Hello all. This will be my first article on this site, so I feel a little introduction is needed. My name is Tim Byrne, I'm from New Jersey but now attend school in Vermont. I have been an amateur boxer for quite some time which I feel gives me a huge edge in writing about the sweet science: I actually know what’s going on. Unlike Max Kellerman and 99% of the boxing writers out there, I know what it is like to get in the ring and get hit, knocked down, knocked out etc. etc. I am also a frequent contributor to eastsideboxing.com and doghouseboxing.com.
Pure Boxing at its Finest
Last night saw Andre Berto (23-0) from Winter Haven, FL face off against the durable Stevie Forbes (33-7) from Portland, OR in a 12 round WBC welterweight title match in Los Angeles. Andre Berto won his WBC belt from Miguel Rodriguez in Tennessee on June 21 of this year and is regarded as the hottest prospect in boxing's deepest division. Stevie Forbes lost his last fight to Oscar De La Hoya on May 3 of this year and is known for his slick, pure boxing style.
The fight was a spectacle which is rarely seen in the boxing world today: two "pure boxers" using their craft to out-point the opponent. A fight like this would bore any MMA fan to death (most likely), yet any boxing fan who knows the sport would have enjoyed the event immensely.
The clear favorite in the battle was Andre Berto; with his blinding handspeed and philly-style defense, Berto can give many elite fighters a run for their money. Stevie Forbes, however, was not content in playing the contender role and used his skill and experience to confuse Berto (for the first three rounds, anyway).
Heres how the fight went down:
Round 1) Forbes is surprising with his ring smarts and leaves Berto scratching his head between rounds. The slick, experienced boxer finds ways to pivot and pot-shot his opponent. 10 - 9 Forbes
Round 2) Berto remains a primarily defensive fighter while Forbes continues to use pot-shots and clean counterpunches to impress the judges. 20-18 Forbes
Round 3) Forbes now unleashes his offensive arsenal, no longer pot-shotting and counter punching but landing effective combinations. Berto begins to fight with desperation but cannot figure out the durable Forbes. 30-27 Forbes
Round 4) Berto finally finds his grove; using his favorite straight right/right upprcut combo, Berto puts Forbes on the defensive by using his jab and keeping his right hand higher in his philly-shell defense. 39-37 Forbes
Round 5) Berto falls more and more into his usual fighting pace and consistently beats Forbes to the punch. 48 - 47 Forbes
Round 6) Forbes begins to realize the obvious truth: he is the older, smaller, weaker, slower fighter. He adopts a brawler mentality in hopes he will confuse Berto. He is marginally successful, but he ultimately cannot overcome Berto's blinding hand speed. 57-57 Draw
Round 7) Manny Stewart says it best: Berto is forcing Forbes to fight at a much faster pace then he wants. Berto continues to dominate with brilliant defense and crisp counter punching. 66-67 Berto
Round 8) Berto's brilliant defense continues to set up his explosive offense. Forbes shows heart, skill and experience but simply cannot beat the younger, stronger fighter. 75-77 Berto
Round 9) More of the same from Berto. Forbes begins to slow down both offensively and defensively. 84-87 Berto
Round 10) Berto shows dominance throughout the round, Forbes seems “content” with hanging in until the final bell (much like he did with De La Hoya). 93-97 Berto
Round 11) Forbes makes the round close by adopting a brawler mentality, but Berto shows unusual ring generalship for a fighter his age and uses the jab to contain Forbes. 102-107 Berto.
Round 12) Berto has his most dominant round of the night, unleashing multiple +5 punch combinations and showing great poise. Forbes shows the heart of a champion but ultimately falls short.
My Scorecard: 117-111 Berto.
Official Score Cards: 118-109 118-109 116-111
Both fighters showed us why they are considered upper-level and why they deserve a spot on an HBO broadcast. Ironically, ‘pure boxing’ seems to be a lost technique in the sport of boxing today. It is always exciting to see two fighters of this caliber and class fight for the world title, but their styles make it that much better and seem to mesh together throughout the night.
Forbes was an opponent; a formidable opponent, but an opponent nonetheless. Stevie Forbes would be too heavy if he were a lightweight, let alone a Welterweight; but his role as “gatekeeper” to the division will probably be with us for quite some time.
Andre Berto passes this “gatekeeper” test with flying colors and has an extremely bright future ahead of him. Could he take on Cotto or Margarito or Williams at this point in his career? Probably not, as he and his promoters willingly admit. Given time, though, I believe Andre Berto will become a full fighter with multiple dimensions and multiple memorable fights.
Larry Merchant needs to retire. I think that speaks for itself.
Comments are welcome – thanks for reading.