Chopped Butcher 'can recover' from loss
A bemused Rob Berridge was searching for answers after suffering his first knockout loss yesterday, but his trainer was vowing the Kiwi light-heavyweight would rebound.
"The Butcher" got chopped to pieces yesterday, floored four times in suffering a fifth round TKO against Vasily Lepikhim, the little known Russian who wasn't just too tall for Berridge, but also a class above.
Berridge's two WBO belts were gone and his rankings of No 9 with the WBO and 12 with the WBA would take serious dents.
And it all came at the worst possible moment, happening live on American TV.
"I just wasn't aggressive enough, just no fire. I don't know, I just wasn't on form tonight," the 29-year-old said.
"He was strong, but so am I, I just didn't fire. I wasn't finding my range, then I got hit and that was it."
Berridge said there was no panic as he quickly fell behind to the Russian's clever mix of body and head shots, but his usually lethal left hook wouldn't land.
"I knew I had the power to knock him out. I caught him a couple of times but I just couldn't find that range all the time."
The statistics were damning for Berridge and suggested a world title tilt looked beyond him unless he could somehow regather himself and move his game to another level.
He threw 233 punches and landed just 39. Of the 98 jabs he put out, just two connected. In the "power punches" category he threw 135 and landed 37.
By contrast, Lepikhim was more economical with his output but far more accurate with his returns, connecting with 78 of his 210 punches and 58 of his 111 "power punches".
He landed the heavy blows, flooring Berridge towards the end of the second round and then three times in the fifth round as his killer instincts took control.
"We will move on, we will rebuild," vowed Cleve Langdon, Berridge's trainer.
"Everyone loses, some of New Zealand's most famous boxers have lost and rebuilt and had some really good wins afterwards. So we just have to let Rob sit back and lick his wounds, rebuild and move on."
Langdon said "without a shadow of a doubt" Berridge could recover from this devastating loss.
"It's boxing, it's a brutal sport ... you win some, you lose some. Rob has done that to many, many fighters before and we can't forget that. It's just unfortunate that it happened tonight. Onwards and upwards."
Berridge was a year into a six-year contract with promoters Duco who vowed to stick by him, with Dean Lonergan saying it was now up to Berridge to "get back on that horse".
Lepikhim, with his height and unbeaten 15-fight record in Russia, always loomed as a risk. But no one in the Berridge camp believed it would have ended in such dramatic fashion.
"I think Kevin Barry said it very astutely afterwards - that guy (Lepikhim) has got world class potential and we will probably follow his career with interest as well," Langdon said.
The problem for Berridge and his handlers is that having cleaned out his own backyard of opponents, they will have to scour widely - and wisely - for suitable fights now as the rebuild starts.
The nature of this loss meant there was no chance of a rematch with Lepikhim and Langdon ruled out having another fight with Australian Blake Caparello, the only other fighter to beat Berridge in a controversial points decision.
Langdon said Caparello
"No way. Caparello doesn't make for exciting fights and people want to see exciting fighters."