Andre Berto stops Josesito Lopez in six to keep career alive
ONTARIO, California – Andre Berto doesn’t have the legs, reflexes or punch resistance he had when he held versions of the welterweight title, but the 31-year-old veteran is still fast and he can still crack with his right hand.
That punch – the right cross delivered with Berto’s vaunted speed and pop – kept his career alive as the Winter Haven, Florida native used it to score a sixth-round stoppage of the always-game Josesito Lopez at the Citizens Business Bank Arena on Friday. More than a few observers thought the stoppage was premature, even though it was clear that Lopez had been rocked by the shots to his jaw and temple, which produced the knockdowns.
Both fighters entered the SpikeTV-televised main event as former welterweight contenders who desperately needed a victory in order to remain in the 147-pound mix. Berto (30-3, 23 knockouts), a former WBC and IBF beltholder, was just one bout removed from punishing back-to-back losses to Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass in 2012 and 2013. Lopez (33-7, 19 KOs), a 30-year-old native of nearby Riverside, was three bouts removed from back-to-back stoppages to Canelo Alvarez and Marcos Maidana in 2012 and 2013.
However, Lopez, the crowd favorite, didn’t fight like he was gun shy against Berto. After a minute and a half of mutual posing in the opening round, the skinny slugger let his hands go to Berto’s body and head. Lopez continued to dig to the body and punch in combination in Round 2. Berto seemed content to casually walk Lopez down behind a stiff power-jab and shake his head (to indicate he wasn’t hurt) every time he was nailed by a punch.
In Rounds 3 and 4, Berto was able to back his man to the ropes and zero in with single power shots but he missed most of his follow-up punches when Lopez utilized a little upper-body movement.
Both welterweights gave the fans a thrill by exchanging serious heat throughout Round 5, causing some press row observers to believe they were witnessing the beginning of an extended slugfest, but the plug was pulled when Berto landed a right-hand bomb about 45 seconds into Round 6. Lopez was dropped to the seat of his trucks, but his eyes seemed clear and he appeared to have his wits about him when he got to his feet.
However, Berto wasn’t about to let the known action fighter get back into the bout and did the smart thing by jumping on him. Berto landed another right – this one high on Lopez’s head – that produced the second knockdown and referee Raul Caiz Jr. waved the bout off without allowing the local lad the chance to try and get to his feet or prove that he could continue.
It was a tough break for Lopez, who thought his fight with Maidana was stopped too soon but told boxing writers that this one was ridiculously premature.
“This was 10 times worse than Maidana,” Lopez said after the fight. “I was buzzed with Maidana, not tonight. I was ready to continue tonight. The first knockdown was a flash knockdown. I wasn’t buzzed. I took the referee’s eight count fine.
“I was ready to continue after the second knockdown but he stopped it and it definitely surprised me. I didn’t see that coming. I was like ‘Really? Are you serious?’ I wish I could’ve continued.”
Berto thinks Lopez just would have wound up on the canvas again had the bout been allowed to continue.
“My jab was the difference,” Berto told press row after the fight. “If I could land it, I knew I could land the right hand. I knew he couldn’t hurt me after he hit me a few times, so I knew eventually I was going to get to him.
“After the third round I saw that he was starting to wilt a little bit. I think the crowd was keeping him in it. After the first knockdown I thought that he would probably get up but I knew that I would drop some heavy stuff on him if he did.”
In the co-featured bout of the Goossen Tutor Promotions card, former IBF welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter rebounded from his first loss by overwhelming game-but-outgunned late substitute Erick Bone to a fifth-round stoppage. Bone (16-2, 8 KOs), a 26-year-old Ecuadorian, literally took the fight on less than a day’s notice when Porter’s original opponent, Robert Garcia, had to pull out of the bout due to an undisclosed medical condition on Friday.
Regardless of who was in front of him, Porter (25-1, 16 KOs) was going to try to impose his usual frenetic and physical style on his opponent. The 27-year-old Akron, Ohio, native needed to get back into the win column after losing his title to Kell Brook last August.
Porter looked a little rusty in the early rounds but the former amateur standout, who beat Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi in title bouts prior to the loss to Brook, got his head movement and power-jab going by Round 3. Porter was able to get inside Bone’s longer reach and pound his body while getting under the South American’s return fire.
Still, despite having never faced a boxer of Porter’s class, Bone was game and not afraid to take the fight to his world-rated opponent (which won over the vocal local crowd). However, he couldn’t match Porter’s brute physical strength or aggression once he was in close contact and he was visibly hurt every time the former titleholder landed to his body.
Porter broke Bone down in Round 4 and went for the finish in Round 5 by coming forward and mixing his attack to the body and head. The fight was stopped at 2:30 of Round 5 by referee Jack Reiss after Bone, who looked like he may have suffered a broken nose, was dropped after absorbing a series of left-and-right haymakers along the ropes.
In wild and sloppy but entertaining slugfest, former two-time heavyweight title challenger Chris Arreola earned a close decision over the very game Curtis Harper.
Arreola (36-4, 31 KOs), a 34-year-old veteran from Riverside, used to regularly headline shows at this arena but on Friday he was in an eight-round swing bout and he went life and death with his unheralded opponent from Jacksonville, Florida.
It’s clear that Arreola, who weighed in at a very soft 262 pounds on Thursday, is done as a serious player in the heavyweight division. To get an idea of how far Arreola has fallen take into consideration that his last fight, a sixth-round TKO loss to Bermane Stiverne last May, was for the vacant WBC title. Harper (12-4, 8 KOs), a competent but unspectacular 26-year-old journeyman, was stopped in five rounds by prospect Gerald Washington in March 2013. Washington, just 6-0 at the time, is a former college football player who had almost no amateur experience.
Arreola’s days as a contender may be behind him but the affable slugger’s not finished as an entertaining fighter as he and Harper gave the fans in the arena and those watching on TV something to cheer.
Harper set the tone for the fight by charging Arreola into the ropes and stunning him in the opening seconds of the bout. Arreola fired back and immediately hurt, then dropped, Harper, but the “opponent” survived Round 1 and went toe-to-toe with the more experienced fighter in the next two rounds.
Neither fighter had anything in the way of defense but by Round 4 Harper appeared to be the better conditioned of the two and the man with the better punch resistance/recovery. Harper rocked Arreola twice early in the round but the flabby slugger battled back and did some damage while backing the journeyman to the ropes. However, Harper was still able to nail Arreola flush with left and right uppercuts.
Arreola, who won by scores of 76-75, 78-73 and 77-74, outworked Harper over the second half of the bout but every time he had his man hurt the opponent lashed out with power shots that found his face. Arreola had to dig deep to keep Harper off balance and reeling in the final round.
“I give myself a ‘D,'” Arreola said of his performance after the fight. “I could have done a lot better.”
Even his most ardent fan would disagree.
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