Brandon Berry (left) of West Forks lands a left jab against Zack Kuhn of Charleston, West Virginia, during their fight for the Universal Boxing Organization All-America welterweight boxing championship on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Derry, New Hampshire. Credit: Courtesy of Kineo Boxing Photography

The bottom line is that Brandon Berry is the new Universal Boxing Organization’s All-America welterweight boxing champion after a second-round technical knockout of Zack Kuhn on Saturday.

But the West Forks product also returned home with a renewed sense for the fine line between victory and defeat in the ring.

While “The Cannon” left the New England Sports Center in Derry, New Hampshire, with his sixth consecutive victory and a title belt after knocking Kuhn down three times before referee Leo Gerstel stopped the contest with 10 seconds remaining in the second round, the scheduled eight-round bout nearly ended earlier with a vastly different outcome.

Berry controlled the outset of the fight with his left jab, but Kuhn came forward midway through the first round and combined a left hook and a straight right hand to buckle Berry’s knees.

“I almost went down,” said the 33-year-old Berry, now 19-5-2 with 13 knockouts as a professional. “In my mind I was thinking, ‘Oh, no’ because if he catches me with another one or knows how hurt I am, this could end early.”

The left hook also left Berry’s right eye swollen, so once he regained his footing he sought temporary refuge in a defensive posture against the ropes.

Clockwise from left: Boxer Brandon Berry of West Forks wears the Universal Boxing Organization All America welterweight championship belt he won with a second-round technical knockout of Zack Kuhn on Saturday afternoon at the New England Sports Center in Derry, New Hampshire. Flanking Berry are fight referee Leo Gerstel (left) and New Hampshire boxing commissioner Art Nolin; Berry looks down at opponent Zack Kuhn of Charleston, West Virginia, after scoring one of his three second-round knockdowns; Berry lands a body shot during the second round. Credit: Courtesy of Kineo Boxing Photography

Kuhn pressed the attack but was unable to land another clean shot before the round ended.

“I don’t want to assume that I can take punches because that’s not a good strategy anyway,” Berry said. “I’m confident I can take a good punch, but he definitely was on the verge of making it a different outcome in the first round.”

Berry’s corner men worked to reduce the swelling between rounds, leaving him able to return to his original game plan of working on Kuhn’s body as the second round began.

“I just went out as if it was the first round and restarted and caught him with some nice body shots,” Berry said. “During the fight I didn’t realize they were as effective as they were but rewatching it I think the body shots were a huge factor. His hands came down a little bit and he was more on the defense and I was able to get him out of there.”

Berry’s first knockdown of the 29-year-old Kuhn (10-7-1) came from a right hand midway through the round. A second knockdown followed, this time as Berry pinned Kuhn against the ropes.

Kuhn rose from the mat one more time, just long enough for Berry to deliver a knockdown-producing body shot that prompted Gerstel to stop the bout.

“I didn’t expect to get hurt like that and I didn’t expect to get him out of there in the second so you never know what’s going to happen in this game,” Berry said.

After winning two fights in less than a month, Berry plans to rest over the holidays before considering his next boxing move — perhaps a defense of his UBO title belt early next year, COVID-19 pandemic willing.

“I’ll be excited to defend the title at some point,” he said. “That will be pretty cool. I don’t think I’ve ever defended a title like this before. There’s a lot of welterweights right now around New England so who knows what will happen. Luckily I’m friends with most of them.”

Elsewhere on the card, Mike Marshall (4-1, 3 KO) of Danbury, Connecticut, scored an eight-round unanimous decision over Justin Rolfe (4-2-1, 3 KO) of Fairfield in their battle for Rolfe’s USA New England heavyweight title.

Rolfe was making the first defense of the championship he captured earlier this fall, but Marshall won on all three judges’ scorecards 79-71, 79-73 and 78-74.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...