Berto, 31, took time to find his range as fringe contender Lopez edged ahead on the scorecards in front of his own fans. After five sessions, Lopez – from nearby Riverside – was leading on the judges’ scorecards but Berto’s growing menace, building from behind his jab, became apparent when he dropped his rival for a huge breakthrough in the sixth.
A straight right decked Lopez again but this time the referee did not give Lopez – who beat Victor Ortiz in a 2012 war – the chance to regain his feet before waving it off. The crowd were incensed but Berto was triumphant for the second consecutive time since his surprise 2013 reverse to Jesus Soto Karass.
“I have a pretty good jab and they say it’s pretty quick. So I tried to use my jab to set up the right hand,” Berto said. “I think I proved tonight that I am back in the mix.”
The card – put together by Al Haymon and broadcast by Spike TV – also provided a springboard for another former 147lb titlist. Shawn Porter returned to winning ways after losing his IBF title to Kell Brook in 2014 when he hammered late-substitute Eric Bone into fifth round submission.
Ecuador’s Bone stepped in for Roberto Garcia (alleged to have missed the weigh-in because he was four pounds overweight) at short notice and came ready to spring the upset. He tagged Porter and caused him to stumble in the fifth but it awoke the former champion. Porter poured on the pressure, landing hellacious body shots that floored the underdog. Bone survived, but not for long, as Porter finished matters with another rapid-fire assault that forced his rival down for the count.
Top level heavyweight gatekeeper Chris Arreola’s recent claims that he’s dedicating himself to the gym and taking the sport seriously were tested by unknown Curtis Harper during their wild eight-rounder.
Harper was floored in the opening round but rebounded to hurt the favourite in the third and fourth rounds. Arreola managed to secure a unanimous points success with a big last round.
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