It was a rumble, a prize fight, not a pugilism exhibition, in the main event Saturday night, from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, and on Showtime. Shawn Porter came to NY to fight, to be aggressive and strong and bullying and nasty. Andre Berto tried to match that, but to no avail. After hitting the deck in the ninth, Berto couldn't fight off the swarmer Porter. As the insistent hitter pressed and pummeled, the ref hopped in and stopped it.
The end of the fight–and Berto's career?–came at 1:31 of the ninth.
Berto jetted in from Florida, and was 146.5 and Porter came from Las Vegas, and originally Ohio; he was 147 pounds Friday.
The tango was billed as a WBC welterweight eliminator.
In the first, Berto (31-4 entering) was more cautious and Porter the aggressor to start. They clinched up a few times. Berto tagged Porter with a right and the crowd caught it.
In the second, Porter (26-2-1 entering) and Berto kept clinching. They wrestled and traded, and then Berto said he got butted. A right to the temple sent Berto to the mat late. He was up with clear eyes, with two seconds to go. A cut formed on Porters’ right eye.
In round three, they’d engage, then clinch. Porter was the mauler-brawler. He landed clean, in close, and looked strong. This was toe to toe combat, in tight, rumbling. Porter went to his corner, nodding, pleased. In the fourth, Berto once again complained after a clinch. Porter scored to the body, in tight, and his accuracy was noticeable. The ref told the commission that Porter was cut. Then the ref took time to have the doc look at cuts. Berto winced as the cut on his left eye was worked on after the round.
To the fifth; Porter sought to overwhelm Berto. His pressure, and combos, weren’t dainty, for sure. He was there to engage in a fight, not pugilism. Berto now mixed in some uppercuts, smartly. Neither man has been a mover and they continued that trend. The doc looked at Berto’s eye and they fought on.
In round six, we saw extra time taken to assess both boxers, in this post Mago world. They didn’t clinch as much, and gave each other more room to work early. Berto went down, a slip. His back was to the ropes several times and it looked like another round he lost.
In the seventh, Porter tried to let Berto edge in, and catch him. Then he went back to pressing. But overall, Porter took a round off. To round eight—Porter pressed, energized. Berto was on the ropes, soon to be stopped? No..he hung tough. But lost the round, bigly.
To 9; Porter threw crisp jabs. Down went Berto. He was hurting, and desperate. Game over, Berto was hurt, and the ref hopped in.
“I got to clean up those head butts. We tried to use the whole ring, but sometimes in the heat of the battle, I’m a fighter and Mr. Berto is a fighter as well, those head butts were just the two of us going in and fighting.
“My intention is never to use my head as a weapon. This was a just very hard fought battle by both of us and I’m blessed to get the victory.”
On Keith Thurman: “I was just up here wishing he said yes – that’s the fight I want next.”
KEN PORTER, SHAWN'S FATHER AND TRAINER
“Shawn is a warrior. I am so proud of him. Berto is a warrior too, but we were blessed with the victory.
“We did what we had to do. Shawn was prepared physically, mentally and emotionally. We weren't leaving here without that belt.
“Shawn wanted to send a sign to everyone that he deserves that shot at the title and he is ready for it.”
“I have to give him credit, but he’s a rough fighter. He has great skills but, at the same time, he’s going to be rough and try to handle me anyway he can. I got a lot of head butts, and he did too. Shawn is a tough competitor. We had a good, competitive fight until the head butts got to be a little too much for me. But I thought it was a really good fight before that.”
KEITH THURMAN (on Porter):
“His team was adamant about the rematch and now he’s fought his way to earn that. We just need to sit down and talk about it. He’s hungry, you see the way he fights, it could be a great fight again.”
“Shawn was relentless in the fashion we know he can fight. He had Berto's number. He was in great shape. Team Porter always does a great job.
“Me and Berto are different fighters. There were a lot of headbutts, but I know to watch out for that. Berto is a little more flat footed than me and that played in Shawn's favor.
“They deserve all the credit in the world. He fought a great fight.”