Berto Wins in Fierce Battle with Collazo
By Paul Strauss, photo by Naoki Fukuda - Undoubtedly, fans at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Bilox, MS are still arguing about who won tonight's hard fought battle. The official decision had two judges giving the decision to Berto by one point, which meant Berto needed to win the last round to win the fight. The third judge was Bill Clancy, who must have forgotten his spectacles, because he scored the fight 116-111 for Berto.
Article posted on 18.01.2009
The fireworks started with the first bell. Both fighters were throwing hard shots. Collazo appeared to be the bigger of the two fighters, and seemed more comfortable and better balanced. Berto seemed tight and over eager. His shots were wild. After a few wild swings that Collazo ducked under, Berto carelessly moved straight back just as Collazo fired a beautiful straight left. The southpaw's big punch appeared to have landed to the forehead area of Berto's head, but it was enough to send him staggering backward. By the time he reached the ropes, he had regained his balance, so there was no knockdown. But, he was hurt.
In the second round, Berto boxed a bit more, using quick feet and hands to land combinations, and then move out of danger. Collazo remained poised and attempted to draw Berto inside. In the third round, Collazo's plan seemed to be working again, as Berto would get tagged with a jab or straight left, and then react recklessly throwing wild punches and languishing on the inside where Collazo would then do his best work. Berto would get flustered and hold. He had already been warned by referee Keith Hughes about holding.
In the fourth round, the referee did stop the action and penalized Berto one point for holding. It seemed a bit unusual, because Collazo was probably holding just as much at that point, but Berto was the one who had previously be warned. Max Kellerman commented that usually a referee will not penalize a fighter for holding alone, but will do so if the fighter is holding and hitting. Harold Lederman offered his opinion that a hurt fighter is generally allowed to hold, and Berto had been hurt in the first round. Lennox Lewis seconded that opinion, saying, "It's part of the game."
In the fifth round, there was a clash of heads. Berto sustained a diagonal cut above his right eye. It was not the type of cut that usually causes problems. It was more vertical than horizontal. Collazo's trainer also commented in the corner, "We've got a cut here." So, the beginnings of a cut also started for Luis Collazo. By the seventh round it became a bad cut, as a glancing jab really opened it up.
The fifth through the eighth rounds had Berto jabbing more and staying on the outside. He would dart in and land a combination and then move out of range before Collazo could land much in retaliation. Every once in while though, Berto would linger on the inside, and Collazo would score with a variety of punches, and duck under most of Berto's wild swings. By the end of the eighth, Berto was also landing some hard lefts to the body, especially the kidney area. Collazo seemed to want to alert the referee that he was getting hit with an illegal punch.
In the ninth, Collazo once again turned things back his way. Berto was gassed a bit, and would linger on the inside again, but he was afraid to hold because of the danger of losing another penalty point. Collazo made good use of the opportunity, and took Berto to school on proper infighting. Berto proved to be a willing target with arms extended, body squared up, and little head movement. The tenth was more of the same. Berto seemed very tired. When Collazo was walking him down, Berto was too tired to side step, and he lost his balance and fell to the canvas.
The fans started chanting for their fighter like the action on a tennis court. First the ball would be on this side; then the other side. Back and forth they would chant ........i.e. Berto, then Luis, then Berto and so forth. Both fighters were reaching down for that second wind. Berto tried to step things up, but he couldn't keep from reverting back to the wildness he displayed earlier. Collazo was ducking under most of the hard stuff. Berto just couldn't get it in his head to throw more to the body and chest of Collazo, and let him duck into them.
Both fighters were told by their corners after the eleventh that they needed the last round to win the fight. Both came out winging their punches, but it appeared Berto's body shots had finally started taking their toll on Collazo's energy. He just didn't have much left to muster offensively. Berto was also very tired, but appeared able to drag up enough to make one last effort to win the round, which he did.
After the final bell, the ring quickly filled, and each fighter was hoisted on to the shoulders on their respective entourages. Each man, along with his corner, obviously thought he had won the fight. A one point victory in either fighter's favor would have been palatable for most observers, but judge Clancy's 116-111 for Berto seemed outrageous, especially with the one point penalty deduction.
In post fight interviews, both fighters were very gracious, and acknowledged the toughness of their opponent. Berto quickly answered that he would love to have a rematch with Collazo, which Collazo of course seconded. Collazo didn't whine about losing the decision, but he did mention Clancy's scorecard total, which he felt was ridiculous.
A few things came out of this great fight. First, Collazo knew before the fight that Berto had a tendency to get wild when caught with a punch. Second, Berto needs work on how to properly fight on the inside. Third, Berto is a small welterweight, which might prove to be more and more of a disadvantage to him as he continues to face tougher and tougher opponents.
Let's hope there's a rematch, but don't count on it, at least not right away. Berto's people won't be too excited about going that route unless the money is very good. Right now though, Berto would have his hands full with many of the other top welterweights. It's doubtful he could beat Margarito or Mosley. Williams would be much too big for him, and Cotto would be too strong. His best bet might be a rematch with Collazo, which wouldn't be bad at all!
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