Andre Berto successfully defended his WBC welterweight title last night with an easy unanimous decision over Juan Urango at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe and Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. Scores were 117-111, 118-110, and 118-110.
It was a ho-hum performance by a fighter so over hyped he might one day become a victim of spontaneous human combustion. Berto, who won his title last year by knocking out a full-time policeman named “Miki” Rodriguez, added two new wrinkles to his game last night: clowning and excessive clinching. Both innovations were out of place–not to mention in poor taste–against such limited opposition and neither tic will endear him to the public. Nor will matches against opponents with disadvantages in weight, height, and reach. Despite propaganda fed all over the world via DSL, modem, 3G, FIOS, Wi-Fi, and satellite, Urango was as safe an opponent as could possibly be found. A limited brawler whose chief asset–power–was negated by the move up in weight, Urango entered the ring with as much chance to win as King Louis the XVI had to overcome the guillotine.
Berto, now 25-0 (19), used his dazzling hand speed to score with every punch in the book. From the “Corkscrew Punch” of Kid McCoy to the “Anchor Punch” of Muhammad Ali to the “Kangaroo Punch” of Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson—Berto, 145.25, scored at will. At one point, even the “Fitzsimmons Shift” appeared to be put into effect. In between combinations, Berto cuddled Urango without shame and held a running commentary with HBO commentator Max Kellerman at ringside. Urango, 21-2-1 (16), took the punishment stoically and, as an honest prizefighter, did his best to dish out his own. He landed a few single shots and worked the body now and again, but the difference in speed, firepower, and skill was too much. Scattered boos accompanied the sloppy fight. The referee was Tommy Kimmons. Urango, 146.5, is a tenacious boxer with heart, but he was outclassed the moment he was offered the fight. In fact, the contract signing was reportedly won 10-8 by Berto on all three scorecards.
Berto has now successfully defended his “world” title three times: against an ex-junior lightweight in Steve Forbes, against Luis Collazo in a fight so close it might easily have gone the other way, and against Urango, a 140-pound paper champion making his debut at welterweight. All three fights went the distance. Sooner or later, it seems, Berto will have to match his press clippings with accomplishments. Berto is an enormously gifted fighter, but matchups like these serve only to mix smoke and mirror, two of the most widespread ingredients found in boxing, together again for the usual gruel. No amount of showboating can make it taste any better.