Floyd Mayweather is boxing, for all intents and purposes. Whether that idea feeds his already enormous ego is a discussion for another time, but seriously, now that he's dispatched Manny Pacquiao in the same ho-hum fashion he has almost everyone else over his career, he is the name that most people out there think of when they think of today's brand of the sweet science. For better or worse, Mayweather rules the sport.
So his September 12 return against Andre Berto might be a head scratcher for a lot of people. This is how he follows the once-in-a-generation showdown with Pacquiao? Against some guy who's 3-3 in his last six fights and isn't seen by anyone as a top 10 welterweight as of this moment? The casual audience will largely not know who Andre Berto is, or why they should even consider paying $70 to watch this on pay-per-view.
First up, let's get this out of the way: they probably shouldn't pay $70 to watch this on pay-per-view. It's not a compelling matchup, which just about every boxing web site and periodical will tell you. But for the sake of discussion, let's delve into Andre Berto's career -- who he is, where he's been, and where he's at today.
Berto, 31, is part of a fighting family. His father, Dieuseul Berto, had a brief professional mixed martial arts career, going 0-3 with two fights in 1996 (including a loss to Geza Kalman at UFC 10) and one in 2001. His brother, Edson Berto, has had a more notable MMA career, going 17-12 overall between 2004 and 2014. Edson never made it to UFC, but he did fight for EliteXC and most recently with Bellator.
Andre took up boxing the way a lot of kids wind up interested in the sport. He was bullied as a child, and his dad brought him into the sport as a way to defend himself. Berto became a star amateur, winning 22 state titles in Florida, two National PAL championships, two National Golden Gloves championships, a bronze at the 2003 World Amateur Championships. He competed for Haiti, his parents' home country, at the 2004 Olympics, after some controversy attempting to qualify for Team USA. Berto lost in the opening round of the Olympic games, and turned pro just a few months later.
Berto was seen as a star prospect, and is one of the earliest examples of Al Haymon's great influence. Much of Berto's rise up the ranks was televised on ESPN2, HBO, and Showtime, and in particular, his fights on HBO began to get some flak, as obvious mismatches were showcased on the premier boxing network in the United States. (This was a time when HBO and Haymon were friendly, and the relationship routinely criticized.)
Berto pretty much cruised through his first 23 pro fights before a tough night in January 2009 against Luis Collazo, a gritty veteran with an awkward southpaw style. Collazo took Berto to the limit, but Berto responded to that in the 12th round especially, going for broke and ultimately winning a narrow unanimous decision, which he had certainly earned. His next three fights against Juan Urango, Carlos Quintana, and Freddy Hernandez proved less challenging. He was able to hug-and-slug his way through Urango, stopped Quintana in eight, and got rid of Hernandez in two minutes.
To be entirely fair to Berto and his team, Andre had attempted to make a big fight with Shane Mosley for early 2010. Mosley, who had beaten the snot out of Antonio Margarito in January 2009, signed on for the fight, as did Berto. But Berto pulled out of the bout after the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, which caused loss in Andre's family. Mosley signed to fight Floyd Mayweather instead, and Berto fought Quintana in April.
In April 2011, Berto was matched with Victor Ortiz. Andre was making the sixth defense of the WBC welterweight title that he had won in 2008, when he was all but gifted the belt in a matchup against Miki Rodriguez on HBO. Ortiz was kind of at a make-or-break point. Another celebrated prospect, his odd behavior had gotten the better of him a few times, with a pair of losses (one by DQ, one when he quit) and a draw against Lamont Peterson where Ortiz seemed to all but give the fight away down the stretch.
With his back against the wall, though, Ortiz showed up big time, flooring Berto in the opening round. Berto fought back, though, dropping Ortiz in the second round. Both went down in the sixth. It was a true war, named by The RING the 2011 Fight of the Year. Ultimately, Ortiz took the belt, and handed Berto his first professional loss.
Less than five months later, Berto returned to face IBF titleholder Jan Zaveck on HBO. In another tough fight, Berto prevailed, stopping Zaveck after five rounds when Zaveck couldn't continue on due to a right eye injury.
Thanks to a failed drug test (later ruled a contamination) that scrapped a planned June 2012 rematch with Ortiz, it would be another 14 months before Berto returned to the ring, facing Robert Guerrero in November 2012. Guerrero had jumped from lightweight to welterweight earlier in the year, and brought the fight right to Berto, scoring knockdowns in the first and second rounds. Berto, as always, fought with everything he had, though his face became a bloody, swollen mess over the course of what was a truly brutal fight on both men. Guerrero won, and went on to face Floyd Mayweather, just as Ortiz had after beating Berto.
Eight months later, Berto was upset by veteran gatekeeper Jesus Soto Karass, stopped in the 12th round despite his best efforts to fight through a shoulder injury, something that had plagued him in the past. This time, Berto couldn't put off surgery any longer, and went under the knife. He returned last September, beating Steve Upsher Chambers over 10 rounds, and stopped Josesito Lopez in six rounds earlier this year in a PBC on Spike main event, which saw Lopez leading on two of three cards after five rounds.
So the question is, why is Andre Berto fighting Floyd Mayweather now?
The answer is pretty easy: because he's there, he's available, he's credible, and he's not a serious threat. Berto (30-3, 23 KO) is only a challenge in that he's a capable professional boxer with punching power and a lot of heart, and if Mayweather makes uncharacteristic mistakes, he could be dangerous. That's unlikely, as Floyd Mayweather has only rarely made serious mistakes in fights, and never against someone like Berto.
Does Andre Berto have a style to trouble Floyd? In a word, no, unless he changes dramatically. He is physically strong, a broad-shouldered guy who could in theory do some of what Marcos Maidana did against Mayweather, bullying him and letting his hands fly. But that's not really been Berto's approach too often in the past. He's been a hesitant fighter at times, and since returning from the shoulder surgery, seems a bit cautious about letting it fly, and that's about the only hope he has against Mayweather, who is too skilled, too quick, and too good for Berto otherwise.
Should I Buy This Fight?
That depends. Are you a big Mayweather fan? A big Berto fan? Are you a super diehard hardcore boxing "head"? If you said yes to any of those questions, then sure, why not? You basically know what you're getting into more likely than not.
But if you said no to all of those questions, then this is really not worth it. The undercard may be solid, but if you're not a diehard fan, then does Badou Jack vs George Groves really pique your interest?
Anyone who tells you that Berto "sucks" is overstating the reasons this fight isn't interesting on paper. Berto does not suck. Andre Berto is a good fighter. He's an admirable fighter, a tough guy who has fought his heart out when his back has been against the wall. But Floyd Mayweather has flat-out routed at least a dozen guys who are as good as Berto, and beaten about a dozen more who are better.