Speaking with Keith Idec of BoxingScene.com, former WBC welterweight titlist and Saturday night's IBF welterweight title challenger Andre Berto showed real respect for the visiting titleholder, Jan Zaveck, who has earned the praise of boxing fans worldwide for, as he has put it himself, not holding a title hostage in Europe, and choosing to come to America to face a top contender.
"I know Zaveck is coming over from where he’s from, and I respect him a lot for that. You really don’t see too many guys from overseas come over to the States to defend their title. But he’s trying to make a mark here in the States, and it’s going to be a good one."
Berto (27-1, 21 KO) is coming off of his first career loss, to Victor Ortiz on April 16. While Ortiz now lines up for a big money fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr on September 17, Berto must at times wonder what he may have left on the table with the loss to Ortiz -- perhaps a fight with Berto himself, as Mayweather's arrival at that show raised speculation that the winner, expected to be Berto before the fight, would be fighting Mayweather this year. If anything is going to drive Berto to go harder, it might be the knowledge that he left a career opportunity on the table, and lost more than his belt to Ortiz that night in Connecticut.
Zaveck (31-1, 18 KO), who was also commended by Berto's promoter Lou DiBella, is actually being given more of an honest shot by many boxing fans than I expected. Usually when guys come over from Europe they're shrugged off by a lot of boxing fans. Either there is a lack of faith in Berto, more people have seen Zaveck than I thought they had, or people have sought him out on YouTube. Again, there's nothing flashy about Zaveck, but he's a good, strong fighter. Berto will be the favorite for a number of reasons, but I really do like this fight and am looking forward to it. I think it's a terrific matchup between a couple of ten five guys in the weight class, and both should be commended for taking the fight. Neither of them was going to do anything better right now.