It is relatively easy to under stand the lukewarm reception the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Andre Berto fight has been receiving in terms of ticket sales and overall media coverage. The prevailing opinion is that Berto (30-3, 23 knockouts) was handpicked by Mayweather (48-0, 26 knockouts) to ensure that the road to 49-0 will be pothole-free.
Middleweight champion Gen¬nady Golovkin (33-0, 30 knockouts) expressed willingness to shed weight to meet Mayweather while other worthy challengers like Amir Khan (31-3, 19 knockouts) and Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 knockouts) also offered their fistic services, but Mayweather always had a reason to turn the other cheek. When the choice of Berto was made, boxing fans predictably raised a collective howl of protest. Amid the palatable food on the table, Mayweather opted for the dessert.
Make no mistake, there was a time when Berto was looked upon as a serious threat, but that was eons ago. One of seven children, Berto grew up in Florida but traces his roots from Haiti. After getting beaten up several times by his classmates, Berto’s father Dieuseul, a former kickboxer, taught him how to box. Berto actually comes from a breed of fighters; his brothers were into wrestling while his sisters were ju-jitsu titleholders.
Berto compiled an impressive amateur boxing resume, winning a bronze medal in the 2003 World Amateur Championships and taking part in the 2004 Olympics. He turned pro in 2004 and went undefeated in his first 27 fights. He captured the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight (147 pounds) championship in 2008 and made five successful defenses before he ran into trouble against Victor Ortiz and lost by decision in April 2011. Berto locked lips with the canvas twice in the Ortiz fight and was never the same fighter. He won the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) version of the title five months later but was walloped in his next two fights, getting out¬gunned by Robert Guerrero in 2012 and getting stopped in 12 rounds by Jesus Soto Karass in 12 rounds in 2013.
Going into the May¬weather fight, Berto has lost 3 of his last 6 fights. He fought only once in 2014 and has recorded only one fight this year (a sixth round knockout of Josesito Lopez in March). The popular belief is that while Berto’s right hand still packs a wallop, his style is tailor-made for Mayweather. True enough, oddsmakers in Las Vegas have pegged the 32-year-old Berto as a 20-to-1 underdog. One journalist even labeled Berto as a “washed up corpse.”
Mayweather, the defending WBC and WBA (World Boxing Association) welterweight champ, has been trying to promote the fight by saying that it will be his last, but nobody is buying it. If Mayweather improves to 49-0, he will only tie the all-time mark of former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. Going for the 50-0 plateau may be too tempting to resist for Mayweather.
Berto, for his part, can only hope for a Cinderella finish. Then again, it will not be easy opposite boxing’s ultimate Prima Donna.
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