WBC welterweight titlist Andre Berto may find himself trying to unify with recently-crowned IBF titleholder Isaac Hlatshwayo in his next fight.
We failed to make any note of it, but if you haven't heard, Isaac Hlatshwayo won a split decision over Delvin Rodriguez on Friday in Connecticut to win the IBF welterweight title that Joshua Clottey vacated in order to fight Miguel Cotto in June. Scores were 116-112 and 116-113 for Hlatshwayo and 115-113 for Rodriguez.
Now, it looks like talks are sparking for a fight between Hlatshwayo and WBC titleholder Andre Berto. Berto (25-0, 19 KO) was recently lowballed in a negotiation with Shane Mosley. You might recall that Berto nearly fought Mosley in January, when Antonio Margarito was being difficult at the negotiating table, but Margarito-Mosley wound up happening, and Berto fought Luis Collazo. Berto then beat 140-pound titleholder Juan Urango in May.
A Berto-Hlatshwayo matchup is unlikely to excite much of anyone. Hlatshwayo (29-1-1, 10 KO) has zero name in America and likely isn't much of a challenge for Berto, who would probably be able to cruise again on pure talent, which he's been doing against the likes of Urango, Steve Forbes, Miki Rodriguez, Michel Trabant, and others. We know what he can do against guys on that level. What we want to find out is what he can do against the short list of the welterweight elite, namely Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey or Paul Williams, if Williams were able to move back down.
It's also been no secret that Berto's promoter Lou DiBella has been trying to protect his fighter. The WBC wants Berto to rematch Collazo, but the Berto side appears to have little interest, and Collazo is rumored to be demanding more money than is really reasonable anyway. When HBO was trying to put together Berto's May fight, they wound up settling for Urango after DiBella reportedly wanted Berto to get a soft touch, since Berto had taken a tough fight in January, the first one of his career.
We'll have to see what shakes out, but I'd be quicker to bet on Berto-Hlatshwayo than DiBella and Golden Boy putting together Mosley-Berto before the end of 2009.