Welterweights Invade Atlantic City

By Francis Walker
Updated: April 11, 2008

GlovesNEW YORK– WBA 147-pound champion Miguel Cotto will headline an all-important world welterweight championship doubleheader returns on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.

Cotto (31-0, 25 KOs), making the fourth defense of his 147-pound title, faces former “Contender” star, Alfonso Gomez (18-3-2, 8 KOs). In the co-feature, IBF champion Kermit Cintron (29-1, 27 KOs) hopes to extract revenge in a rematch with former WBO champion Antonio Margarito (35-5, 25 KOs).

HBO will televise both fights beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

In 2007, Cotto continued his dominant rise in the welterweight division and stepped up the level of opposition. He beat Oktay Urkal (TKO 11) to win his title, followed by impressive wins against Zab Judah (TKO 11) and Sugar Shane Mosley (W 12).

Many observers believe that there is no doubt that Cotto’s pressure and aggressive body punching will be too much for Gomez. In fact, Cotto’s fight with Gomez is seen nothing more than a showcase for the unbeaten champion from Puerto Rico.

Gomez shouldn’t be underestimated or overlooked. Gomez has a lot of heart, determination, and he is hungry for success at the highest level.

“I don’t think I have a huge challenge in this fight,” Cotto said. “I just have to make my work in the gym. I have to win this fight.

2007 was a very important year for Gomez because he had biggest win of his career. Gomez, who was suppose to be an opponent for Arturo Gatti in a crossroads fight, ended Gatti’s career with a dominant seventh-round TKO in July.

In Gomez’ last fight, he soundly out-boxed former world title challenger Ben Tackie (W 10).

Margarito vs. Cintron 2

The highly anticipated rematch between Kermit Cintron and Antonio Margarito could be the fight of the night. The first time these two boxers fought it was for Margarito’s WBO 147-pound title three years ago.

Margarito dismantled Cintron; knocking him down four times before stopping Cintron in five rounds. Cintron blames the loss on inactivity as Cintron had 279 days of inactivity. Also, Cintron believes that he simply wasn’t ready.

“I was just immature,” Cintron said. “I wasn’t prepared. It wasn’t my night.

Cintron has done well for himself since the loss to Margarito. With the aide of Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Steward, Cintron has put his career back on track.

He won the IBF 147-pound title in October 2006 and has made two successful defenses. Cintron looked spectacular in stopping Walter Dario Matthysse inside of two rounds in July.

“Emmanuel Steward is turning me into a complete fighter,” Cintron added.

In Cintron’s most recent bout, he struggled to put away an overmatched Jessie Feliciano (KO 10) in November. Regardless as to what Cintron does, people will always remember his sole loss to Margarito because people believe that Cintron quit against the most recognizable opponent on his resume.

Many believe that Margarito will repeat his victory against Cintron once again.

“I’m very confident in my preparation,” Margarito said. “I’m going against a champion again. I’m going to go in and comeback out with that title.”

IBF approves Klitschko-Thompson

When IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko unified his championship with the WBO crown from Sultan Ibragimov in February, he also inherited the WBO’s No. 1 contender.

Although Alexander Povetkin won two elimination bouts to become the mandatory heavyweight contender in the International Boxing Federation, Klitschko has been granted an exception by the sanctioning body to face WBO leading challenger Tony Thompson.

“I am very happy about the fair decision by the IBF, because Thompson has already been waiting for a year as the mandatory challenger,” Klitschko said in a statement.

“There is a reason why Thompson is number one in the world ranking, he hasn’t lost in eight years! I saw his knockout win in Germany over Luan Krasniqi, and definitely will not underestimate him.

Klitschko-Thompson will most likely occur in July in Germany. Should Klitschko beat Thompson, the IBF will mandate an immediate title defense against Povetkin.

“I look forward to getting back into the ring in July and to defending the titles again by the end of the year,” Klitschko added.

Unbeaten heavyweight contender Kevin Johnson returns

April 19th is the date. The Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, OK will be the setting for when undefeated heavyweight title contender Kevin Johnson’s return.

Johnson (18-0-1, 6 KO’s), ranked No. 9 by the World Boxing Association, will battle Terry Smith (30-4-1, 18 KO’s) in a scheduled 10-round main event to be televised live on ESPN 2.

“Kevin is the future of the Heavyweight division,” Star Boxing chief Joe DeGuardia said in a recent press release. “He brings that something special with him every time he steps through the ropes. He is clearly the top American Heavyweight contender.”

Johnson, with key victories over Damian Wills, Daniel Bispo, Robert Hawkins, and Jermell Barnes, will be fighting a guy who figures to be the toughest opponent of his career thus far.