We often take shots at the sport of boxing as a whole, because of the silly shenanigans, often perpetrated by the men in suits, rather than the men in shorts, that we take in that leave us disgusted. But then we watch a spirited scrap like the Andre Berto/Luis Collazo fight which took place at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi on Saturday evening, and we are reminded of the reasons why we are attracted to the sport of kings.
Both men worked their tail off, and gave more than their share of blood and sweat for the fans in attendance and those watching on HBO.
After twelve tight rounds, the judges spoke: Bill Clancy saw it 116-111, while Gary Ritter and Larry Ingall saw it 114-113, in favor of Berto. Berto exulted after the decision, and Collazo accepted the call with grace.
Berto’s work in the last round took it for him, and he must be applauded for digging into the depth of his heart to summon that last bit of reserve. Berto landed more (266-222) while Collazo threw more (812-682) according to Compubox. TSS had no problem with either fighter having his hand raised at the end, or both.
Berto’s WBC welterweight title was up for grabs. He had a 23-0 record, with 19 KOs, coming in. Collazo was 29-3, with 14 KOs.
In the first, Collazo hit Berto with a straight left that almost put him down. He swarmed him, but Berto got his wits about him. Berto then turned it around with a minute left, with a sharp counter right, and had Collazo trapped on the ropes. Berto looked a little anxious, and overeager over all.
In round two, Collazo’s one-two was working early. Despite his trainer Tony Morgan’s between rounds admonition, Berto kept on backing up straight back, instead of moving laterally. Berto landed with two rights that told Collazo he couldn’t sleep on the Floridian.
In the third, Collazo got back to work, getting in Berto’s face, staying close and staying busy. Berto worked the right to good effect, but Collazo was slipping adeptly. He tossed an uppercut that Berto felt, and Berto was open for that, because too often he was squared up. The crowd loved the trading, and the fact that both men wanted to stay close, and bang.
In the fourth, the ref took a point from Berto for holding. It was not the right call. Overeager ref, putting himself too far into the action.
In round five, Berto was moving more, something he started in the fourth. Wise move.
In the sixth, Berto was moving early but fell back into his trade mentality later.
In the seventh, Collazo was more active, working harder to stay close to Berto. But he looked tired, and his hands were at his sides. Was he trying to lure Berto in? Berto looked wary and didn’t take advantage. There was a slice on Collazo’s left eyelid.
In the eighth, Collazo complained about a kidney punch. His will was crumbling, it looked like. Berto’s energy was ample at this juncture. His body work he’d dropped in throughout was paying big dividends.
In the ninth, Collazo was busier. But Berto worked the jab a little, and the right. The Collazo started that straight left, and had Berto right in front of him, so he could swipe him with rights.
In the tenth, the two were toe to toe. This wasn’t a smart strategy for Berto. The champ wasn’t slipping well, and he was loading up and missing badly. He looked beat, but Collazo wasn’t fresh as a daisy either.
In round 11, Collazo was busy, showing the judges that he wanted it, badly. He was still moving his head to avoid Berto’s launches, and he deserved credit from the judges for his defense. He did eat a right at the ten second mark that might’ve tilted the round to Berto.
In round 12, both men showed they knew this was the 12th. But Berto stepped on the gas a little harder early. He kept it up, and we thought Collazo might drop. He didn’t. We’d go to the cards.
After, Berto said he'd welcome a rematch, and that he knew he'd need to win the last round to take it. Collazo was classy after, and said he'd like to do it again. "There was no way in hell it was 116-111, it should have been 114-113 all the way around," he said. TSS tips the proverbial cap to both men for working their butts off, for their class and especially Collazo's for his grace in defeat .He is now 0-for-3 against ultra marquee names, having lost to Ricky Hatton Hatton, Shane Mosley and Berto, but his skill cannot be demeaned. And I admit that I'd like to see him prevail in one of these big bouts, to reward him for his effort.
One after-effect that will be interesting to see play out: the call to replace Berto's amateur coach Morgan with a big-name trainer will now be intensified. Will Bert shrug it off, and stick with his boy, or make a tough call?