Shawn Porter is a fighter I am usually excited to watch. He is a top five welterweight. His only two losses were competitive battles with Keith Thurman and Kell Brook, arguably the two best in the division. Porter is a likable guy who fights with an active, pressure style. He might not be a champion, but he is a top contender with box office appeal.
But it is not easy for me to get excited about his bout with Andre Berto this weekend. Berto has not been relevant at the top of the division since losing back-to-back fights to Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass in November 2012 and July 2013.
Since then, his career has relied in large part on smoke and mirrors. He was getting schooled by journeyman Josesito Lopez in March 2015 but caught up to him in Round 6 and dropped him twice. But that was a very spurious stoppage–Lopez hardly looked to be in serious trouble. And I am not one who generally questions a referee’s decision to stop a fight. Even more questionable than the stoppage in that fight was judge Jerry Cantu’s card, which had Berto up three rounds to two. Berto should have been down two to three rounds.
Six months later, Berto was bizarrely selected as the opponent for Floyd Mayweather’s farewell bout. It was clearly nothing more than Mayweather throwing a veteran warrior a big payday. The fight itself was nothing more than a glorified sparring session.
Berto’s current claim to any sort of relevance is his April 2016 KO of Victor Ortiz. Ortiz came into that bout having been knocked out in three or his last five fights. The two wins came over a pair of obscure club fighters. Ortiz knocked Berto down in Round 2 and was clearly winning the early rounds, but Berto caught up to him in Round 4 and knocked him down. Ortiz opted not to continue. One outraged fan threw a cooler of ice on Ortiz as he left the ring.
This is essentially a stay-busy fight for Porter. After losing to Thurman last year, he will have to wait in line to get another major fight. I’d love to see him face Tim Bradley, but that promotional conflicts would make that a tough bout to make.