A possible September 3 fight on HBO between welterweight titlist Jan Zaveck of Slovenia and Andre Berto is in talks, according to BoxingScene.com, giving further strength to a rumor that has been building up since shortly after Berto lost to Victor Ortiz in April.
Berto, who dropped the WBC belt and his undefeated record with that loss, is hoping to get right back into the title mix. Zaveck holds the IBF strap, which he won in 2009 from Isaac Hlatshwayo. He has since defended it against Rodolfo Martinez, Rafal Jackiewicz, and most recently, American mid-level gatekeeper Paul Delgado.
But Zaveck tells Mark Bergmann of groundandpound.de that he's ready for a step up against Berto, and that he's got no problem traveling to the United States for the fight, even though he'd be the "champion" and Berto his challenger.
Zaveck (31-1, 18 KO) is, as I mentioned back in May when the welterweight rankings on our site changed following Pacquiao vs Mosley, probably a better fighter than I had been giving him credit for being. He's tough, he's sturdy, he's got reasonable power, and he's a pretty smart fighter, too. At 35, the time for him to take a shot like this is now.
But though I think Zaveck is a quality fighter, Berto is unquestionably a step up from the guys that Zaveck has faced. Frankly from the way he talks about it, I'm not even sure that he understood that Delgado was such a pathetic opponent for a "world champion" to be facing. The IBF had Delgado ranked and approved him, and that's the way things work sometimes.
I would have to favor Berto, who is much faster and much more explosive. But it's also a question of how Berto comes back from a first pro loss. We've already seen he's sporting the ink of the damned, and better fighters than Berto have flamed out gloriously in the past. Combine that with the fact that Zaveck is no pushover and will be trying like hell to make a good impression for the U.S. audience seeing him largely for the first time, and I think it's a pretty interesting fight.