Saturday night's WBC welterweight title fight between Andre Berto and Carlos Quintana pits a young, unbeaten current titlist against a former titleholder whose reign was short, but who has twice in the past played major spoiler to guys who had no losses and were heavily favored.
Our full preview of the Berto-Quintana matchup, as well as the Caballero-Yordan undercard fight, will go up on Friday afternoon.
Fight 1: Michel Trabant (W-RTD-6 / February 9, 2008)
HBO aired all five of the fights we'll discuss, plus some of Berto's earlier bouts. It's been talked about before, but in some ways, HBO paying a relative premium to air garbage mismatches like this one, the next two, and some others before them kind of made Berto and DiBella Entertainment (as Berto's promoter) something of a monster, and they can only blame themselves. In locking up Andre Berto as an HBO Face of the Future: Today!, they allowed Berto an ego earlier than he should have had one. I'm not saying it's a big, ugly ego, but he thinks highly of himself, and in a lot of ways, he should. He's a good young fighter with plenty of promise and marketability. But he's not yet a star, despite years of HBO exposure and hype. Last year, DiBella plainly stated that after Collazo, they wanted an easier follow-up, as if one tough fight while calling yourself "welterweight champion" for a year gives you reason to pull on the reins. But can you blame them? In the past, HBO proved willing to accept crap and televise it, because Berto was on the rise. And we'll get to the belt in a moment.
Trabant came in with a sparkling 43-2-1 record, but he stood no chance whatsoever against Berto, who was about three times as fast and twice as powerful. Berto is a star-level boxer. Trabant is a guy with a fluffed-up record and regional ability. This fight was a clear mismatch from the very first round, as Trabant couldn't even pray his way into keeping pace with Berto. After six one-sided rounds, Trabant was finished.
Fight 2: Miki Rodriguez (W-TKO-7 / June 21, 2008)
Here's where we talk about Berto's laughable paper title. I'm not saying any of this to insult Andre Berto, or say that he shouldn't be proud to carry his belt, but the WBC may as well have gift-wrapped it. After Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced his retirement, the WBC in their infinite wisdom decided that Berto, who had zero world-class wins on his record, and Miguel Angel "Miki" Rodriguez should fight for the vacant title belt.
It's crap like this that makes me go on and on about these hypocrite criminals as much as I do to this day. I mean, I know you all know that these guys are full of it, but if someone comes by who doesn't know that, I want it to be on the front page when I get a chance to really let loose. Rodriguez came in 29-2 with zero substantial wins. He had been put into a WBC eliminator back in 2005 against Carlos Baldomir, and I'm guessing the WBC did that because they figured Rodriguez would beat Baldomir, but Baldomir won and life went on. Rodriguez won a couple fights and they gave him a crack at the vacant belt. It made no sense then, makes no sense now. This is the same organization that "suspended" Cris Arreola because he cursed on pay cable television.
Anyway, Rodriguez was game and bless him, he tried, but this was basically a repeat of the Trabant fight and several others that Berto had already been in. He thrashed an inferior foe and picked up another win, but this time he got to leave the building calling himself "world champion." This is where Andre Berto got his belt.
Fight 3: Steve Forbes (W-UD-12 / September 27, 2008)
I know Steve Forbes has plenty of fans. He's a great guy. He's humble, he's soft-spoken, he works his ass off, and he was a fine, fine fighter for many years. But this title shot was horrible. As a welterweight, Forbes is nothing more than a gatekeeper. This shot at Berto's belt accomplished three things, in my estimation:
- Gave Berto his biggest name foe to date
- Gave Berto what essentially amounted to a gimme win
- Gave Forbes a "hey, thanks" for taking that crud fight at 150 pounds against Oscar de la Hoya in May 2008
Forbes is a good boxer, but physically cannot keep up with a good welterweight. He's not fast, he has no punch, and he got by on slickness, intelligence and determination at his best. He was robbed of a win at 140 pounds over Demetrius Hopkins in 2007, but otherwise never did much of anything over 130 pounds. I also wanted to note, since I don't know that we ever did, that "2 Pound" was upset by Harrison Cuello in his return to the ring in March, after a year off. He's all but done, and he was probably getting close to medium-well by the time he even got to Berto.
Fight 4: Luis Collazo (W-UD-12 / January 17, 2009)
Berto won his paper belt against Miki Rodriguez. He defended it against Steve Forbes. He earned it last year against Luis Collazo in a tremendous fight that kicked off a good year for HBO boxing.
Collazo is a bizarre guy when you analyze his record. He has almost no quality wins. Back in 2005, he beat Jose Antonio Rivera and then Miguel Angel "Santa Tokyo" Gonzalez, who was 35 and would be done after a couple wins in 2006. Those two wins, the best of Collazo's career, were five full years ago at this point, and had been four years out when he fought Berto. Since then, he has beaten this motley crew: Artur Atadzhanov, Edvan dos Santos Barros, Russell Jordan and David Gogichaishvili.
