Andre Berto may no longer be the fighter he once was, but almost always makes for entertaining fights. Saturday night was no exception, as the former welterweight titlist overcame early anxuous moments to take a 10-round decision over upset-minded Steve Upsher Chambers at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The bout appeared as the Showtime-televised opener to a tripleheader also featuring Adrien Broner and Lucas Matthysse in separate bouts.
Athleticism enabled Berto to hang towards the top of the welterweight division through his prime years. Fighting on the eve of his 31st birthday, Berto had to dig a little deeper into his bag of tricks, as Upsher was consistently able to time his punches through the first two rounds. Right hands scored for Upsher, including a counter shot that led to a round-ending volley late in round two.
With his career on the line, Berto rallied back hard in a dominant third round. Upsher wasn’t as willing to engage, though in large part due to his counterpunching style and not seeing the openings that were evident earlier on. The Pitssburgh-born, Philly-bred welterweight picked up the pace in a more competitive four, in which Upsher was more active but Berto more efficient.
Berto gained confidence as the bout moved to the middle rounds. Overhand rights in round seven drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd on hand, as Upsher - his right eye bruised and swollen - was moving a little slower and his defense less responsive.
Drama quickly dissolved during in-round action, but Upsher’s corner gave the home viewers something to talk about in between rounds eight and nine. Rennaisance man Rod Salka - last seen getting handled by Danny Garcia in their August mismatch, but who also serves as a trainer and a promoter in the Pittsburgh area - laid down the law in between rounds, rightfully demanding control of the corner.
No amount of advice could seem to help Upsher, who by the 10th and final round had his right eye swollen shut and a mouse under his left eye. The underdog managed to land enough counter shots to give his corner hope, but Berto shook off the blows and came forward to finish strong and hand Upsher (24-4-1, 6KOs) his third straight loss.
All three judges were in agreement by fights end, with scores of 99-91 across the board giving Berto his first win in just over three years. The former welterweight titlist, a member of the 2004 Haiti Olympic boxing team, moves to 29-3 (22KOs), having previously lost three of his last four contests.
The bout was his first since a stunning 12th round knockout loss to Jesus Soto Karass last July. The past 14 months were spent rehabbing an injured shoulder before returning to the ring at full strength - or at least whatever he has left.
SHO EXTREME/NON-TV RESULTS
Terrell Gausha remains unbeaten as a pro, scoring a six-round decision over Juan Carlos Rojas in a fun-filled middleweight bout. Scores were 60-54 and 59-55 (twice) in a bout that featured more action that the final tallies (while accurate) indicated.
Gausha, a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing squad, was confident enough to elect to go to war with Rojas, rather than just rely solely on his superior skillset. The latter would have been the ideal scenario for his corner, but the fighting pride of Cleveland instead opted to give the crowd a show.
The strategy had its strong points and severe flaws. Rojas was rocked midway through round two, but withstood the onslaught while shaking his head in disgust. Gausha gave the Mexican brawler just enough room to come firing back, unleashing a two-fisted assault that had the unbeaten middleweight pinned along the ropes towards rounds end.
Both fighters continued to go balls-to-the-wall, though the action occasionally strayed on the wrong side of the rules. Gausha was warned for hitting on the break, while Rojas never shied away from implementing a win-at-all-costs strategy.
The fight fittingly concluded with both fighters trading, Rojas getting in the final blows as Gausha laughed off the attack.
With the win, Gausha moves to 12-0 (6KOs).
Michael Angel Perez picked up his sixth straight win with a workmanlike 10-round decision over Jared Robinson. Scores were 97-92 (twice) and 98-91 in the SHO Extreme-televised main event.
Perez struck early, dropping Robinson (15-2, 7KOs) with a left uppercut in round two. The action remained one way, but the threat of a knockout never again surfaced. Robinson proved a tough nut to crack, as Perez was forced to push hard while also overcoming swelling around his right eye.
A low blow in round nine was the closest Perez offered to a body attack, which came in spots but not to the degree that was his signature early in his career. It will figure to return as he is now working with renowned trainer Robert Garcia, though for now "The Artist" remains a work in progress.
Perez moves to 22-1-2 (10KOs), as he goes the full 10-round distance for the fourth time in his past six fights. The lone loss of his career came at the lethal hands of Omar Figueroa when both were unbeaten in their Jan. '12 ShoBox-televised crossroads bout.
Rau'Shee Warren scored a 10-round shutout over durable Jose Luis Araiza (31-9-1, 22KOs) in the opening bout the Showtime Extreme-televised portion of the card.
Scores were 100-89 across the board in favor of Warren (12-0, 3KOs), the local favorite and three-time U.S. Olympic boxing participant who scored a knockdown in round nine.
Cleveland's Robert Easter Jr. made quick work of overmatched Robert Acevedo (13-14-3, 1KO). An uppercut put the visiting Puerto Rican down for the 10 count, with Easter Jr. (11-0, 9KOs) scoring a 1st round knockout win, just 1:22 into the contest.
Raynell Williams remained unbeaten after taking a four-round decision over Evan Woolsey. Scores were 40-36 across the board for Williams in a bout whose most significant moment was the timekeeper coming in about five seconds late to start round two.
Local favorite Jamontay Clark provided thrills for those fortunate to arrive early, scoring two knockdowns en route to a 1st round stoppage of Matt Montalvo in a battle of Ohioan welterweights.
Clark struck early, dropping Montalvo (0-1-1, 0KO) barely 20 seconds into the contest. The Bryan (OH) native beat the count, but was dropped hard midway through the round when Clark connected with a long straight left hand.
Showing a killer instinct, Clark (3-0, 3KOs) wasted no time moving in for the finish, pummeling Montalvo untin the referee jumped in to stop the contest. The official time was 2:08 of round one.
Lamont Roach Jr. was forced to overcome a stiff challenge from Rocco Espinoza (4-9, 0KOs) to remain unbeaten, taking a majority decision in the opening bout of the evening. Scores were 38-38 even and 39-37 (twice) in favor of Roach Jr. (3-0, 1KO), who was rocked midway through the 4th and final round, only to return the favor shortly before the final bell to preserve the win.
Adrien Broner vs. Emmanuel Taylor - 12 rounds, super lightweight
Lucas Matthysse vs. Roberto Ortiz - 12 rounds, super lightweight
Andre Berto UD10 Steve Upsher Chambers
Terrell Gausha UD6 Juan Carlos Rojas
Michael Perez UD10 Jared Robinson
Rau'shee Warren UD10 Jose Luis Araiza
Robert Easter Jr. KO1 Roberto Acevedo
Raynell Williams UD4 Evan Woolsey
Jamontay Clark TKO1 Matt Montalvo
Lamont Roach Jr. MD4 Rocco Espinoza
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox