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Andre Berto emerges victorious
The date was April 16, 2011. Andre Berto was an undefeated WBC welterweight champion and was one major victory away from a showdown with Floyd Mayweather in September.
Entering his fifth defense and third year as 147-pound champion, all Berto had to do was emerge victorious against Victor Ortiz, whose career was on life support at the time. Unfortunately, Ortiz put on the performance of his life (to the surprise of many). Ortiz not only emerged victorious, but he also took Berto’s WBC title and his September dream fight with Mayweather away.
The last few years have been a struggle for Berto; loser of three of his previous five fights. Berto appeared vulnerable in his fight with Zan Zavek and was winless for two years (2012-13), as he was taken apart by both Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto-Karass.
Last Saturday during the Premier Boxing Championship fight card from the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, Berto fought to prove his relevance in the welterweight division. Berto (30-3, 23 KOs) looked primed, ready, and delivered an action-packed performance against upset-minded Josesito Lopez (33-7, 19 KOs). The fight was stopped in the sixth-round, as Berto, a forgotten commodity at 147 pounds, reminded everyone that he is still around and will remain a solid force.
Lopez, who has an upset knockout victory against Ortiz and lost to Canelo Alvarez in September 2012 and Marcos Maidana in June 2013, boxed very well in his fight with Berto. Berto struggled to surpass Lopez’ effective jab, but was gaining momentum as the fight progressed.
Berto is the type of fighter that fights extremely aggressive once he realizes that you don’t have the power to keep him on the outside. Lopez simply didn’t have enough power to hold Berto’s aggressive nature on the outside for too long. It was only a matter of time before Berto’s right hand found its mark and pummeled through Lopez.
In the decisive sixth-round, Lopez was put down with a devastating right hook that drew a mandatory eight-count. Lopez returned to his feet, but Berto floored him again following a barrage of punches. To Lopez’ displeasure, the referee waved off the contest.
“Josesito’s a tough kid,” Berto said. “You’ve got to take your time. I watched his fight with Maidana. He came out banging and knocked him down. He did all that. I knew he was in front of his home crowd, he was going to come out and go bombs away, so I just took my time and kept working he jab.”
Berto, although he isn’t ranked amongst the major sanctioning bodies, or anyone’s top-10 opinion polls, is an attractive opponent for a lot of young and upcoming fighters. Especially if guys like Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner want to move up to 147. WBA ‘interim’ welterweight titlist Keith Thurman’s growing interest maybe an enticing option for Berto as well.
“He started to get a little cocky in the later rounds when he was getting into his groove,” Thurman said of Berto. “But it was good. I’m happy to see the Berto I saw tonight.”
In August 2013 following the loss to Soto-Karass, Berto underwent surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right shoulder. Since his return last fall, Berto has won two consecutive fights, as training with Virgil Hunter while sharing camp with Amir Khan and Andre Ward has helped him a lot.