Of course, many argue he deserved the win over Ricky Hatton, but he didn't get it. (I thought he beat Hatton, but it was a close fight.) So here you have Luis Collazo, still considered by many to be among the ten best in the world at 147 (yours truly among them), and he has no worthwhile wins in five years now. That's weird. But then you see him fight someone good, and you get it. The guy can box. He's slick, but not too slick. He's not feather-fisted, but he's not a huge puncher. He seems to fight up to his competition when he has the chances.
In this fight, he had the chance, and again made the most of it, as he did against Hatton. Well, almost anyway. Berto was hurt early by Collazo, and quickly found himself in the fight of his life. In fact, Berto seemed almost lost in the ring at times, particularly early. Collazo gave a few rounds away, keeping the fight fairly tight.
When the 12th round rolled around, I had it dead even. Berto needed to win the round to keep his belt, at least as far as I figured, and that turned out to be the case on the official cards too. Berto finally proved himself a genuine top-tier welterweight with a stunning 12th round, as he came out guns blazing and completely overwhelmed Collazo, who couldn't get out of the blocks that round and basically had to cover up for three minutes as the young titlist staked his claim on the W. Berto won a very close decision in a fantastic fight. This was Andre's real coming out party, and at the same time again proved the worth of Luis Collazo. Collazo, for the record, travels to Turkey on June 5 to face Selcuk Aydin.
Fight 5: Juan Urango (W-UD-12 / May 30, 2009)
Following the Collazo fight, as I said earlier, DiBella and Berto wanted something easier. There was talk of Zab Judah, but as usual with Zab, it wound up being just talk. So Berto fought 140-pound titlist Juan Urango. It was a fight, like last Saturday's Juarez-Litzau snoozer, that could have been a war, or it could have been what it wound up being. It seems to me (and I haven't kept stats on this or anything) that when a fight can go one of two ways like that, it usually stinks.
Berto-Urango stunk to high heaven. It was a one-sided affair, but not with Berto battering the ultra slow, plodding Urango. Instead, Berto did a little work here and there, clearly won rounds, and also held and stayed the hell away from Urango as much as he possibly could. The boo-birds came out, and after the fight, analysis of Berto was a bit harsh. It was not the sort of performance people were looking for, to say the least.
Berto then signed on to fight Shane Mosley in January of this year, but that fight was canceled when the massive earthquake ravaged Haiti, where Andre's family is from, and where much of his family still lives. We may never know what would have happened in that matchup. Mosley was the overwhelming favorite as far as I could tell, but everyone was looking forward to it. It would have been the biggest challenge of Berto's young career. As replacement fights go, Carlos Quintana isn't bad.
Now we look at Carlos Quintana's scattershot last five fights after the jump.
Fight 1: Christopher Henry (W-TKO-4 / September 29, 2007)
Since this fight isn't interesting to discuss, let's talk about why it happened at all. This was a comeback fight for Quintana after he was savagely torn to pieces by Miguel Cotto in December 2006, a bit less than six months after Quintana upset Joel Julio. Julio was ESPN.com's Prospect of the Year and was an unbeaten slugger and heavy favorite going into the fight with Quintana. But Quintana just outfoxed him and won a clear decision. Cotto then took Quintana out to the woodshed, beating the tar out of his fellow Puerto Rican, forcing Quintana to quit after five rounds of pain. Henry was just a comeback opponent, and Quintana beat him.
Fight 2: Paul Williams (W-UD-12 / February 9, 2008)
That fight earned Quintana this fight. Same show as Berto-Trabant, in fact. Paul Williams needed an opponent, and Quintana answered the call. It was his second shot at a welterweight trinket (the Cotto fight had been for the vacant WBA belt). Williams was white hot, having beaten Antonio Margarito in his last fight. It's sometimes easy to forget in the boxing landscape of today that Margarito was considered in 2007 to be an indestructible machine of a terrifying man, too. And Paul Williams beat him. Margarito would then beat Miguel Cotto, and everyone had him as a God made of mountain stone once again. Boxing is a fickle sport.
Williams lost this fight clear as day, but I think Harold Lederman had it scored for Williams on the HBO broadcast, which I remember only because of Lederman's bizarre insistence that Paul Williams was constantly landing his jab, which just was not happening. Maybe Harold had an awful angle. I don't know. I'm sure if he watched the fight on TV later he changed his mind. I mean, we all get things wrong, I'm not harping on Lederman or anything, but that one always stuck with me. This was Quintana's greatest performance. I think most probably assumed he'd topped out with the win over Julio, but then he pulled this one out. And then...
Fight 3: Paul Williams (L-TKO-1 / June 6, 2008)
...they rematched and Paul Williams knocked the crap out of him 135 seconds.
Fight 4: Joshua Onyango (W-TKO-4 / October 25, 2008)
Bounceback fight over the welter limit. Onyango came with a sub-.500 record and had lost to all the decent fighters he'd ever faced. He's made a career of being a pure pro opponent and bounce-back guy.
Fight 5: Jesse Feliciano (W-TKO-3 / December 5, 2009)
This fight happened because Clottey-Quintana, which had been discussed for the Pavlik-Williams card that never happened, did not. This was off-TV on the Williams-Martinez card at Boardwalk Hall. Feliciano actually floored Quintana in the second round, but Quintana opened up a bad cut on Feliciano's right eyelid, and the fight was stopped in the third round on the doctor's advice.