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Monterey County Herald
Celaya Says He'll Fight Cintron For A Title
Dennis Taylor On Boxing
April 7, 2004
Jose Celaya still won't spill the name of his new, high-profile trainer. He's saving that for a yet-to-be-scheduled press conference, when the trainer can arrange a visit to Monterey County to meet the local media.
But Celaya says his newest team member already has worked behind the scenes to arrange a career-defining bout for the 22-year-old Salinas fighter.
Celaya told the Herald on Tuesday that he expects to fight undefeated Kermit Cintron for the vacant World Boxing Organization welterweight championship before the end of the year -- probably in October in Las Vegas.
The WBO's 147-pound crown became vacant last month when Antonio Margarito voluntarily surrendered his title to move up to the 154-pound, junior middleweight class, where bigger-money fights presumably await.
April's WBO rankings have not been released, but Ricardo Mayorga, ranked No. 1 in March, and Vernon Forest, ranked No. 2, also are expected to move up to junior middleweight after their next bouts, both of which are later this month. Celaya currently is ranked No. 3 and Cintron is No. 4.
"I'm going to fight Kermit Cintron for the world title before the end of the year," Celaya said. "I was excited when my trainer told me that -- it was a big surprise -- but I got the news a few days ago."
Nothing has been signed, and nothing has been confirmed, but Celaya seems confident that the fight will be made. He also says he expects to win.
"Kermit is a great fighter. His strength is power punching, and I have a lot of respect for him," Celaya said. "But styles make fights, and I think I have the skills to go out there and beat him."
Celaya, a slick, lightening-fast boxer with exceptional defensive skills, is the diametric opposite of Cintron, who has slugged his way to a perfect record.
"When their legs go like spaghetti, I'm all over them like sauce," reads a quote on Cintron's Web site.
Originally from Puerto Rico, the 24-year-old Reading, Pa., slugger has hammered out a 22-0 record, knocking out 20 of his opponents. Jesus Valverde (20-9) and Leon Person (9-1-1) were the only opponents to go the distance with Cintron, whose ring nickname is "The Killer."
Although he hasn't yet fought a marquee opponent -- Ian MacKillop, 14-1, probably is the glitziest name -- Cintron's list of opponents hasn't exactly been soft: They had a combined record of 257-154-13 at the time he fought them.
Meanwhile, Celaya, 22-1 with 11 knockouts, has waited impatiently for a shot at a big-name foe. His greatest conquest to date was a 10-round victory by technical decision over Hector Quiroz, 34-6-1 at the time, in July of 2002. His opponents, at the time he fought them, had a cumulative record of 204-184-26.
"I'm ready to do this," Celaya said. "I'm ready for anything and anybody right now, and a year ago, I wouldn't have said that. I wasn't feeling it then, but I'm feeling it now."
The other versions of the welterweight crown -- those sanctioned by the World Boxing Association, the International Boxing Federation, and the World Boxing Council -- will be unified Saturday night when champion Cory Spinks fights challenger Zab Judah.
Whether or not the Cintron fight becomes a reality, Celaya knows he must first take care of business in his next bout, scheduled June 12 at the San Jose Events Center. The opponent for that fight has yet to be determined, but Celaya says he's hoping to be tested.
"I want a legitimate opponent in June," said Celaya, whose last two foes, Richard Lee Hall (9-12-1) and Eddy Cota Pacheco (0-2) were last-minute fill-ins. "My new trainer will pick my opponent for the San Jose fight, but he knows I want the guy to be a good fighter, maybe a contender."
Tickets for the San Jose card, which also reportedly will include Kelsey Jeffries and Carina Moreno, are not yet available.