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Berto takes IBF welterweight title from Zaveck in 5 rounds

BILOXI, Mississippi -- American Andre Berto won the International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title on Saturday, dethroning Jan Zaveck by stopping the Slovenian after five rounds.

Berto, bouncing back after the first loss of his career, improved to 28-1 with his 22nd career stoppage inside the distance while Zaveck fell to 31-2.

“I wanted to come out and make a statement,” Berto said. “I wanted to come out and say I didn't go nowhere.”

Victor Ortiz ended countryman Berto's three-year reign as World Boxing Council welterweight champion and unbeaten standing by taking a unanimous decision last April.

Berto dominated the fight and inflicted a deep gash upon Zaveck's right eyelid with a left hook in the fifth round. After the round, Zaveck's cornermen tried in vain to close the cut and a ringside doctor ordered the bout halted.

“It was so-so,” Berto said. “It was my first fight coming back. I was nervous. I had some big expectations coming back. It was a strong victory.”

Berto, 27, called out for a rematch with Ortiz, who will defend the WBC crown in two weeks against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather.

“I was stuck in a cage the last few months,” Berto said. “I'm focused. I'm ready. I'm hungry. Victor Ortiz, we definitely want to do it again.”

Zaveck, making his first U.S. start in only his second fight outside Europe, was screaming that he wanted to continue when the fight was stopped.

“I was saving energy for the second half of the fight,” Zaveck said. “If this injury hadn't happened, it would have been a very good match.”

Zaveck, 25, was making the fourth defense of the title he won in December of 2009 in his only prior fight outside Europe, a third-round stoppage of host-nation hero Isaac Hlatshwayo in South Africa in December of 2009.

But Berto dominated from the beginning, pounding Zaveck with combinations and body blows that put the champion on the defensive for as long as the fight lasted.

“It was very hard to stay focused,” Zaveck said. “I tried to do my best.”

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