fell through the ropes. That was pure, damn bad luck. He hit his side. There was a big red mark on his side. When he hit the ground, the air was knocked out of him. The doctors were worried he broke a rib or [suffered] a punctured lung, but he felt much better within about 30 seconds or a minute and he was OK to fight. Now, I am not criticizing the doctors for doing what is right to protect the safety of the fighter, but if Goossen wants to hang his hat on Williams winning under those circumstances … "
DiBella cursed a few times and then said that Cintron should have been given the typical five minutes to recover that fighters are allowed following an accidental foul.
"They wouldn't give him the time or let him up," DiBella said. "They were holding Kermit down and telling him not to move."
When told of DiBella's remarks, Goossen was the model of calm to DiBella's storm: "I don't mind him fighting for his fighter. But Cintron was on the ground right in front of me. I'm not in the fighter's head, but he gave zero indication for the multitude of minutes he was there that he wanted to fight on. He didn't move a limb. To me, just looking at him in that state, I thought he was injured. Now they're saying he wasn't injured and [was] capable of fighting, but his actions didn't show that."
Dr. Paul Wallace, one of the ringside physicians, didn't see it the same way as DiBella, and he was one of the men at Cintron's side after the fall. Wallace told the Los Angeles Times, "I did say I wanted the fight stopped because the fighter twice said he could not continue. He was asked, 'Can you continue?' and he said 'No.' Twice. If he had mentioned to me something like 'Give me a moment,' I understand. These are warriors. Any hint that he still wanted to participate, we would've given that to him. We would have got him up and given him a second evaluation."
Goossen and Williams would prefer to make a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao. Of course they would. What fighter wouldn't? But those two superstars are going to negotiate to fight each other, the biggest bout in boxing.
"Goossen knows damn well that Paul isn't getting Mayweather or Pacquiao, so he is just starting a smear campaign so he doesn't have to do this fight again," DiBella said. "If Williams can get Pacquiao or Mayweather, nobody will say a cross word. But I don't believe he's getting either, so no fight is more appropriate than a rematch."
Goossen has his reasons for not being interested in a rematch: "There was nothing compelling that happened in the fight to say I want to see this again. On the other hand, disregarding that we want bigger and better fights, whatever rules you like or dislike, the scores were read and Paul won. And disregarding bigger and better things, if HBO said we gotta have that rematch, we'd certainly address it at that point, but I haven't gotten any indication of HBO's position as it relates to doing it again. How am I going to sit there and champion a rematch when there's no desire to have a rematch, other than from Lou and Kermit? If we can't get a fight we like, Cintron would be somebody we'd consider."
If you ask me, the whole thing was just a matter of "stuff happens." As DiBella said, it was just pure, damn bad luck.
I also think that if Cintron wanted to continue as desperately as he and his promoter have said, he could have at least put up a little bit of fight to the doctors. I know if I was in a position where I really wanted to do something and somebody had their hands on me trying to dissuade me, I would be trying to get them off of me. Goossen is right -- Cintron didn't do a thing. And it's hard to dismiss Wallace's remarks.
But it would also be nice if Goossen would stop treating it as a legit win for Williams. I don't consider it to be a legitimate win for Williams or a legitimate loss for Cintron, so a rematch makes sense -- in theory. But is it even economically viable? There was little demand for a first fight and very little crowd support, although that should be attributed to Goossen for holding the fight in a place and time it didn't belong -- Southern California, where neither fighter has any fans, during the teeth of the Lakers' playoff season.
Also, if you are running HBO Sports, do you buy the fight again? The three-plus rounds that took place were not exactly scintillating, even though the action was beginning to heat up a little. HBO paid a lot of money for that fight. (In the ballpark of $2 million, I believe.) HBO sure didn't get its money's worth. Should the network throw good money after bad?
It shouldn't. Let's move on.
Maybe we can revisit the fight at another time. Just make sure the ropes are sturdier.