The main event of Friday night’s “Premiere Boxing Champions” card on Spike TV pitted former welterweight titlist Andre Berto against former title challenger Josesito Lopez. The crowd at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California was biased for Lopez, the local boy from nearby Riverside. Berto fought off boos from the crowd throughout, but he would have the last laugh.
Berto’s trainer, the great Virgil Hunter, wanted his charge to take his time and ease into the fight – no brawling. The Haiti native, now living in Florida, seemed to take the first round off, allowing Lopez to get off to the body and outwork him.
In the second round he began throwing a stiff jab, controlling the distance and frustrating his opponent. As the rounds progressed, the hand speed advantage of the former titlist became increasingly apparent. Lopez, spurred on by the partisan crowd, never stopped coming forward and tried his best to make it an ugly fight. His camp knew that their opponent had been lured into brawls several times in the past and that this was their best chance for victory. But to Berto’s credit, he remained focused throughout and executed his trainer’s game plan flawlessly.
Lopez began getting dirty in the middle rounds and was docked a point in the fifth for holding and hitting. By this point, he was sporting a noticeable welt under his right eye and looking beat up. A minute into the sixth, a great combination from Berto dropped Lopez, who beat the count but was on unsteady legs. Berto immediately pounced on his man and landed another straight right to the temple that put Lopez on his butt. He was clearly in bad shape, and the ref didn’t even bother counting. It was a terrific, TV-friendly TKO win to closeout a night of knockouts for the second card in the Premiere Boxing Champions series.
Lopez dropped to 33-7 (19KO) and has now lost 4 of his last 8 fights, while Berto improved to 30-3 (23KO) and looked more disciplined than ever. With manager Al Haymon representing several fighters in the stacked welterweight division and having so many TV slots on various networks, Berto figures to be headlining in a significant bout later this year. Any combination of Berto-Thurman-Porter would surely be welcomed by fight fans everywhere.
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