By Francisco Salazar
Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California - The deck was stacked against Andre Berto on Friday night.
A majority of media picked him to lose against Josesito Lopez, while some wondered whether wars against Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero had taken their toll. Not to mention Lopez was fighting near his hometown of Riverside.
Just when it looked as though Berto's career was on the ropes (literally), he was able to salvage it by scoring a knockout win.
Before a raucous crowd, Berto stopped Lopez in the sixth round at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. With the win, Berto goes to 30-3, 23 KOs.
Lopez entered the fight against Berto having won three fights in a row, but Berto was a significant step up in opposition. Berto was coming off a one-sided unanimous decision win over Steve Upsher Chambers on September 6.
Lopez started out well from the opening bell, initiating the exchanges and landing left hooks to the body of Berto. Lopez was also able to split the guard of Berto with uppercuts to the head.
Undaunted, Berto began to let his hands go by the third round. He was able to land more right hands to the head, even mixing in a hook or punch to the body.
Lopez was finding success from the outside, utilizing head movement that was hardly done in any of his high-profile fights. But Berto continued to throw and land with more purpose with each passing moment.
In the sixth round, Berto dropped Lopez with a right hand to the top of the head. Lopez stayed down and got up at the count of nine. When the action resumed, Berto dropped Lopez with a right to the chin. Rather than administer a standing eight-count, referee Raul Caiz, Jr. waved the fight over at 1:03.
Lopez drops to 33-7, 19 KOs.
Heavyweight Gerald Washington (16-0, 11 KOs) dropped Jason Gavern (26-19-4, 11 KOs) three times in route to a one-sided eight round unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Washington, 79-70, 79-70, and 78-71.
In an all-out brawl, heavyweight Chris Arreola won an eight round unanimous decision over Curtis Harper.
Arreola had not fought since losing by knockout in the sixth round to Bermane Stiverne on May 10. He was on the mend during that time due to an operation that was performed on his left elbow.
Since Arreola still fought the better opposition, and he was fighting near his hometown of Riverside, most thought the Mexican-American would have a quick night.
Fans got their wish when Arreola dropped Harper with a counter right hand about midway through the first round. Arreola pounded away, almost getting referee Ray Corona to stop the bout near the end of the round.
While Arreola continued to land punches, Harper found success as well. He was able to land lead or counter right hands to the head during the first half of the fight.
Harper's punch output dropped dramatically, looking to land one big punch after Arreola initiated the action. Arreola landed the more telling punches in the final two rounds, even though it hand looked Arreola had hurt his right hand midway through the fight.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Arreola, 78-73, 77-74, and 76-75.
Arreola goes to 36-4, 31 KOs, while Harper drops to 12-4, 8 KOs.
In the opening bout of the Spike TV telecast, welterweight contender Shawn Porter knocked out Erick Bone in the fifth round.
Porter was originally scheduled to fight Roberto Garcia in a 12 round bout. However, Garcia withdrew from the fight when he was reportedly dehydrated and suffered from B12 poisoning. Bone took the fight on one day's notice, although reports were he was scheduled to fight in April.
After a slow first round, Porter began to find his rhythm in the second round. He began to land with more regularity to the head of Bone with counters and hooks. Porter pressed the action in the third round, putting Bone on the defensive.
Undaunted, Bone came on in the fourth round. Bone was able to counter Porter at times, leading to crowd-pleasing exchanges between the two.
Porter began to find success in the fifth round, attacking the body of Bone. Midway through the round, Porter pinned Bone in a corner, landing to the body, which dropped Bone to a knee. Bone was able to get up, but was dropped with a combination to the head. Bone struggled to get up, but was counted out by referee Jack Reiss at 2:30.
Bantamweight Hanzel Martinez (21-2, 17 KOs) won an eight round unanimous decision over German Meraz (48-33-1, 26 KOs). Both fighters had their moments during the fight, but the action slowed as both clinched or played to the crowd. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Martinez, 79-73, 79-73, and 78-74.
Junior middleweight Oscar Molina (11-0, 9 KOs), who resides in nearby Norwalk knocked out Jose Leal (9-7-1, 6 KOs) in the fifth round. Molina dominated the action until Leal's corner threw in the towel, prompting referee Ray Corona to stop the bout at 2:15.
Super middleweight Lanell Bellows (11-1-1, 8 KOs) won a six round unanimous decision over Juan Carlos Rojas (7-10-1, 5 KOs). All three judges scored the bout 60-53 in favor of Bellows.
In the opening bout of the 'Premier Boxing Champions' card, bantamweight Tugstsogt Nyambayan of Mongolia was successful in his professional debut, knocking out Gabriel Braxton (2-9-1, 1 KO) at 2:10 of the first round.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing