Porter batters Berto, stops him in ninth in WBC title eliminator
Shawn Porter said before his bout with Andre Berto that perhaps he would abandon his usual wildfire, ambush-like tactics and ride his boxing ability and finesse to victory.
And for a couple rounds, Porter did stick to boxing, bouncing on his toes and darting in and out. But with the WBC welterweight title eliminator devolving into a muddy wrestling match and with both fighters dealing with cuts and blood and repeated warnings for head butts, Porter resorted back to his mauling, mugging, overly physical style. The result was a ninth-round stoppage for Porter, who scored two knockdowns to earn a title shot with two-belt champion Keith Thurman, who was in attendance at Barclays Center on Saturday.
With Porter unloading on Berto against the ropes, referee Mark Nelson jumped in and waved off the bout at 1:31 of the ninth before an announced crowd of 9,118 fans. Porter dropped Berto earlier in the ninth, softening him up for a finish after Berto was also dropped in the second from a winging right. It wasn’t easy, though for Porter, a former welterweight titleholder, same as Berto. Now, Porter wants a rematch with Thurman, who won a hotly contested decision at Barclays Center against Porter last June.
“His team was adamant about the rematch and now he’s fought his way to earn that,” Thurman said in the ring with Porter looking on. “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 defended himself against accusations from Berto he was using his head too much. “I got to clean up those head butts,” Porter said afterward. “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.”
Berto applauded Porter on the effort but felt the butts were too much to overcome. “Shawn is a tough competitor,” said Berto. “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.” Thurman said he’s not worried about Porter’s tactics. “Me and Berto are different fighters,” he said. “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.”
Porter sustained a cut over his left eye earlier in the second and as he walked back to his corner, blood streamed down his face. It wasn’t clear when Porter sustained the cut but he was pinning Berto against the ropes to start the second and seemed to lead with his head at times.
Porter’s right eye began to bleed in the fourth. Nelson seemed to warn both boxers on head butting in the round, though Nelson wasn’t very demonstrative with his rulings and hand signals so it wasn’t clear from ringside what exactly Nelson was doing in the ring with the fighters but there did seem to be a lot of head butts, many of them initiated by Porter’s bullrushes. The round ended with Berto cut over his left eye, the result of a butt. A ringside physician examined Berto’s eye in the fifth but let the fight go on.
Both fighters were checked before the start of the sixth as well. In between the doctor examinations, punches occasionally landed. Porter hurt Berto with a left in the eighth and Porter dropped Berto in the ninth as Berto sat against the ropes, Porter unloading on him with both hands.