Shawn Porter scored a ninth round stoppage of Andre Berto to become the WBC's mandatory challenger to unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, presented by Premier Boxing Champions, Saturday night on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
With the convincing victory, Porter potentially earns a rematch with Thurman, who he narrowly lost to last June in a 2016 Fight of the Year candidate at Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.
The welterweight matchup was a rough and tumble affair from the opening bell. Porter (27-2-1, 17 KOs) barreled forward to smother the offense of Berto (31-5, 24 KOs), pounding Berto's body at close range. A deep gash opened over Porter's left eye from an accidental headbutt in the second, and another opened over his right eye just two rounds later. Porter's constant aggressiveness and effective body work seemed to frustrate Berto, who struggled to stay off the ropes.
An odd series of events unfolded in the opening minute of the ninth round. With Berto unsteady on his feet following another clash of heads, Porter pounced and floored the former champ with a left hook for his second knockdown of the fight. Berto got up, but Porter continued to connect with Berto against the ropes and referee Mark Nelson waved off the contest at 1:31. At the time of the stoppage, Porter had out-landed Berto 60-12 over the final two rounds.
"I have to clean up those head butts," Porter said. "We tried to use the whole ring, but sometimes in the heat of the battle stuff happens. I'm a fighter and Mr. Berto is a fighter as well, those head butts were just the two of us going in and fighting.
"I thought I fought smart tonight. I thought I picked my punches well. There were times where I smothered my shots, but there were also times where I smothered him. He has a dangerous uppercut but we had a great game plan. This was a just very hard fought battle by both of us and I'm blessed to get the victory."
After the fight, Berto admitted that Porter's aggressiveness and the accidental headbutts frustrated him.
"I have to give him credit, but he's a rough fighter," Berto said. "He has great skills but, at the same time, he was trying to be rough and trying to handle me anyway he could. I got a lot of headbutts, and he did too. Shawn' is a tough competitor. We had a good competitive fight until the headbutts got to be a little too much for me. But I thought it was a really good fight before that."
After the fight, SHOWTIME Sports reporter Jim Gray asked Thurman, who was ringside for the eliminator, if he would grant Porter a rematch.
"His team was adamant about the rematch and now he's fought his way to earning that," Thurman said. "We just need to sit down and talk about. He's hungry, you see the way he fights, it could be a great fight again."
Answered Porter: "I was just up here wishing he said yes - that's the fight I want next."