PORTLAND — Brandon Berry didn’t win or lose on Saturday night, and that might have been the most fitting finish of all.

Fighting in the memory of his good friend Joel Bishop, Berry, of West Forks, fought to a majority draw with Eric Palmer of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in a six-round welterweight bout as part of Portland Boxing Club’s All Star Boxing card at the Portland Expo. The fight was originally called as a majority decision for Palmer, but a clerical error in the scoring discovered approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion changed the result to a majority draw. Two of the three ringside judges had the fight scored even.

Bishop, who was killed in a single-car accident in The Forks on Oct. 1 — on his way home from Berry’s wedding, where he was the co-best man — fought twice professionally as a heavyweight. Each of those fights ended in a draw.

“When the fight was over, winning and losing wasn’t on my mind,” said Berry, who hadn’t fought in 17 months. “About a week ago, I was thinking that I had to win for Joel. I couldn’t do all of this and lose. But I said that a draw wouldn’t be bad. It would be fitting. If this night’s really for Joel, then why not go out with a draw?

“This is what it was supposed to be.”

It was an emotional night that Berry kept in check. Palmer, who left the building believing he had won the fight, offered nothing but praise for Berry’s effort given the circumstances.


“I knew (Berry’s) story coming in, I knew he just lost a close friend. I had the utmost respect for him. I honestly felt bad. I have a huge heart, and I honestly felt bad for him,” Palmer said. “At the same time, I’m here to do a job. I have a family, I have a little girl, and I’m here to support my family. When I got in the ring, I tried to forget everything he had going on. I knew if I stuck to the game plan, I could beat him.”

Standing in the ring with his gloves off while awaiting the decision from ring announcer Lee Bals, Berry mouthed the words “I’m back.” In addition to getting through the emotional weight Berry was carrying, he was also returning to the ring for the first time since June 2016 after his third surgery on his left shoulder.

He declared his shoulder fit.

“I made this decision (to fight) on pure emotion. That’s not enough time to get ready when you’ve had this much of a layoff,” Berry said. “The shoulder felt great, and the left arm is not even on my mind. I was throwing hard hooks and landing hard hooks.

“I just have to get right back in the gym and get in better shape.”

Berry started quietly in the first round, but Palmer wasn’t much busier. In the second round, Berry was stunned by a right hook from Palmer in the final 10 seconds, and by the third round the smaller Berry had begun to find his way inside Palmer’s substantial reach advantage.


Berry looked comfortable in the fourth round for the first time in the fight, and in the fifth round he emerged to chants of “Baby Bull” — Bishop’s nickname — to which he nodded approval. Berry was cut over his right eye early in the final round, though he did press forward while imploring Palmer to mix things up with him at close range. The bout ended with the two trading blows to the final bell.

At times Berry, who beat Palmer by decision three years ago, seemed irked by some of Palmer’s tactics, which included quick punches coming out of breaks.

“He’s a crafty dude. He knows how to fight,” said Berry, who needed 14 stitches to close the wound afterwards. “This is what it’s supposed to be. Joel couldn’t even say ‘boxing’ without getting a bloody nose… It’s things like this that make you realize that you don’t have control and maybe this is all written. This is the way it was supposed to be.”

Like Berry, Palmer only had a few weeks to train for the fight.

“I hurt him a couple of times early,” Palmer said. “I only trained for two and a half weeks. I felt like if I had more time (to train), I could have gotten him out of there.”

In the main event, John Thompson of Newark, New Jersey, beat Portland’s Russell Lamour Jr. in an eight-round split decision to win the vacant IBA North American Middleweight Championship. Thompson’s powerful left jab and early combinations cut Lamour early, and Lamour never seemed to find his offensive rhythm through the middle rounds of the bout.


Portland firefighter Jason Quirk remained undefeated with a fourth-round knockout of Siri Mikael Bosse of Charleston, West Virginia, in the co-main event. On the undercard, Lewiston’s Christiano Pedro made extremely quick work of John Hantzoupolas, with the fight stopped just 39 seconds into the first round. Pedro briefly dropped Hantzoupolas to one knee, prompting the fight to be stopped.

The fight of the night belonged to Brandon Montella of Woburn, Massachusetts, who twice went down in the first round and appeared on the verge of certain defeat — before recovering to land a vicious body shot to Austin Marcum at the 2:17 mark of the third round, knocking the West Virginian to the canvas and prompting a stoppage for a TKO win.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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