On the HBO doubleheader Saturday, Andre Berto knocked out Carlos Quintana to announce himself as the man you have to talk about the welterweight division after Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley, but as good as the win was it left me with the impression he’ll always be the “after” with that crowd. Meanwhile, Celestino Caballero announced himself as a real force in the featherweight division in a comprehensive beat down of the very brave Daud Yordan, and if Yuriorkis Gamboa fights him next, I’ll be mighty impressed.
Those fights examined, and other Saturday results:
ANDRE BERTO-CARLOS QUINTANA
I really ought to be more impressed by what Berto did to Quintana. He stopped him in the 8th, despite ring rust and an injured bicep. He showed power, speed, accuracy and toughness. Quintana is a man who’s beaten Paul Williams and early on upset the Joel Julio apple cart, a savvy veteran who gave Miguel Cotto a tough time. The only two men to stop Quintana were Williams in the rematch and Cotto. And now, Berto.
Even though he’s 26 years old and could still theoretically be learning, and even under the circumstances, I finally feel like Berto has just about hit his ceiling. He is what he is and I don’t think he’s going to be a pound-for-pound guy after watching this fight against Quintana. I’d held out hope because of his physical explosiveness and grit and some of the improvements he’s made over his career. But what seems to be missing is a certain fluidity, something inherent to his being that says he’s a natural fighter. He’s good enough to be the best of the second-tier welters, a group that includes Quintana and Luis Collazo, another Berto victim, and I think he’d likely beat the rest of them, like Kermit Cintron and Joshua Clottey. Who he wouldn’t beat — and who I don’t see him ever beating absent them aging suddenly — are Pacquiao, Mayweather and Mosley. I could come to regret saying this one day, but I’ve held out hope for Berto’s maximum potential and I am hazarding a prediction that this is it.
Quintana did get his licks in, but it wasn’t enough. He scored what should have been ruled a knockdown in the 1st, and caught Berto with a big left in the 2nd, when Berto said his bicep got messed up and Quintana suffered a cut over his right eye. Quintana outworked Berto in the 6th, but all along Berto’s punches were affecting Quintana more than vice versa. Annoyingly, Berto complained frequently that Quintana’s clean punches were rabbit punches, but in the 3rd Quintana did spin Berto around and pop him in the back of the head to suffer a point deduction. The finish came in the 8th when Berto put together a beautiful combination that staggered Quintana, then kept on him and forced the ref to stop it when he landed a flush straight right that sent Quintana’s head bobbling backward.
So what’s next? For Quintana, he may find warmer climes at 154, which is what he’d been exploring, and where outside of Williams and Sergio Martinez he’d stand at least a decent chance of beating everyone else. And to his credit, Berto seemed to recognize he wasn’t ready for the likes of the welterweight’s first tier, and I think the cancellation of Mosley-Berto in January was a huge favor. There are only so many people, though, he can fight at the level below those guys. It would be nice to see him give Collazo a rematch, first and foremost.
CELESTINO CABALLERO-DAUD YORDAN
This Caballero is a real joy to watch when he’s on his game. Is there any other fighter who from an orthodox stance will consistently throw four consecutive left uppercuts? And he works the body with a ruthlessness that makes me swoon, as a lover of body punchers. It is a bit too bad we had to watch him for as long as it did; it could have been stopped much earlier, with the severe beating Caballero was putting on Yordan.
Caballero won every single round in my book until the 12th, when Yordan — seriously, brave kid, says he’s only 22 years old even though he’s listed at 24 — put together an accurate power flurry on Caballero as his focus waned from the ease of his domination. Caballero stumbled and may or may not have been hurt. I suspect not. He came back and restored the proper order right afterward.
That order was thus: Caballero would jab, dance and throw incredible volumes of punches, reserving his hardest stuff for Yordan’s ribs. Yordan would land the occasional left hook or overhand right, but Caballero rolled with or ducked most of what Yordan threw. In the 2nd round Caballero landed a counter right uppercut to deck Yordan, but Yordan was never badly rattled. He was, however, badly swollen, and after eight rounds of that order playing out, there wasn’t much point in him taking any more of it.
This was Caballero’s debut at featherweight, and it’s hard to say whether he was unable to knockout Yordan because his power wasn’t as great as at 122 or because Yordan was so tough. Either way, he’s instantly a player at 126 because of his volume, height and — on nights like Saturday, unlike other nights when he’s sloppy — boxing acumen. That acumen isn’t perfect, because Yordan caught him clean plenty of times and Yordan doesn’t have the power of, say, a Yuriorkis Gamboa, who could be Caballero’s next opponent. I was already looking forward to that fight with a great deal of anticipation. It’s even more interesting after Saturday.
Other results from the weekend (with all but the first one listed coming via Fightnews and BoxingScene):
- Kudos to welterweight David Estrada for stopping unbeaten Orlando Lora in eight on ESPN2. Estrada’s one of my minor favorites — he’s tough and he fights his guts out every single time he steps between the ropes, but he usually loses to the up-and-coming prospects. Lora was unproven, and Estrada gave him a lesson in some of the subtleties of boxing as well as what it’s like to be in the ring with a hard sumbitch. Lora never stopped fighting, and he certainly showed he’s got the disposition of a real fighter. But he looked soft physically and didn’t have the power to keep Estrada off him, nor the defensive skills to avoid getting hammered with lead rights and body shots of all kinds. His corner wisely stopped it when it began to become apparent that Estrada’s punches were really getting to Lora.
- Heavyweight Evander Holyfield beat Francois Botha by 8th round KO. Not a surprise, not important.
- Welterweight Mark Melligen shut out Norberto Gonzalez over 10 rounds on Fox Sports Net. He’s said he wants Alfonso Gomez next. Given that they share the same promoter, Top Rank, I don’t see that being too hard to make.
- Cristian Mijares beat Francisco Arce in a bantamweight eliminator by split decision. Junior welterweight Lamont Peterson got a knockout win over Damien Fuller.