Saturday night was a successful one for Andre Berto, as the Haitan-American fighter once again claimed stake as a champion in the sport with a fifth round TKO over former IBF welterweight champion Jan Zaveck. Berto was coming off of a heartbreaking unanimous decision loss to Victor Ortiz this past April, a grueling fight that saw the 28-year old floored twice while surrendering his WBC welterweight crown.
A staple on HBO’s airwaves for five years running and having garnered another belt, Berto took a nice step forward following his first professional defeat. The fight saw Berto in clear command early after landing some punishing blows to the body and head before Zaveck made it a dog fight in rounds four and five.
<— Slideshow: Andre Berto pulls out a tough one in Biloxi, wins a 5th round TKO over Jan Zaveck
Just when it looked like the action was heating up, the fight would be called by Zaveck’s corner in between rounds after their fighter had visible cuts and swelling above his right eye that they felt was too severe. A win is a win and Berto’s trainer Tony Morgan was adamant on how badly he wanted his charge to make an impression this weekend.
“First time back. We wanted to make a statement,” said an admittedly exhausted Morgan. “I knew Berto was going to be faster and stronger than him and I knew we could have boxed the guy, but we were going to try and back him up and bang him out the first two rounds and then we were going to box just to see where it went in the sixth round because I felt the guy was still there. They ended up stopping it. We were actually just going to shift the tide coming into the sixth round but it looks like the damage took its toll.”
The loss to Ortiz was a huge blow but Berto showed a serious initiative in taking the fight right to Zaveck. My colleagues Ryan Maquinana and Dennis Guillermo covered Berto’s camp in San Carlos, California at the Undisputed Boxing Gym, well away from his bases in Winter Haven, Florida, and Morgan saw a different person for this particular camp.
“I think it was just the hunger,” Morgan stated. “We always were hunted for so long, that you stop being the hunted and become the hunter again. I think that, being the hunter again, flipped the switched and just brought him alive again. I knew in camp, what I was seeing in camp, everything just progressed. The way he ate, the way he trained, he was just pushing himself. I think that everything was right on point.”
One slight knock on Berto following his recent victory was the fact that he still showed some defensive flaws, as witnessed whenever Zaveck found his way to the inside while having success with some telling blows. Asked whether tightening up Andre’s defense was a priority, Morgan at first seemed to dismiss such notions.
“We’ve showed it before, that we could stink out the place. We did it with Urgano; I don’t think Urgano landed five punches the whole fight,” said Morgan, pointing to Berto’s May 2009 victory over stout Columbian banger Juan Urgano, a fight he won easily but one in which he rarely engaged his opposition.
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Just as quickly, Morgan then lowered his guard a bit and admitted that he will be looking to make a few tweaks in the next camp.
“But he definitely needs to work on some things. He can do it all, I just think he feels that when a guy can’t hurt him, sometimes he just doesn’t care. And he goes strictly into an offensive form. But he definitely needs to not get touched as much. We can do it. We’ve showed it with Urgano, that we can hit and not get hit. But we’re also fans and we try to give the fans what they want too but at the same time he has to get touched a little less,” Morgan said candidly.
After the fight Berto mentioned that he had unfinished business with Ortiz but it remains to be seen if that fight can come off in the near future. Ortiz is lined up for a September 17th showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada and a win for the champion would lead to bigger bouts while a loss would make a Berto rematch less appealing.
Whatever happens, Morgan insists that his team will be looking for the biggest fights possible.
“We’ll fight anybody. We’re not afraid of anybody. I want that fight that is going to propel us to the next level. We’re chasing the big names. I feel like he’s proven what he’s had to prove, he’s a world champion, and let’s take a shot at one of the big names.”
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]