Champion Again! Berto outlasts Zaveck

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 4, 2011

Andre Berto

Andre Berto

NEW YORK, NY (BASN)—Former undefeated WBC welterweight titlist Andre Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) can be called champion again. The 27 year-old, fighting for the first time since losing to Victor Ortiz in April, pounded Jan Zaveck (31-2, 18 KOs) to capture the IBF 147-pound crown at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, MS on Saturday.

Berto vs. Zaveck was televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark.

“It was my first fight coming back,” Berto said. “I was stuck in a cave the last few months just staying focused. I’m focused. I’m ready. I’m hungry.”

One of the major questions heading into the fight was whether Berto would be shell-shocked following the Ortiz fight. Ortiz was easily able to him repeatedly. Berto and Ortiz exchanged knockdowns during what was one of the very best fights of 2011. The difference was Ortiz handled betting hit repeatedly a lot better than Berto.

Another question was whether Berto could sustain a high-energy, fast-pace type of fight. Fortunately, Zaveck, an unknown commodity in the United States, was good enough to help answer a few questions. To Zaveck’s credit he proved to be a very tough opponent for Berto, as he pressed Berto from the opening round.

Zaveck has a similar build to Berto’s short and stocky frame. Zaveck fought a similar fight to Berto. Zaveck landed some clean punches that nearly snapped Berto’s head backwards and was very aggressive. The difference between both fighters was Andre Berto. Berto was committed to pounding Zaveck’s body. Berto was committed to using his right and applying relentless pressure. Whenever Berto was hit, he dug deep. Berto responded by throwing hard combination between Zaveck’s guard. Berto forced his will upon Zaveck.

Berto appeared physically and mentally equipped to handle a tough fight with Zaveck. When Zaveck applied pressure using a looping overhand right, Berto didn’t look for the clinch. Instead, the two-time welterweight champion appeared anxious to exchange punches. Berto was looking to punish Zaveck every chance he received.

Zaveck fought hard to retain, but in the end he was forced to relinquish his coveted title belt.

Prior to the beginning of the sixth round, Zaveck had suffered a severe cut and a badly swollen right eye. Zaveck couldn’t see and his corner stopped the fight.

Randall Bailey next for Berto

Former junior welterweight champion Randall Bailey is the current IBF No. 1-ranked contender and agreed to allow Berto to fight Zaveck for the 147-pound title. Prior to Berto-Zaveck, Bailey didn’t care who’d win. He just wanted a shot to become a champion again.

“It doesn’t matter who wins because I will be ready for either of them in the next fight,” Bailey said. Regardless of who wins the belt, they won’t own it much longer.”

Berto vs. Bailey is a win-win for promoter Lou DiBella simply because, he promotes both fighters. Considering Berto and DiBella’s ties with HBO it figures to be an easy fight to make.

“He was a legitimate mandatory,” DiBella stated. “The reason Baily let it happen is because he’s a smart guy, he’s been around the fight game a long time, and he understands that he’s got to feed his family. He understands that [Berto vs. Zaveck] was sellable to HBO because of all of Berto’s TV exposure, where [Bailey's] fight against Zaveck would have taken place in Europe and no one would have seen it. Bailey will make a lot more money as a result of that decision in his next fight.”