Shawn Porter wasn't going to be denied what he has so badly wanted since June: a rematch with unbeaten 147-pound world champion Keith Thurman.
Porter put himself in position for the return encounter Saturday night with a ninth-round TKO of Andre Berto in their 147-pound title eliminator before a crowd of 9,118 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Porter scored one knockdown in the second and another in the ninth before scoring the stoppage when referee Mark Nelson waved an end to the bout at 1:31 of Round 9.
"I thought I fought smart tonight. I thought I picked my punches well,” Porter said. “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.”
With the win, Porter is now the No. 1 contender to one of the 147-pound world titles owned by Thurman, who eked out a close unanimous decision over Porter in Brooklyn last June.
In the ring after the fight, Thurman said he welcomed another meeting with Porter.
“His team was adamant about the rematch and now he’s fought his way to earn that,” Thurman said. “We just need to sit down and talk about it. He’s hungry, you see the way he fights; it could be a great fight again.”
Shawn Porter (27-2-1, 17 KOs) was relentless in the ring as he pursued Berto throughout the fight, and he paid a price for it at times. The Akron, Ohio, native, who now lives in Las Vegas, continually marched forward and was cut over both eyes by accidental headbutts during the fight.
Porter, 29, was cut over the left eye in Round 2 and over the right eye in the fourth. Berto also was cut in Round 4 over his left eye, and seemed to be more affected by the head clashes.
Porter even apologized to Berto in the ring afterward, although he stressed that the contact was entirely inadvertent.
“I have to clean up those headbutts," Porter said. “We tried to use the whole ring, but sometimes in the heat of the battle, I’m a fighter and Mr. Berto is a fighter as well. Those headbutts were just the two of us going in and fighting. My intention is never to use my head as a weapon.”
While Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) wasn't happy about the incidental contact, the Winter Haven, Florida, native didn’t use it as an excuse. Instead, the former two-time world champion simply accepted that he wasn’t up to the task of beating Porter.
“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.”
Berto, 33, was bothered by another clash of heads in Round 9 before eating a left hook to the jaw that sent him into the ropes and led Nelson to administer a count. Porter soon closed in for the finish, causing the referee to step in again—this time for good.
Now the wait starts for Thurman and Porter to go at it again.
“Me and Berto are different fighters,” Thurman said. "There were a lot of headbutts, but I know to watch out for that. Berto is a little more flat-footed than me and that played in Shawn's favor.
“They deserve all the credit in the world. He fought a great fight.”
Porter was ready for the rematch to be announced immediately, and kidded his rival for his reluctance to do so.
“I was just up here wishing [Thurman] said yes—that’s the fight I want next.”
For a complete look at Berto vs Porter, visit our fight page.