In the main event on Saturday night from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, and live on Showtime, Shawn Porter (27-2-1, 17 KOs) and Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) put on a display of potency like no other.
The aggressive and strong Porter did what he does best, he turned up the pace and opened a can of super-sized intensity on his opponent.
Berto tried his best to meet Porter in the ring with same amount of force, but he only had minimal success.
The dangerous and aggressive Porter often forced Berto backwards and wrangled his way into awkward angles; leaving Berto unable to catch his rhythm and establish his own game plan.
Throughout the lead up to the fight, the two men had been cordial and often spoke of their respect for one another.
That level of respect continued into the ring as Round 1 began with the two cautiously feeling each other out. However, from the opening bell, Porter seemed to establish his brute style early with aggression and clinches.
In the second, Porter and Berto kept clinching and as the two began to fight in closer quarters and the fight grew in excitement. This was clearly going to be a dog fight, not a technical display.
Late in the second round, a right hand to the temple sent Berto to the canvas. Berto quickly shook off the punch, answered the 10-count and seconds later the round ended.
In the middle rounds, the two repeated the process of engaging and eventually clinching. Berto landed some shots in between but Porter was surely getting the better of the exchanges.
Porter had continued success in the middle rounds with his overwhelming and swarming tactics. Porter was clearly not interested in a finesse fight as this was his plan to force a battle of intensity and pressure.
Berto had some success in close range using his swift uppercuts but the well-conditioned Porter just kept his furious punches coming, attacking the body and the head without letting up.
In this ugly battle, unintentional head butts were a recurring act. Both fighters had cuts opened up above their eyes and were examined by the ringside physicians several times. Both Porter and Berto battled through blood-blurred vision through the bout.
In Round 7, Porter seemed to have taken a round off, but, this conservation of energy showed to have paid off well in the following rounds. A revitalized Porter came out in Round 8 with an attack that seemed like it might stop Berto, but he somehow held on to survive the round.
Round 9 started with more of same, Porter was pushing hard and Berto was surviving. Berto took a flurry of ugliness in the form of punches, cliches and head butts and simply couldn’t fight off the Porter swarm any longer. As the insistent Porter continued his attack, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight.
Porter was obviously elated as he won the bout and most excited that he finally may have secured himself a mandatory shot at the WBC title holder, Keith “One Time” Thurman. Porter has been seeking a rematch for nearly a year, but tonight, in victory, he has earned his second chance.
Post fight, Thurman entered the ring and spoke to Jim Gray about meeting Porter again.
“His team was adamant about the rematch and now he’s fought his way to earn that,” said Thurman. “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.”
Porter was aware that the head butts were an issue as no fighter wants to get labeled at a dirty fighter. Porter explained to Gray that he plans to fix this issue.
“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,” said Porter.
As for fighting, the two certainly did just that tonight, although it may not have been pretty it was steadfast and gritty, just how Shawn Porter wanted it.