Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Berridge closer to world title fight after big victory

Robert Berridge celebrates after beating Rogerio Damasco of Brazil. Photo / Getty Images
Robert Berridge celebrates after beating Rogerio Damasco of Brazil. Photo / Getty Images

Robert Berridge continued his rise with a stunning first-round knockout victory over Brazilian Rogerio Damasco on the undercard of tonight's Joseph Parker v Brian Minto main event in Manukau.

The win will have helped Berridge, the highest-ranked professional fighter in New Zealand at the moment, get closer to a world title fight against undefeated Russian and WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.

It improved his record to 24 wins, 20 by knockout, with one loss and one draw, and it was as brutal as it was short.

The southpaw Berridge, nicknamed The Butcher, knocked Damasco down with 1min 22secs remaining in the first round, and charged forward again to again knock the Brazilian down only seconds later. Damasco claimed to be fine, but his corner threw the towel in.

Berridge, who has an extremely attacking style and frequently finishes his fights covered in either his or his opponent's blood, had promised to show more of a defensive mindset in this fight.

He talked about the importance of moving his head, but that was hardly needed against an opponent with an impressive 12-win, 12-knockout record, but who has never before fought outside of his home country.

The difference in skill and power was quickly evident.

"Yeah, it came pretty quick," Berridge replied when asked if he was surprised about the ease of his victory. "[But] I said in the press conference I was going to rip his head off.
"Hopefully it will take me a few places up the ladder."

It was said later that Damasco had suffered a broken nose during his short time in the ring.

In another undercard fight at a packed Vodafone Events Centre, Jeff The Hornet Horn continued on his winning streak, the Brisbane-based fighter, about to sign for Parker's promoters Duco, winning with an unanimous decision after 12 rounds against tough Brazilian Fernando Ferreira da Silva. Horn, 26, a schoolteacher, suffered an injury to his right hand about midway through the fight, but continued, using his left more in what proved to be an awkward, switch-hitting, style.

He was clearly hoping to continue his impressive knockout record - seven in his eight professional fights - but despite wobbling Damasco in the second round and landing punch after punch, he couldn't quite manage it.

And in what was an extremely entertaining corporate fight over three rounds, David The Brown Buttabean Letele won a split decision over Lopini Vatuvei, the older brother of Warriors winger Manu.

There was plenty of animosity in the build-up to this fight between the loquacious Letele and tough Vatuvei, and there was little love lost in the ring. Letele, who has fought twice before for two victories, impressed with his toughness and accuracy against Vatuvei, who was making his debut and was given an extra carrot of a $10,000 knockout bonus.

Neither could achieve that, but Letele did succeed in pinning him to the ring in what looked a classic wrestling move.


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