Let’s face it: Andre Berto didn’t need much extracurricular business to lose Saturday night on Showtime, which is what he did. Fella has been past his prime for a long time — his last win over a top 10 welterweight was back in 2011, and he’s propped up his career with the occasional unexpected victory over a borderline boxer, and whatever name recognition he got for losing to Floyd Mayweather in his farewell fight.
Shawn Porter is a real top 10 welterweight, who thrives in a pressuring, bullying style. He was winning most every moment Saturday when it came down to pure ability and skill, so it’s more than a little unfortunate that the pressuring and bullying turned into outright mugging that became such a dominant theme of the battle. Showtime hyped this one like it was a fight of note, and spent on it like it was, too, but in reality, the most we could hope for was Berto putting up a game, competitive effort — he offered game, he didn’t offer competition — and instead we watched a freaking mauling.
Consider the ending, in the 9th round. A Porter head butt — one of an endless series that left both men with cuts (Porter over both eyes, Berto over one) — send Berto falling backward almost through the ropes. As a semi-dazed Berto complained to the ref, Berto came in with a left that again left Berto nearly sagging through the ropes, resulting in a knockdown ruling.
When action resumed, Porter kept racking up damage with legit punches, as he had all night, rocking him to the body and with left and overhand rights, one of the latter of which resulted in a 2nd round knockdown. Berto, as before, could offer little resistance; in his finest moments of the night, he’d land an uppercut and/or counter. But in the 9th, he offered nothing. The Porter bullying, which began in the 2nd after an uneventful 1st, was dictating the pace.
And look, Berto was pretty well done with the fight at that point in the 9th. But it wasn’t a punch that sent him flying back into a corner, prompting the ref to step in and stop it. Rather, it was a shoulder shove.
Porter can be, and has been, in good fights. We know that he’s going to bring a bit of the ugly to every fight. It’s just his style. It’s how he thrives. But with a dance partner who once had speed and power but never had much in the way of technique or balance, and whose remaining speed, power, reflexes and balance have disintegrated, this one was merely plain ugly.
It might set up a rematch between Porter and Keith Thurman, which is all you can commend to it.
As far as the undercard goes: Are the talented, but oft-overly cautious junior middleweight Charlo twins… Are they (gasp) on the path to becoming fan favorites? Each now have scored highlight-reel knockouts in each of their last fights. This time it was Jermell, who very nearly scored a highlight-reel KO in the 3rd, but Charles Hatley somehow arose from a combination finished by a big right. The real end came in the 6th: A big right left Hatley face-down nearly outside the ring mattress. Now, Jermall did it against a fellow top-10 154-pounder, while Jermell did it against Hatley, who’s hard to categorize; he’s faced “names,” but not anyone all that great, and lost to Lanardo Tyner. So, for now, edge Jermall. But if the excitement of performance with these brothers catches up to their ability, watch out.