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Andre Berto Takes Jan Zaveck’s Belt in a Barnburner

Andre Berto
Andre Berto

While we didn’t get to see if newly crowned IBF welterweight Andre Berto’s stamina had improved deep in a fight, we did get an entertaining five rounds of action Saturday night on HBO. Fighting for the first time both on HBO and in the US, Jan Zaveck, 31-2, 18 KOs of Ptuj, Slovania brought the heat to Berto but unfortunately for him and us, his face could not sustain the punishment Berto, 28-1, 22 KOs, doled out. Two nasty cuts on both of Zaveck’s eyes and a nearly completely shut right eye forced the fight to be stopped in between the fifth and the sixth rounds.  The 28 year old Berto is now a two-time welterweight titleholder, having previously held the WBC version before losing it earlier this year to Victor Ortiz. However it should be noted, this is the first time Berto has taken a title from someone who earned it in the ring. His previous belt was won in a box off for the vacant WBC version.


The action at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi was red hot from the first bell as the 35 years old Zaveck came out swinging for the fences with a looping right hand. Berto, 27, answered right back by taking Zaveck to the ropes and smothering him. Zaveck chopped away with a right hand to Berto’s temple and the younger fighter responded with body shots. But Zaveck was right there with him and came back a jab, right hand that got through Berto’s guard.

The action was tight in the first three rounds as both men traded hard shots. Berto was more active, throwing an estimated 358 total shots to Zaveck’s 268 according to HBO’s Compubox stats. But Zaveck, who utilized a lot of short inside shots, was more accurate, landing 109 to Berto’s 89, a 42% to 25% difference in accuracy. It should be noted that Compubox may not be completely accurate. From this writer’s point of view, Berto appeared to be hitting a lot of gloves and elbows early on as Zaveck allowed the younger man to open up while he stayed inside his shell defense and waited for counter opportunities.


In the fourth round, Berto seemed to slow down a bit and Zaveck began to gain a bit of control. However, the fight still remained very much back and forth. The difference was that now Berto was beginning to initiate clinches. This allowed Zaveck to take advantage of the opening for his uppercut and he began to land it frequently.


The pattern remained in the fifth but by this time, Zaveck, who was eating jabs and right hands throughout from Berto, was now starting to swell and was cut badly on both eyelids. Zaveck seemed to be coming on, getting to Berto’s body and landing that chopping right and uppercut but it was a race against time that his face was losing.


In between the fifth and sixth rounds, Zaveck’s corner as well as the doctor looked at his injuries and despite the titleholder standing and practically begging for one more round, the fight was stopped.


As Berto celebrated his redemption and second world title, a crushed Zaveck knelt at the ropes in defeat. The tide had turned for him in the fight but not soon enough.


After losing to Victor Ortiz in a fight of the year candidate, Berto changed things up in his camp. He employed the services of nutrition expert Victor Conte who discovered an iron deficiency in Berto. Conte’s nutritional changes along with a new fitness regime was said to have Berto’s previous stamina issues. We won’t know if that is true of Berto until we see him in a longer fight.


Afterwards, Berto thanked his family and Victor Conte as well as adviser Al Haymon. He also expressed interest in an Ortiz rematch.


“We definitely have to do it again,” said Berto.


Ortiz is scheduled to face Floyd Mayweather, Jr September 17. The mandatory to Berto is now Randall Bailey who is promoted by Berto’s promoter, Lou Dibella.


In the televised undercard, super featherweight prospect Gary Russell, Jr improved to 18-0, 10 KOs in an eight round bout with a unanimous decision over Leonilo Miranda by scores of 80-72 twice and 79-72. Russell was dominant throughout, flashing lengthy combinations and technical proficiency. Time will tell how fast and how good Russell is as Miranda was an opponent picked ten days out from this date, which is a rarity, if not a first for HBO. 




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