BOXING

Porter Earns Thurman Rematch, Valdez Passes Tough Test

Shawn Porter Stops Andre Berto, Aims For Keith Thurman Again

Shawn Porter and Andre Berto were two former welterweight titleholders who needed to win — badly — if they were going to still be considered contenders at 147.

Porter remains in the running, heading toward a rematch with Keith Thurman. He was far more relentless and far less shopworn, defeating Andre Berto via ninth-round technical knockout.

Porter likes to pressure his opponents to the ropes, where he traps them and punishes them with a suffocating, mauling attack. He found early success with that approach in Round 2, hurting Berto with about a minute left. Berto complained that he was being butted on the inside. It was true; Porter actually came out of that clash of heads worse for wear, cut and bleeding.

His head wasn’t his only weapon, though. Porter landed a right hand in an exchange, dropping Berto with seconds to go. Berto rose but was soon in for more, absorbing a barrage of body shots in the third. Berto tried to fight his way off the ropes in the fourth, landing a pair of rights, and then another clash of heads left Porter with another cut over his other eye, as well as a gash on Berto’s eyelid.

 

 

The fight seemed to slow in the sixth and seventh. But if Berto thought he was going to be able to get back in the fight, he learned otherwise when Porter got back in gear in Round 8. Berto tried to hold but couldn’t stop Porter from throwing, pounding the body and hoping the head would follow.

The problem for Berto wasn’t just that his head would follow, but also that Porter’s head would lead. In the ninth, Porter’s head collided with Berto’s, and then he followed with a right hand. Berto’s knees buckled and he teetered toward the ropes. The referee called it a knockdown, ruling that the ropes held Berto up.

“You want to continue?” the referee asked.

“Yeah, but he’s head butting me,” Berto responded. 

Porter continued to attack. Berto wobbled into the ropes again, and this time the referee had seen enough.

“We had a good, competitive fight until the head butts got a little too much for me, started shaking me up a little bit,” Berto said afterward. Porter apologized. “I got to clean up those head butts,” he said. “Those head clashes was nothing but us fighting, going at it, doing the best we could to win. My intention is never to use my head as a weapon.” Porter improved to 27-2-1 with 17 knockouts.

He is now the mandatory challenger for one of the two belts held by Keith Thurman. They fought last year, with Thurman winning a close decision. Porter’s only other defeat came to Kell Brook back in 2014. His only losses are against fighters who presently have world titles. That made his fight with Berto all the more important.

Berto, after all, hasn’t been much of a force in the 147-pound division in six years. His critics often believed he was overpaid and largely untested. Berto’s first world title reign ended in a war with Victor Ortiz in 2011, and he soon went on to lose hard-fought battles with Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto-Karass. He came back and eventually was handpicked for Floyd Mayweather’s final fight.

Berto has now lost five of his past nine fights. His record dropped to 31-5 with 24 KOs. He’ll likely have an excuse in his mind, blaming the head butts for contributing to the loss and believing that he can still fight on.

For now, however, he’s going to relax. “I had a long training camp,” Berto said. “I want to spend time with the family, enjoy the fruits of my labor.”  

Oscar Valdez Gets Biggest Win Yet, Outpoints Miguel Marriaga

Oscar Valdez fended off a stiffer challenger than he’d been accustomed to facing, defending his featherweight world title with a unanimous decision over Miguel Marriaga. This was a step up in competition, and Valdez rose to the occasion. He needed to. Valdez landed right hands early, but Marriaga responded with a good counter. Marriaga’s moments led Valdez to change his approach; Valdez recognized that he wasn’t going to be able to blow Marriaga out the way he had other opponents. He still threw hard shots, and he still landed them, but that was happening less often in the opening rounds.  

 

In fact, Valdez respected Marriaga enough that he was being backed up in Round 3. Marriaga was landing, and Valdez decided to fight fire with fire. And then he made a wise adjustment — boxing and dodging shots, then making Marriaga pay. Valdez took control of the fight, though he wasn’t going completely untouched, as evidenced by the blood he spit out in his corner after Round 6.

Marriaga began to close the distance, though, and that led to a firefight in the final rounds. He landed a couple of good right hands on Valdez in Round 10. Valdez responded with a left hook that dropped Marriaga, who got up at eight but hadn’t fully recovered. Valdez couldn’t put him away, though, and the battle continued in Round 11.

“You have this fight won. If you’re not going to work, don’t just stay there,” Valdez’s trainer told him before the 12th round. “Box him.”

But Valdez wanted to work and wanted to send a message. He ended the fight on a strong note rather than trying to run out the clock.

The final scores were 119-108 (11 rounds for Valdez, 1 round for Marriaga, with an extra point deducted for the knockdown), 118-109 (10 rounds to 2) and 116-111 (eight rounds to four). The fight was more competitive than those two widest scorecards would otherwise indicate.

Valdez is now 22-0 with 19 KOs. This was the second defense of the vacant world title he won last July, and it should mark a transition toward tougher opposition. That would help Valdez stand out in a 126-pound weight class full of talent, including Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton, Abner Mares, Lee Selby, Scott Quigg and JoJo Diaz.

Marriaga is now 25-2 with 21 KOs. His only other loss also came in a shot at a featherweight title, against Nicholas Walters in 2015.

 

Gilberto Ramirez Returns From Injury, Shuts Out Max Bursak

It took a year for Gilberto Ramirez to make the first defense of his super middleweight title, but his reign continued the way it started — with a shutout victory.

Ramirez won pretty much every second of every round against Max Bursak, and the scorecards reflected that. All three judges had it 120-106, 12 rounds to none, with two additional points deducted from Bursak for holding in Round 5 and Round 11.

The taller Ramirez used his jab and combination punching to keep Bursak at a distance, changed angles to make Bursak reset, and even outworked Bursak when he got inside. Ramirez isn’t an overly powerful puncher, and Bursak is a sturdy fighter, so the fight wound up resembling a one-sided sparring session between a fighter who never needed to get out of second gear (Ramirez) and a fighter who never could get out of first (Bursak).

Ramirez moved to 35-0 with 24 KOs. He won his world title a year and 13 days before this bout, out-boxing and outworking Arthur Abraham. He was supposed to make his first defense last July but instead had to sit on the sideline with an injury, tearing a tendon in one of his fingers while sparring.

Ramirez called out middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin afterward. He’s more likely going to fight mandatory challenger Jesse Hart next.

Bursak is now 33-5-1 with 15 KOs.

 

Jessie Magdaleno Makes Quick Work of Adeilson Dos Santos

It didn’t take long for Jessie Magdaleno to win his first defense of the junior featherweight world title he picked up from Nonito Donaire last year. His opponent, Adeilson Dos Santos, couldn’t make it past dos rounds.

 

The beginning of the end came when Magdaleno landed a right hook over Dos Santos’ left. Dos Santos stumbled back, then went down as Magdaleno approached. That was the first of two knockdowns. The second came as the result of Magdaleno landing a left hand, a right, and then a right behind Dos Santos’ head. Dos Santos went down, and the referee called the fight off without giving him a chance to get up.

Magdaleno is now 25-0 with 18 KOs. He called out Guillermo Rigondeaux, Moises Flores and Rey Vargas in his post-fight interview.

Dos Santos is now 18-3 with 14 KOs.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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