Jake Donovan of BoxingScene wrote an article with a title that describes the subject perfectly: "Time for Andre Berto to Remove the Bib"
Really couldn't have said it better myself, and yet the same thoughts have dominated my mind when thinking about Berto's mundane decision title defense over Juan Urango this past Saturday evening.
Berto (25-0, 19 KO) is a former Olympian, a highly-regarded prospect, now a titleholder with three defenses under his belt, and still only one victory that I think has said much about him. As much as I believe Berto could be a tremendous asset to boxing with a fan-friendly style, he seems more and more to be willing to tread water, so to speak.
His January win over Luis Collazo proved he has the guts and the firepower to win a gritty fight where he actually gets challenged. But in his numerous HBO showcases before he won a vacant title over Miki Rodriguez (a ludicrous title opponent), we've seen little else from Berto that really holds up when considering his chances against the likes of Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey or Miguel Cotto, the current cream of the welterweight crop.
He probably has twice the natural talent that Clottey does, for instance, but we know Clottey's tougher than nails. Does he have the grit to dig down again and face that challenge head-on? Mosley and Cotto can match him in skills, and have proven their worth in past bouts, including a minor classic against one another.
Do you see Berto standing in there and trading with Mosley? Or do you see him grabbing for the clinch, frustrated and overly tactical?
There's nothing wrong with being a smart fighter, and in many ways that's all he did against Urango this past weekend. Urango is a 140-pound fighter with bomb power, a sturdy chin, and little else. Had the fight gone "right," we could've seen a hell of a war. Instead Berto was content to pick at Urango and grab onto him whenever he felt necessary, which at many points seemed to go into overkill.
I'm an Andre Berto fan. There's really nothing I don't like about him. And where I want to hold back and give him some credit is with this: When Antonio Margarito was trying to bluff his way out of fighting Shane Mosley and get more money for it, Andre Berto put his name into the proceedings and negotiations took place. He seemed willing. He seemed ready. Instead, he wound up fighting Luis Collazo and Mosley thrashed Margarito. Had that not come off the way it did, we might be looking at a very different world of boxing right now.
Question is, though, if it had been Mosley-Berto, would the different world of boxing include a lot of "What's Andre Berto gonna do now?" stories in January?
He's not to the level where he's earned any real contempt, but the questioning and the impatience are deserved. There's no room for another showcase fight. It's time for him to either take his place among the elite or get back to the drawing board should he fail to do so. No more Urango, Forbes, Rodriguez or Trabant. Now it's time for Lou DiBella and Co. to work on a fight against the Mosleys, Cottos and Clotteys of the world.