Andre Berto looked to reinject some energy into his career on Saturday night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Showtime. He took on Mexican ex-journeyman turned contender Jesus Soto Karass in a welterweight scrap, and impressed with his gutty effort after hurting his right shoulder in the fourth. Berto, working mostly one-handed from then on, knocked down Soto Karass in the 11th, and it looked like that re-injection would be summoned, perhaps, in stunning fashion. But in round 12, down went Berto. A left hook, short, landed on the chin. Berto beat the count, but was on jelly legs, and the ref halted the event. The winner slipped a jab, dipped right, and came up ripping the left hook.
The time of the ending was 48 seconds of the final round and there will be questions attached to Berto, not about his guts, but about his future. Does he have one in boxing?
Berto went 223-608 to 390-1324 for the victor.
The judges saw a split draw, one for Berto, one for the Mexican and one a straight draw, at the time of the stoppage, for the record.
After, Soto Karass (landing a right, in Tom Casino photo, above) was asked by Jim Gray if he thought he needed a KO after he was knocked down. No, he said, he thought it was a low blow. His corner told him to keep working, and he complied. Asked about what adjustments he's made to up his game, SK said he is now totally dedicated to training. The left hook to end it, he said, was what he promised to do, KO Berto. And next for the winner? He said he wants to thank the fans there, and will let Golden Boy plot his course.
Gray spoke to Berto. He said he thought he tore the shoulder out of its socket around the fourth. He thanked the fans in San Antonio and fans around the world. He said of course he elected to continue, as his parents come from Haiti, where life is hard. He noted that his left bicep put off a Ortiz fight, not a right shoulder injury. He looked despondent, and trainer Virgil Hunter tenderly attended to him after the KO.
The Floridian Berto (age 29; 28-2 entering) was 161 on fight night, while the Cali resident SK (30; 27-8-3 entering) was 164.5 pounds. Berto came in losing two of his last three scraps, dropping a UD12 to Victor Ortiz, bouncing back with a W over Selcuk Aydin and then dropping a UD12 to Ghost Guerrero last November. We wondered if a switch from Tony Morgan to Hunter would change his luck?
The vacant NABF welter title was up for grabs.
In the first, SK started fast. A right buzzed Berto and he fought off the ropes. He was outworked in the round, no doubt.
In the second, SK ripped to the body with both hands, while Berto worked the jab more. A counter right buzzed SK at 1:30. Berto's confidence picked up. He came up with right hands a couple times, to good effect.
In the third, Berto's hand speed stood out. He landed clean power shots but ate some, too. A few uppercuts landed on his chin.
In the fourth, a right cross landed on Berto and buzzed him a tiny bit. He stood on the ropes, against his corner's advice.
In the fifth, Paul Malignaggi noticed that Berto's right shoulder might be hurt. He shook it out a few times. He missed a launch and fell to the mat at 1:50. His shoulder was hurt and put off a fight with Victor Ortiz a few years ago. "Be great tonight for me?" Hunter said to Berto on the stool.
In the sixth, Berto mostly used his left. In the seventh, Berto tossed a couple right, and his confidence was back up some. SK's right eye was a bit swollen. In the eighth, it was toe to toe. Berto's right eye was swollen but he could see. SK threw about 130 punches, after throwing 140 the round before. Hard to beat that...In the ninth, the pace was still rigorous.
In the 10th, SK got a break, for a Berto low blow, at the 1:55 mark. Berto was throwing hard, still mostly lefts. "He has nothing left," Hunter told Berto after the round. In the 11th, a left hook to the body put down SK. He said it was a low blow. It wasn't that low, it was on the belt line, replays showed. SK came back, though and landed low and high on Berto, whose mouth hung open, bloody. In the 12th, down went Berto. The ref halted it.