Berto Makes His Case

By Tom Donelson
Updated: January 19, 2009

Boxing Gloves IOWA CITY — Going into the last round, Andre Berto needed to win the final three minutes. With his undefeated record on the line along with a share of the Welterweight division, Berto went into second gear and as he nailed Luis Collazo with power shots after power shots.

With 30 seconds left, Berto nailed with Collazo with a final combination that sent Collazo reeling. He survived the round in a fight that could have gone either way.

Two of the judges scored the final round as the decisive round.

From the first round when a Collazo left nearly derailed Berto undefeated express, this was a great fight with action from the opening bell to the final seconds.

Berto retreated into the rope before countering with a right hand that shook Collazo. From this point, this evolved into one of those classic fights that whets the appetite of even the most detached boxing fans.

In the third round, Collazo forced Berto into a pitched battle as he threw punches in bunches. Fighting inside and nailing Berto with relentless body shots that slowed the quicker Berto.

Collazo went back to work in the fourth round and Berto held on for dear life as the referee deducted a point from the defending champion. Berto went into the fifth round behind on the scorecard and Collazo forcing the pace.

Berto decided to box and move instead of fighting Collazo fight on the inside. Over the next four rounds, Berto appeared to take control as he moved around Collazo.

Starting in the fifth round, Berto returned the favor as he nailed Collazo with dynamite body shots of his own. Those punches showed their effect as Collazo slowed down his pace. In the seventh round, a Berto left jab opened up a cut over left eye of Collazo.

After the eighth round, Collazo looked like a beaten fighter but in the ninth saw Collazo take his fight back to another level. Returning back to his form of the third and the fourth round, Collazo aimed his own body shots and returned from the dead

Berto, after taking control of the fight, lost it as quick. He repeated the mistakes of the early portion of the fight as he allowed Collazo to fight on the inside and threw punches with impunity.

Collazo dominated the 10th round as he did the ninth and appeared to within two rounds of winning a share of the title. Berto now needed to win the eleventh and the twelfth round to keep his title.

He did what he did in the seventh and eighth round; boxed and then moved in to out punch his rival. Just as Collazo used body shots to effect in the eighth and the ninth, Berto returned the favor in the eleventh.

At the end of the 1th, Berto’s combinations pushed Collazo to the rope.

The 12th round provided the final firework to a brilliant fight. For Luis Collazo, this was shades of Ricky Hatton in which he lost a close fight that could easily have been scored his way.

This fight was no different.

This fight could have gone Collazo way and the two judges who scored it 114-113 in Berto’s favor; could have easily been scored 114-113 in favor of Collazo’s favor. (Forgot the 116-111 round, for there was no way that Berto won nine rounds with a one point deduction.)

Berto connected on more punches and slightly higher accuracy, Collazo had moments that he dominated. This fight had its ebb and flow as Collazo dominated the first four rounds whereas Berto won the middle rounds.

The last four rounds were desperate pitched battles that saw Berto outlasting Collazo.

The Welterweight division is now one of boxing deepest with Antonio Margarito now the reigning champ but by slim margins. Paul Williams, who is a tall shadow over three division, has already defeated Margarito and Margarito is in no hurry for a rematch.

Behind Margarito, there are great fighters like Berto, Cotto, the apparently ageless Mosley, and Williams. And when you add Mayweather, who may find the right fight to leave retirement in Paquiao, you find a division that is full of one great fight after another.

As for Berto, he showed the heart of a champion and he showed that as a 25-year old fighter, he still have much to learn. There were times that he allowed Collazo forced him into a pitch battle that benefited Collazo.

As a smaller welterweight, he will have to depend upon his guile to go with his quickness and hand speed to defeat the bigger fighters in the division.