Andre Berto looked darned decent, after being on the injured reserve for more than a year, on the TV opener of Showtime’s Saturday night telecast, which unfolded in Cincinnati. The Floridian, a former titlist who many thought was on a hard downward slide, didn’t look excessively rusty in getting a UD10 win over Steve Upsher.
Now, Upsher is a C plus fighter, so we won’t go overboard with praise. But the judges liked the work, to the tune of 99-91, times three.
Berto went 232-453 to 112-478 for the loser.
Berto told Jim Gray he was slightly surprised that he was so on point. He noted his shoulder held up well and that tons of sparring got him ready. He admitted that he was down during his layoff, and applauded the people who kept up his spirits. Hunter, he said, asked him to work fundamentals, not get KO happy. Next? He’d not mind rematches with some guys he lost to.
Philly’s Upsher, coming in off a two fight losing streak, was 145.5. Berto last fought in July 2013, and was shaking off a torn tendon in his right shoulder, which needed surgery. The Floridian turns 32 on Sunday, and was 148.5 on Friday. He’d lost three of his last four, to Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero and then Jesus Soto Karass.
In the first, the 29-year-old Upsher was backing up, as Berto came out pretty nasty. He then landed a right on Berto. Also, a couple hooks landed on Berto, and he shook his head no (no means yes?) once.
In the second, Berto came out double jabbing. He added a two behind it, and started the round strong, with furious intent. Left hooks for Upsher, low and high, weren’t weak. A straight right knocked Berto back a half step near the end.
In the third, Upsher moved and didn’t throw. He got tagged time and again and decided to press forward some, because he was getting eaten up. Berto threw a bombs away right, and was getting excited, maybe feeling he was into a flow.
In the fourth, Berto started with combos. Upsher decided to work more this round, and his long jab didn’t look cruddy. But he simply waiting too long in between launches for too much of most every round. Virgil Hunter, who took over for long-time corner man Tony Morgan, asked for better angles, and jabs, and constant focus.
In the fifth, we saw swelling on Upsher’s face. Berto worked backing up some, then roughed up Upsher, smacked and shoved him back. A double jab backed up Berto and we saw what could happen when Upsher concentrated on being first and imposing himself on the opponent. The Berto right uppercut landed a wee bit and you knew he was getting more so into a power punch mode. Cornerman Rod Salka told Upsher not to let Berto hurl four punch combos.
In the sixth, Upsher looked to bull Berto to the ropes but his ferocity was lacking. When he double jabbed he scored well. A left hook and right follow landed clean on Upsher late. “He’s not too far away to go,” said Hunter after the round. In the seventh, Berto was in command. He was hopping and popping, and he liked the swelling right eye on Upsher. Salka threatened to pull the plug soon.
In the eighth, Upsher landed a right hand, as it was one of his busy rounds. Salka asked him if he was alright. The trainer asked him to come forward on Berto. In the ninth, Upsher didn’t act like he knew he needed a KO to win as much as maybe you’d like. But he was trying to take it to Berto at times. In the tenth, Berto took it to Upsher, not going into a shell mode. That let Upsher tag him with a right, but Berto took the round. We went to the cards.