New York (January 20, 2009) – In an early candidate for “Fight of the Year” honors, WBC 147 pound world champion Andre Berto came on strong in the championship rounds to rally past former WBA welterweight king Luis Collazo, in a tremendous all-action fight that featured several shifts in momentum, as seen on HBO’s Boxing After Dark, from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The spirited twelve round fight offered great give-and-take action, with slick boxing southpaw Collazo (29-4, 14 KOs) getting off to a fast start, before Berto (24-0, 19 KOs) rallied in the middle rounds, only to have Collazo, who reigned as world champion in 2005, find a second gear in rounds nine and ten. With his championship in peril, Berto saved his best for last – producing an awesome two-fisted attack in the final two rounds to earn a unanimous decision on scores of 116-111 and 114-113 twice.
“Tonight we saw Andre Berto graduate from the ‘future’ to the ‘here and now’ of the welterweight division. Only a very special type of champion rises to the occasion – with his title up for grabs late in a fight – to close the show like Andre did tonight against Collazo. It’s clear why Luis Collazo won a world title and why he gave Ricky Hatton fits. Together, Berto and Collazo began 2009 with a bang,” said DBE president Lou DiBella.
Berto was tested from the beginning, as Collazo, from Queens, NY, hurt the champion with a left hand in round one and seemed to be in control through the first four rounds. To make matters worse, Berto had to overcome a point deduction for holding and a cut over his right eye from a clash of heads. Despite the adversity, Berto remained composed and eventually began to find his rhythm, while scoring effectively from the outside, before digging deep late in order to retain the championship.
“Luis Collazo is an animal! He is a tough customer. He caught me with some shots early on,” said Berto.
Berto, 25, from Winterhaven, Florida, represented Haiti in the 2004 Olympics. He won the vacant WBC welterweight crown this past June via TKO 7 over Miguel Angel Rodriguez, and in his first title defense, unanimously outpointed Steve Forbes on September 27.