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Berto vs Alexander: Fight preview and matchup

Andre Berto and Devon Alexander meet in a must-win fight to stay relevant at 147.

Andre Berto

Shawn Porter v Andre Berto Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Record: 31-5 (24 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 5-5 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’6½” / 68½” ... Age: 34

Thoughts: I like Andre Berto. I don’t mean any disrespect when I say this, and I know how it might come off, but Berto fights like an absolute madman, and I like watching him fight.

He’s limited. Once upon a time, many moons ago now, HBO had Berto positioned as the future star of the welterweight division. They showcased him in fights against the likes of Miguel Figueroa and David Estrada and Michel Trabant, pure also-rans, because they thought they had a future superstar on their hands. They showed him beating Miki Rodriguez for the vacant WBC welterweight title in 2008; Rodriguez was another also-ran, it was a gift-wrapped title for the young rising star.

Then there was Steve Forbes, Berto beat him handily, too, but Forbes had a brief run of some notoriety and had a great story for TV networks to use in video packages. The first sign that all wasn’t as advertised came in 2009, when Berto had to survive a terribly tough challenge from crafty southpaw Luis Collazo. Without a brilliant final round, Berto would have lost that fight.

We learned two things about Berto that night. First of all, he was plenty beatable. Second of all, he wasn’t gonna go easy. With the fight on the line, Berto fought like a maniac and pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.

Juan Urango, Carlos Quintana, and Freddy Hernandez fell next, easier outings than the one with Collazo. Then came the famous 2011 war with Victor Ortiz. It was Ortiz’s shining moment, a win and a world title going his way, but it was Berto’s, too. Both fighters were down early, both fighters fought savagely, both thrilled in a Fight of the Year.

It’s never really been the same for Berto since. Once the actual loss came, the book was written on Andre Berto, and he’s never forced anyone to edit it. He beat Jan Zaveck, then lost to Robert Guerrero in a brutal fight, and then to Jesus Soto Karass in another war, where Berto fought with a bad injury but wouldn’t go away until he was finally stopped in the 12th.

He came back to pick up victories over Steve Upsher Chambers and Josesito Lopez after missing 14 months due to surgery, then got the big call to face Floyd Mayweather in Floyd’s proper boxing retirement bout in 2015. Mayweather toyed with him, basically, as Berto was no real threat to a fighter on that level.

A rematch with Ortiz, five years later, came in April 2016. Ortiz dropped Berto in round two, but Berto stormed back and knocked Ortiz out in the fourth. It paled in comparison to their first fight. Berto fought just once last year, and was thrashed by Shawn Porter.

He’s now been out of action for about 15 and a half months. He turns 35 in September. This fight could end up a farewell for Andre Berto. He’s taken a lot of punishment, been through the wars, and didn’t look against Porter like he had a whole lot left. But Porter is a different animal than Devon Alexander, too, and Berto, as always, won’t lose quietly, even if he’s gonna lose. He’ll make anyone truly earn it, save for someone who just vastly outweighs him in talent like a Mayweather.

Devon Alexander

PBC on ESPN: Devon Alexander v Aron Martinez Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Record: 27-4-1 (14 KO) ... Streak: D1 ... Last 5: 2-2-1 ... Last 10: 6-3-1 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5’8½” / 69” ... Age: 31

Thoughts: Alexander is a smarter, more cerebral fighter than Berto. At his best, the St. Louis southpaw likes to work behind his jab and set everything up from there, doesn’t take a lot of risks, doesn’t wow you, but gets the job done.

Alexander is coming off of an idiotic draw against Victor Ortiz in February, a fight that Alexander absolutely deserved to win. And it wasn’t even one of those fights where Volatile Vic melted down or didn’t do his job. Ortiz fought pretty well, and gave a hell of an effort. He was there to win. He just didn’t, and he wasn’t particularly close to it. I had it 117-111 for Alexander, nine rounds to three. Devon looked sharp. He stifled Ortiz.

Alexander’s career hit a really rough patch in 2013-15. He lost to Shawn Porter in 2013. OK, Shawn Porter’s a good fighter, it happens. He beat Jesus Soto Karass, as he should have. Then he lost to Amir Khan. Again, OK, Khan’s a good fighter and styles make fights, and Alexander was, in all reality, perfectly made for Khan to look good against. And Khan looked great, winning nearly every round.

Then Devon lost to Aron Martinez. Martinez fought a determined fight, he was great to watch on that night. But let’s be serious: he should not beat Devon Alexander, even with styles making fights.

Alexander was addicted to painkillers.

“It was after the Martinez fight,” he said. “Me and my wife were watching a movie and I blacked out. My wife said I woke up, said I blacked out, and the ambulances were there. I was, like, ‘What happened? Why are these people in my house?’ and she’s, like, ‘You blacked out!’ That scared me straight. That scared the hell out of me.”

So he went through the hardest fight of his life, kicking an addiction. Now he’s back in the game. He beat veteran Walter Castillo last November, then had the Ortiz fight, which should have been a triumph for him. It wasn’t quite that, but he’s still here, still in the mix in the welterweight division. Now he faces Andre Berto. The winner stays in the mix. The loser is either back to the drawing board or basically done as a serious player.

Matchup Grade: C+. On paper, I think the styles favor Alexander, but I generally favor the smarter fighter in a matchup like this one. Berto is too reckless, and he’s gotten slower with age, as everyone does, and, well, he’s just not that good anymore. That said, Devon isn’t going to play with him the way Mayweather did, or maul him the way Porter did, and between those fights, he ripped Ortiz. Berto is a warrior, he still has that mentality, and if he’s gonna go out, he’ll go out on his shield. It’s not a bad fight, and there is some relevance on the line. But being realistic, even the winner isn’t that serious of a threat to the top dogs at 147. Those guys are all younger and just too good at this point of their careers. So while the winner of this fight may in fact wind up in some type of title fight sooner than later, would it be a good title fight? Not really.


  • Peter Quillin vs J’Leon Love: Once upon a time, a meeting between these two at 168 might’ve been seen as a future marquee matchup. Then Love (24-1-1, 13 KO) got knocked out by Porky Medina, which was four years ago, and basically disappeared. He’s fought since then, mind you — in fact, he’s gone 6-0-1 since then — but against limited opposition. Basically, he stopped trying to climb the ladder. He just sat on the thing, toward the lower-middle. Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KO) is a former titleholder at 160 who drew with Andy Lee in 2015, and then was blitzed in 85 seconds by Daniel Jacobs that same year, eight months later. Quillin fell off the face of the earth after the Jacobs fight. He didn’t fight at all in 2016, and only once last year, beating .500 fighter Dashon Johnson by decision over eight rounds. So this is a matchup where both guys are trying to remind us that they exist. Love is 30, Quillin is 35. I can’t say with any certainty that either of them has much to offer at this point, but we’ll see. Matchup Grade: C
  • Sergey Lipinets vs Erick Bone: Lipinets (13-1, 10 KO) held a 140-pound title briefly before losing in a game effort to Mikey Garcia earlier this year. No shame in that, Mikey is a top pound-for-pound talent. Bone (20-5, 8 KO) has been used plenty as a professional opponent by the PBC matchmakers, and he’s getting that call again. The fight is what it is, Lipinets moving up to 147 to test the waters against someone he should beat even if the test doesn’t go perfectly. Matchup Grade: D+

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