All due respect must be paid to Sechew Powell, a most capable ring technician who won a ring generalship chess match against Ishe Smith. And I don't mean to cast aspersions on fleet-fisted Paulie Malignaggi, who made Edner Cherry look like a lesser grade fighter than he is on Saturday evening at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. But one must conclude that promoter Lou DiBella found himself a clear and present headliner on Saturday when welterweight Andre Berto went into Little Tyson mode on Nito Bravo.
I basically came to this conclusion at the 1:36 mark of round one, when the Floridian Berto uncorked a short, fierce left hook as Bravo advanced on him, and sent the 36-year-old Contender alumnus to the floor.
That's the sort of power that fight fans crave. The ability to rearrange brain neuron transmissions at any time, with one blow, means that you cannot take your eyes off Berto when he's at work.
You could've headed to the john during Sechew's rock-solid effort against Smith. You could've headed into the kitchen and assembled yourself a plate of nachos as Malignaggi made Cherry look like a B-minus level pugilist instead of the solid 'B' guy that he is.
But you best hold your bladder and let your stomach growl when the 23-year-old Berto is doing business.
At the Hammerstein, Bravo looked like he hadn't ever been in with any boxer that possesses the same skill set that Berto owns. Snappy jabs knocked him back a step, and a one-two that put him down a second time had him shaking his head ruefully.
Damn, he might've been thinking as he stood and readied himself for another heaping helping of abuse, Demetrius Hopkins, and Gary Balletto, and Grady Brewer and K9 Bundrage didn't do me like that.
OK, let me go into Fox News fair and balanced mode.
Yes, I know Bravo is 36, and has 13 losses in 40 pro fights…but I'm certain that Berto's talents are going to shine through as he moves up the ladder. The dude has just jumped a plateau, and when he threw a cat-quick straight right that put Bravo down for the third and final time, I was convinced, fully, without reservations.
Right or wrong, I'm from the Merchant School of thought when choosing my picks and pans, and sorting out the future stars from the ho-hummers.
I have an appreciation for technical standouts, but I confess a true yen for the guys who exemplify 'explosivity.'
Berto has the kind of innate punching power—in much the same way a Major League level pitcher is born with an arm that is superlatively live—that lends itself to 'explosivity.'
And perhaps just as importantly, he owns the mindset that is necessary to embody 'explosivity.'
Berto demands a KO of himself when he gloves up, and has now notched 13 straight stops. Bravo isn't a frequent KO victim, let's remember, and neither was previous belt-notch Miguel Figueroa.
Am I getting ahead of myself? That has to be considered.
Max Kellerman wondered if Berto can import these same characteristics and realize the same outcomes when he moves from the Bravos of the fight world to the Clotteys, Collazos and Baldomirs. Me, if I'm DiBella, I put him in with any of those cats next weekend.
“He looks against this level of opponent a combination of Mike Tyson and Roy Jones,” Kellerman said after Berto sledgehammered Bravo. “The question is how much Evander Holyfield and Rocky Marciano he has. You find that out against the tougher guys.”
SPEEDBAG The ring announcer at the Hammerstein, David Diamonte, has a heckuva voice, doesn't he? I'm still not sold on the guy, though; not sure the dreads are the right look for him, and his vocal styling seems a bit affected. And what's with the habit of repeating the last name of the fighter, for emphasis, at the end of his intro? OK, hey, it's not an easy job, I get that. But then our guy called Bruce Strauss “Bruce 'the Moose' Strauss” as he gave a shoutout to all the ex-pugilists dotting the arena. Any true fight fan knows the lovable loser was known as the Mouse.
—Speaking of Strauss, he made it to NYC for Bosfest 2007, the benefit roast that took place on Thursday evening at Hurley's Saloon in the theater district. That wouldn't have been possible without the dogged work of one Mike Marley, the veteran fight writer who conceived of the benefit for fight agent Johnny Bos, who's been hit by health woes. Hats off the Marley for taking the time and energy and heading up this effort that put a few bucks in Bos' coffer.