A potentially excellent year-end welterweight double-header from HBO has hit a big roadblock, and its name is Andre Berto.
The WBC welterweight titlist has a deal in place to fight contender Isaac Hlatshwayo, and the cable giant wants to pair that fight with a headlining attraction between WBA titleholder Shane Mosley and top contender Joshua Clottey. Obviously, the network would be hoping that Mosley and Berto both win and could then potentially square off in a bigger money fight in the spring of 2010.
But HBO is only offering a total of $750,000 for the Berto-Hlatshwayo bout, and the December 26 date for the card is also bothering Berto, who doesn't want to make weight on Christmas Day.
Truth be told, HBO created this "monster," if you will. Berto has never been a TV draw even once, and they've been overpaying for his fights for years now so that they could lock him down as one of their stars of the future. I think he has that type of talent and appeal for sure, but they can't be surprised that he's kind of insulted by an offer of $750K when he's now a recognized titlist and would be fighting a top 10 guy in the division.
I'm going to bet that either way, HBO will have Mosley and Clottey squaring off on December 26, and frankly that's the fight that really matters anyway. Berto-Hlatshwayo doesn't sound a whole lot more competitive to me than Berto-Urango or Berto-Rodriguez. I'm not saying Hlatshwayo isn't a better fighter than those guys (or in the case of Urango, a better matchup against Berto), but he's still not the level of guy that's going to really test Andre Berto, who has coasted on pure physical skill in every HBO fight we've seen him in besides the January tooth-and-nail battle with Luis Collazo.
Besides, if Berto-Hlatshwayo ends up elsewhere or off TV, then is it really going to matter to HBO? If Andre beats Hlatshwayo and Mosley beats Clottey, and they come with a good money offer for Mosley-Berto, do you really think Andre Berto and Dan Goossen are going to turn it down because they're so upset by HBO's "low-ball" offer?
And for the record, it's not a low-ball offer. That's pretty fair considering that Berto-Hlatshwayo isn't going to be responsible for 1/20th of the audience for the proposed show, in large part because Hlatshwayo has no name value whatsoever. It isn't a bad fight on paper (more of a B.A.D. fight, really), but there's not much money in it. It sort of reminds me of the Klassen-Guerrero fight from August 22.
Bottom line: Hope that Mosley-Clottey gets done, because that could be a hell of a good fight. Neither of those guys back down. I think Mosley wins that one fairly wide because Clottey just isn't a finisher and Shane fights stupid aggressive with a cast iron chin, but it could be damn entertaining.