Undercard: Berto stays unbeaten with sixth-round TKO
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Welterweight prospect Andre Berto started fast and never let up, pounding Miguel Figueroa en route to a sixth-round TKO on Saturday night at the Alltel Arena.
The 2004 Haitian Olympian was making his HBO debut on the undercard of the Jermain Taylor-Kassim Ouma middleweight championship fight, and he looked every bit the potential star that his handlers believe he can be.
"It was fun and I had a great time," Berto said. "I wanted to prove to the public and the other fighters in the welterweight division that I am here to fight. Next year is going to be a big year for me."
At 23, he has blazing-fast hands and power. He showed both attributes in tearing Figueroa apart over six lopsided rounds.
Berto (16-0, 14 KOs), the son of a former mixed martial arts pro, had a huge first round. He displayed those fast hands and hit Figueroa in a blur from all angles. As the round came to a close, Berto had him in big trouble along the ropes and rocked him badly with a left hook.
Berto, who fought for Haiti even though he came up through the U.S. amateur program and lives in Winter Haven, Fla., landed numerous hard blows in the second round. Figueroa, however, was able to hang in the fight and rally briefly, stopping Berto in his tracks with a right hand.
Figueroa (24-6-1), coming off a March draw with highly touted Larry Mosley, continued to absorb punishing blows in the fifth round, including uppercuts that rocked his head back. But he refused to wilt even when Berto was exploding punches on him almost at will in the final few seconds. In all, Berto connected on 39 of 76 power shots in the round and it was obvious they had taken their toll as Figueroa came out slowly for the sixth.
Berto, a three-time U.S. national champion and a 2003 bronze winner at the World Amateur championships, continued the assault in the sixth. He landed 25 of 34 more power shots, including a huge right hand that had Figueroa out on his feet. Berto continued the onslaught for a few more seconds until referee Laurence Cole stepped in at 1:59.
Augustus dominates with open scoring
Junior welterweight Emanuel Augustus, the "Friday Night Fights" fan-favorite journeyman, dominated Russell "Stoner" Jones (19-16) to win a lopsided 10-round unanimous decision.
The fight was for a minor WBC 140-pound belt, and thus the organization's newly adopted open-scoring policy was used. Scores were announced over the public address system following the fourth and eighth rounds, and everyone knew that Augustus (34-27-6) was in command at each juncture.
When it was over, Augustus had a shutout victory, winning 100-89 on two scorecards and 100-90 on the third. ESPN.com also scored the fight 100-90.
After it was announced that Augustus -- who treated the fans to his trademark dance moves during the fight -- was leading 80-71 on all three scorecards after the eighth round, he could have sat on his lead and refused to engage. But that's not the kind of fighter Augustus is, and he continued to fight hard for the final two rounds.
He said he had heard the scores, but tried to put them out of his mind.
"To be honest, I heard them. I was listening, but trying not to listen," said Augustus, who won this third bout in a row. "I just need to go out and do my fight. If you get caught up in listening to the scores, you can get careless. And I want to always give the fans a good show, so I'll always be out there fighting as hard as I can. If a fighter doesn't do that and sits on the lead, he should be penalized."
• Middleweight Ronald Hearns (11-0, 9 KOs), the son of all-time great Thomas Hearns, scored an easy first-round knockout of Robert Smallwood (4-3-2), who was completely overmatched.
Hearns, 27, who recently signed with Taylor promoter Lou DiBella, scored a pair of quick knockdowns. Then Hearns put Smallwood through the ropes and onto the ring apron on what referee Frank Garza called a slip. Seconds later, however, Hearns landed another combination and Smallwood went through the ropes again onto the apron and Garza called the fight off at 2:55.
It was Hearns' seventh consecutive knockout.
• Super middleweight Jaidon Codrington (14-1) scored a second-round knockdown and cruised to a unanimous decision victory against durable Thomas Reid (35-18-1).
Codrington, one of the most hyped New York prospects in years, won 59-54 on all three scorecards as he continued his comeback from a brutal 18-second knockout loss to Allan Green in November 2005.
Codrington won his fifth consecutive fight since the crushing knockout.
• Heavyweight Dominick Guinn (27-4-1), of nearby Hot Springs, rebounded from a decision loss to Tony Thompson in June to win an eight-round split decision against Zach Page (12-9-1).
Aside from Guinn scoring a first-round knockdown on a right hand, the fight featured little action. When it was over two judges favored Guinn, 79-72 and 77-74 and the third had it for Page, 76-75.
Guinn, 31, is still a long way from the top form he showed in back-to-back wins against Michael Grant and Duncan Dokiwari in 2003. After those victories, Guinn was considered by many as "the next big thing" in the heavyweight division. But that status was short lived as he went into a 2-4-1 tailspin, including losses to Sergei Liakhovich (who later won a world title), James Toney and Thompson.
• Little Rock heavyweight Terry Smith (29-2-1) easily outpointed journeyman Ramon Hayes (15-22-1), winning on scores of 79-73 (twice) and 78-74.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com
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