It was five years ago when Andre Berto was regarded as the possible future of the welterweight division. He was unbeaten and tearing through the ranks, feasting on quality opposition en route to capturing the vacant WBC title. He defended it five times before he ran into Victor Ortiz, and suddenly his star began to fall.
Most expected the Florida native to run roughshod over Ortiz, who had previously quit mid-fight against Marcos Maidana and had just come off a draw with Lamont Peterson. But Ortiz took the fight to Berto, forced him into a brawl that wound up being the fight of the year by most boxing outlets. Ortiz won the decision that night and Berto was never quite the same after suffering his first loss.
Fast forward to Saturday night via Premier Boxing Champions on Fox, and both fighters’ careers are on the line. A win would keep the victor in the spotlight for at least another battle while the loser would most likely have the boxing world’s back turned on him. And when Berto was dropped from a straight left in the second, it seemed like it was going to be a long, disappointing night for the former champ.
Ortiz was boxing well early on, landing jabs to the head and body while moving loosely around the ring. Berto looked stiff and rigid and he just couldn’t find a rhythm. But Andre always has a few tools on his belt that he can always rely on and early in the fourth, after most likely losing the first three stanzas, he changed the tide of the fight with a single shot.
Berto (31-4, 24 KOs) stepped in on the inside and let loose his best punch: the right uppercut. The shot exploded on Ortiz’s chin, forcing the Kansan to crumble in a heap onto his back. Ortiz was in serious peril but he was able to climb back up to his feet. Veteran referee Jack Reiss allowed him to continue, but Berto smelled blood and swarmed him like a shark.
With Ortiz (31-6-2, 24 KOs) staggering around the ring trying to clear his head, Berto was all over him. The Winter Haven native dug furious shots to the head and body, not allowing his rival to shake out the cobwebs. Finally, when Ortiz stumbled into the ropes, Berto drilled him with a combo upstairs and “Vicious” to slumped to the canvas again.
Ortiz struggled to get to his knees and with Reiss counting, he barely was able to beat the count, getting up at nine. Reiss was yelling at him and asking him if he was okay, but Ortiz was staring into outer space, out on his feet. When Reiss had no choice but to waive it off, Ortiz didn’t know what was happening. The official end was 1:14 of the fourth.
It was a sensational win for Berto, who said he is ready to enter his second prime. He said that he wants to fight the best of the best at welterweight and his mission is to regain the world title.
Light heavyweight contender Thomas Williams Jr. came into his fight with the highly-touted Edwin Rodriguez as the underdog, but he was determined to prove the naysayers wrong. By the time he exited the ring inside the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif, he had opened many an eye with his performance.
The two men didn’t waste any time in getting things going as they tore into each other almost immediately. They traded vicious shots to the head and body but Williams seemed like the bigger puncher of the two. Rodriguez was rocked a few times in the first and while he was able to dish out some serious punishment of his own, he was getting bothered much more frequently by his adversary’s punches than vice-versa.
After trading blows in the center of the ring, Williams (20-1, 13 KOs) cracked the Dominican Republic native with an overhand right. Before Rodriguez could regroup, the Maryland fighter nailed him with a perfect left hook. Rodriguez (28-2, 19 KOs) fell flat on his back, seemingly out, but he was somehow able to struggle back to his feet. Referee Wayne Hedgpeth was watching him closely and asking him questions, but Rodriguez was out on his feet, fumbling with his mouthpiece forcing the third man to intelligently halt the bout with a single tick left on the clock in the second. The win will likely set Williams up with a shot at Adonis Stevenson’s title by year’s end.
In the opening bout of the knockout-filled PBC on Fox televised card, Jorge Lara remained unbeaten by starching former three-division world champion Fernando Montiel in the first round. Montiel (54-6-2, 39 KOs) was never given a chance to get anything going as the Guadalajara fighter pounced all over the 37-year-old.
Lara dropped Montiel seconds into the match behind a flurry of shots to the head. Montiel quickly got back to his feet and tried to reset his approach, but with Fernando wobbly, Lara never let him breathe. A cupping left hook felled Montiel shortly thereafter and almost as soon as he was allowed to continue, a lead right took him off his feet for the third time.
Amazingly, Montiel was allowed to continue, but Lara quickly ended the mugging with a grenade of a right hook, sending “Cochulito” face-first onto the canvas. The end came officially at 1:37 of the opening frame, allowing Lara to improve to 28-0-2 with his 20th knockout.
Also on the card: David Benavidez (14-0, 13 KOs) stopped fellow light heavyweight Phillip Jackson at 2:07 of the second; heavyweight Gerald Washington (17-0-1, 11 KOs) edged Eddie Chambers (42-5, 23 KOs) over eight uneventful rounds (79-73, 80-72, 80-72); 2012 U.S. Olympian welterweight Terrell Gausha (18-0, 9 KOs) pummeled Orlando Lora (30-7-2, 19 KOs) and scored a TKO after seven rounds; and lightweights Adan Mares (14-1-3, 3 KOs) and Jesus Aguinaga (4-3-1) fought to a six-round draw.
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