<
>

Berto overcomes fast Estrada start for 11th-round victory

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Andre Berto, the rising welterweight phenom, was supposed to get a stern test from experienced veteran David Estrada, and that's exactly what he got.

But in the end, the younger, stronger Berto ended their welterweight elimination fight in sensational fashion with an 11th-round TKO on Saturday night before 10,127 at Boardwalk Hall.

The fight was the co-featured match on the card headlined by middleweight champion Jermain Taylor's defense against Kelly Pavlik and it provided the crowd with excitement.

Berto, the 2006 ESPN.com prospect of the year, took more punishment than he ever had until he suddenly unleashed a tremendous straight right hand that hit Estrada squarely on the chin and crumpled him in the 11th round.

Estrada, already bleeding from his nose, rose and was in bad shape. Referee David Fields surprisingly allowed the fight to continue even though Estrada seemed like he had no idea where he was. Berto attacked and was hammering him in a corner until Fields jumped in to stop it at 1:17.

"He was tough as hell and he took a lot of hard shots," Berto said. "He came out tough and then I started to jab him and kept him off me. I saw him wearing down and I kept going. I had to keep pressing and working the combinations. I finally caught him and it was over."

Although Berto, 24, scored the hard-earned knockout, he also showed that he might not be ready for prime time yet. He had a difficult time with Estrada, 28, an experienced fighter whose only previous stoppage loss also came in the 11th round to Kermit Cintron, who would later win a title. Estrada (21-4, 12 KOs) also lasted the 10-round distance with Shane Mosley in 2005.

It was the second fight in row in which Berto (20-0, 17 KOs) passed a test. On July 27, he outpointed former title challenger Cosme Rivera, but suffered the first knockdown of his career when Rivera dropped him hard in the sixth round.

Estrada didn't knock him down, but Berto, in his first scheduled 12-rounder, will know he was in a fight. He had swelling under his right eye and Estrada landed a lot of punches, including enough right hands that Berto's camp probably needs to be concerned.

Estrada started fast, landing hard shots that seemed to catch Berto by surprise in the first round. Estrada continued to apply pressure and was backing Berto up in the first two rounds.

They went toe-to-toe for most of the third round, with both giving as good as they were taking. Berto seemed to take control of the fight in the fifth round, despite swelling under his right eye.

The waged another brutal round in the eighth. Berto was pouring it on, landing uppercuts and body shots as blood flew from Estrada's nose. But Estrada had his moments, too, as the crowd cheered wildly as the round came to a close.

According to CompuBox statistics, Berto landed 359 of 737 blows (49 percent) while Estrada connected with 283 of 731 punches (39 percent).

Berto, however, dominated in jabs, outlanding Estrada 115-19.

Hearns blows away Kamya

Middleweight Ronald Hearns (16-0, 13 KOs), the son of legend Thomas Hearns, destroyed Robert Kamya (16-8, 4 KOs) in the first round.

Hearns, who is 28 but didn't start boxing until his early 20s, dropped Kamya face first with a picture-perfect right hand to the chin. Kamya somehow made it to his feet and continued until Hearns blasted him with a left hook. Again, Kamya made it to his feet, but was in no condition to continue and the fight was called off at 2:42.

Kamya, 34, has lost three of his last four inside three rounds.

Hearns promoter Lou DiBella was floating the idea of a match between Hearns and the son of another icon, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

DiBella said Hearns would be willing to make 152 pounds for the fight and mentioned it to Chavez promoter Bob Arum this week, who didn't take it seriously. Arum is trying to put together Chavez and Alfonso Gomez for the first quarter of next year.

• Light heavyweight Omar Sheika (27-8, 18 KOs), trying to launch a comeback, injured his right hand in the first round, so he used his left to knock out Tiwon Taylor (26-14-1, 19 KOs) in the fourth round in his first fight in two years.

Sheika, 30, a former super middleweight contender who has lost four 168-pound title bouts, hadn't fought since dropping a decision in a title fight to Markus Beyer in September 2005 in Germany.

Sheika had also lost title bouts to Jeff Lacy, Eric Lucas and Joe Calzaghe.

Sheika looked rusty, but was handling Taylor when he knocked him halfway out of the ring with a low blow in the third round. A second low blow in the fourth round cost Sheika a point. But later in the round, he dropped Taylor with a left hand to the side of the head. Taylor made it to his feet, but the fight was called off at 2:25.

• Welterweight Carlos Quintana (24-1, 19 KOs), returning from nearly a year off, stopped Christopher Henry (23-19, 17 KOs) in the fourth round.

Quintana, 30, of Puerto Rico, hadn't fought since December, when he took a pounding in the same ring from countryman Miguel Cotto in a world title fight.

Quintana, a southpaw, had little problem with Henry, 34, a journeyman who has lost four in a row and five of six. In the fourth round, he trapped Henry in a corner and put together a combination, including a flush uppercut that caused referee Sparkle Lee to halt the action at 2:46.

DiBella signed Quintana and put him on the card hoping to set up an eventual match between him and Berto.

• Heavyweight Chazz Witherspoon (20-0, 14 KOs), whose cousin, former two-time heavyweight titleholder Tim Witherspoon, was at ringside, broke down journeyman Ron Guerrero (19-15-3, 13 KOs) until he quit on his stool after the fifth round of their scheduled eight-rounder.

Witherspoon, 26, had a huge fifth round, knocking Guerrero, 33, all over the ring before he elected not to continue. It was Guerrero's third loss in his last four fights.

• Heavyweight Robert Hawkins (22-9, 7 KOs) outworked Terry Smith (30-3, 18 KOs) to score the minor upset. Hawkins won on scores of 60-54, 59-55 and 58-56 as Smith exited the ring with a large knot over his eye.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.