For reasons that stretch beyond the obvious, the main event was a must win for both Andre Berto and Shawn Porter. Berto entered as the A-side, but an underdog against Porter, who last fought in June, losing by narrow decision to current Unified Welterweight Champion Keith Thurman, who was in attendance.
Berto knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch of their 2011 encounter in his most recent outing last April, which came after getting decisioned by Floyd Mayweather in September 2015.
With a record of 31-4-0 (24 KO’s) and a 34th birthday just month away, this was just about it for the 2004 Olympian.
Porter has had a better run, with wins over Adrien Broner, Paul Malignaggi and Devon Alexander, and only falling to arguably the two best welterweights in Thurman and Kell Brook, the current IBF Champion.
Porter, 29, also needed the victory because a shot at Thurman’s WBC title is on the line. He just didn’t need it as badly as Berto, who lost via TKO in round nine.
If the fight was a video game, referee Mark Nelson couldn’t have hit “pause” more than he did, disrupting the main event feel and disgruntling the rapid Brooklyn boxing fans in attendance.
But on one hand, all is understood, because Porter and Berto kept clashing heads, drawing blood flow from each combatant, ensuing a classic welterweight war.
Classic Shawn Porter.
“I’ve got to clean up those head butts,” he offered after the win, in extremely likable fashion. “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,” he added. “This was a just very hard fought battle by both of us and I’m blessed to get the victory.”
As a result, the former champion Berto drops to 31-5 and in limbo, while Porter rises to 27-2-1 (17 KO’s) and a future shot at the Thurman rematch, who he repeatedly said he wants next.
Berto was gracious in defeat, but he didn’t lie either.
“I have to give him credit, but he’s a rough fighter,” said Berto. “He has great skills, but at the same time he’s going to be rough and try to handle me anyway he can. I got a lot of head butts, and he did too.
“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,” he added.
Before the Porter-Berto bout, Jermell Charlo and Charles Hatley had some bad blood to iron out, though it wasn’t literal like the main event.
Hatley’s team had been spirited, amped, and vibrant. After 17 months he was finally getting his WBC Super Welterweight Title shot, which he wanted much sooner as evident by his run-in on Charlo’s post-fight interview after a May 2016 knockout against John Jackson.
At Thursday’s press conference, Hatley’s team was emphatically clapping their hands every time Hatley was mentioned, prompting laughter from Team Charlo. The two squads even had to be separated after the presser, where words were exchanged by an elevator on the second floor of the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott.
Fast forward about 57 hours, and Charlo knocked out Hatley with a monstrous straight right hand.
In fact, Hatley (26-2-1, 18 KO’s) was down for a while, as medical crews rushed to the ring to provide care. It was an easy night for Charlo, who landed over double the punches and won all five scored rounds before the sixth-round knockout.
“Hatley was moving around a lot, he was trying to engage and I tried to tell him to come fight,” said Charlo. “When he finally got in there, that’s when I got him out.”
Prior to the co-featured bout on Showtime, Brooklyn native Amanda Serrano (32-1-1, 24 KO’s) became the first female and first Puerto Rican to win a world title in five different weight classes, capturing the vacant WBO World Female Bantamweight Title in an eight-round stoppage over Dominican-born Dahiana Santana (35-9-0, 14 KO’s).
Serrano entered with a supreme level of confidence, even referring to Santana as an “okay” fighter at Thursday’s press conference. Upon hearing the official TKO announcement, Serrano broke down, embracing longtime trainer Jordan Maldonado for what felt like an eternity.
“It means everything to me,” said a tearful Serrano after her landmark achievement. “We worked so hard for this moment. I could retire today, I just started.”
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• Jose Miguel Borrego (12-0, 11 KO’s) def. John Depperdang (10-3, 9 KO’s) – TKO R7
• Joseph Williams (12-0, 8 KO’s) def. Felipe Romero (19-13-1, 13 KO’s) – TKO R3
• Julian Sosa (8-0-1, 3 KO’s) def. Emmanuel Valdez (3-4, 3 KO’s) – TKO R3
• Kenny Robles (2-0, 1 KO) def. Latorie Woodberry (1-4-1, 0 KO’s) – TKO R1