Anber: Thrillers all around in group of superb fights

Russ Anber
4/21/2011 1:04:04 AM
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I know it's been a while, but I just can't resist taking a friendly shot at Dutchy, especially when he opens himself up for it like a barn door. In last week's blog, I made mention to the fact that Dutchy had said "there are no big fights" coming up. Like the proverbial kiss of death, a Dutchy prediction is almost guaranteed to have the opposite effect.

In back-to-back weekends, and this past weekend, in back-to-back fights, boxing in its most savage beauty was front and centre. Last week we all witnessed the epic battle between Marcos Maidana and Erik Morales, we watched in utter amazement as Nobuhiro Ishida shocked previously unbeaten James Kirkland with a three-knockdown, first round demolition, and I was a first-hand witness to Marco Antonio Rubio's come-from-behind win over previously unbeaten David Lemieux. In retrospect, last weekend's fights appeared to be a precursor to this weekend's continuing shocking upsets.

Foxwoods Casino was the first stop as previously undefeated WBC World Welterweight champion Andre Berto put his title on the line against the enigma named Victor Ortiz.

Blessed with an abundance of talent, and ticketed as a future star of the sport, Ortiz suffered a huge setback when he was stopped by Marcos Maidana two years ago and then tripped over another hurdle when he experienced a huge meltdown late in the fight against Lamont Peterson last December and escaped with a draw. For Ortiz, this fight against Berto was his last at-bat.

For the 27-year-old Berto, this would be the sixth defence of the title he won back in 2008. With 21 KO's in 27 wins, it was clear why he was the heavy favourite going in.

From the opening bell, both fighters came looking to impose their will. In a knockdown, drag out affair, this fight will easily find its way alongside the Maidana-Morales slugfest as a candidate for fight of the year. As well, not only did this fight more than live up to the hype, not only did both fighters show incredible heart by picking themselves up off the canvas on more than one occasion, but incredibly this fight would go into the books amazingly controversy-free. No bad calls, no missed fouls, no horrific scorecards. This one was just an old fashioned war, between to extremely courageous warriors.

And I for one tip my hat to both of them!

OK, so now with one outstanding fight in the books let's tune in and get a look at the WBO World featherweight title fight from Bayamon, Puerto Rico where hometown hero and crowd favourite Juan Manuel Lopez put his title on the line against former champion Orlando Salido.

For the record, Salido was coming off a unanimous decision loss to the outstanding Cuban WBA Super-Featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa. In an effort to continue building the much-anticipated showdown between Gamboa and Juanma, Top Rank brought in Salido to test Lopez and stir interest in a Gamboa fight. The logic was brilliant. As Salido had lost a decision to Gamboa, the worst that Top Rank could have envisioned was Lopez winning a decision which would simply stir debate as to who would win when the two eventually faced off. The best scenario would have been for Juanma to stop Salido anytime before the limit and spark even greater debate as to who would win between the two. Top Rank's only gamble, and it was a longshot at best, was that Salido would win. Like I said earlier, this was a weekend of upsets and a weekend of candidates for fight of the year.

In another thrilling back-and-forth contest, Juanma and Salido unleashed in a furious manner as Juanma jumped into the early lead. Salido - not to be denied - stormed back in round 4, and in round 5 dropped Lopez hard. In customary fashion, Lopez, showing incredible heart, rose and battled back hard in round 7. In round 8 however, Salido emerged from his corner hell-bent on stopping Lopez in front of his hometown crowd. In a wild round, Salido hurt Lopez and had him defenceless on the ropes before the referee moved in to wave the fight off.

There was some question as to the stoppage, as Lopez, although badly hurt, did not get hit with anything of note when the fight was stopped. In my opinion the referee panicked slightly at the possibility of Lopez being hit with a bomb.

While the pro-Lopez crowd voiced their discontent, Salido was elated.

From personal experience, I can assure you, there is no better feeling in the world than walking into the opponent's hometown and leaving with the victory, or in this case with the title. It's an even purer ecstasy when you do it as a prohibitive underdog.

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