We hear all the time that two fighters need to win and can't afford to lose. It's always BS, at least to some degree. And saying as much about this Friday's PBC fights on Spike would be BS to some degree, too. But if any of the four welterweights in action want to find themselves in the title mix any time soon, it really is a must-win situation for each of them.
In the main event, former titleholder Andre Berto (29-3, 22 KO) will take on the tough Josesito Lopez (33-6, 19 KO) in what promises to be an all-action affair, while another former titlist, Shawn Porter (24-1-1, 15 KO) returns to take on Roberto Garcia (36-3, 23 KO) in the co-feature.
These are not marquee fights between superstars, but all four of these guys are legitimate fighters and have either been near the top, or have come very close already in their careers. Berto, 31, was once an Exhibit A type for the fan and media crusade against Al Haymon, as he was paid large sums of money for mediocre fights on HBO for years. In the last few years, however, Berto has become one of the most reliable action fighters in boxing. His 2011 brawl with Victor Ortiz was named Fight of the Year by several outlets, and since then he's had wars with Jan Zaveck, Robert Guerrero, and Jesus Soto Karass, too.
Berto's last fight was a tune-up win over Steve Upsher Chambers in September 2014, a needed comeback fight after a lengthy time out of the ring following shoulder surgery due to injuries sustained against Soto Karass. Any dreams of Berto becoming an elite fighter have probably faded at this point, but in the meantime, he's become appointment TV when matched tough, and Lopez is pretty tough.
Lopez, 30, has been trying to rebuild his career following back-to-back losses to Canelo Alvarez and Marcos Maidana in 2012-13, a punishing pair of fights that saw him bullied by the far bigger Alvarez and stopped in a competitive slugfest with Maidana. Before those two fights, Lopez scored a stunning upset of Victor Ortiz, which made his career and set up a big payday to get steamrolled by Alvarez.
Since the losses, Lopez has won three straight over Mike Arnaoutis, Aaron Martinez, and Rafael Cobos. None of those were big fights, but Lopez needed the boosts and the confidence. He wasn't shying away from big fights, he was simply working his way back to another chance. Now, he's got one.
Porter, 27, is looking to get back in the race following his first career loss to Kell Brook in August, where he dropped the IBF welterweight title. That followed three impressive wins over Julio Diaz, Devon Alexander, and Paulie Malignaggi, where Porter seemed to be coming into his own.
Brook turned out to be a top-level welterweight, and that doesn't mean that Porter isn't. Garcia, 34, has been on the fringes of contention for a while now. The Mexican fighter has won eight straight since a 2010 loss to Antonio Margarito. His other two losses came way back in 2003 and 2004, and a chance to knock off Porter on national TV is a big one.
At his best, Porter is an aggressive fighter with good power who brings heavy pressure to his opponents. But Garcia will have advantages in height and reach, and he's riding a nice winning streak and surely coming in with plenty of confidence.
Who do you like in these fights?