There’s been something like disbelief among boxing fans this week in response to the TMZ report that Floyd Mayweather will indeed face Andre Berto in September, in the final bout on his current contract, in what could be the last fight of his career. After Mayweather easily handled Manny Pacquiao last May, it is certainly fair to point out that he lacks any other truly significant opponents, save perhaps undefeated middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
But there are definitely better options that Berto, a former champion who hasn’t looked like a true contender in over three years. Berto’s only truly relevant run in the sport occurred from June 2008, when he captured the vacant WBC welterweight belt, up until he lost that belt to Victor Ortiz in April 2011, in a Fight of the Year war.
Ortiz’s win in that fight earned him a shot at Mayweather and if Berto had prevailed against Ortiz, he would most likely have received the same shot. But four years is a very long time in boxing, and those years have not been kind to Berto.
Berto’s first fight after losing to Ortiz was against Jan Zaveck, in September 2011. Berto won by Round 5 TKO on cuts, but didn’t look spectacular. He then sat out a year, after failing a PED test.
Berto returned in November 2012 and was hammered by Robert Guerrero, getting both of his eyes swollen nearly shut en route to losing by unanimous decision. In his next fight after that, he was stopped in Round 12 by Jesus Soto Karass in July 2013.
Berto lost brutal fights in 2011, 2012 and 2013. It probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea for him to retire after getting knocked out by Karass.
Instead, he fought once in 2014, winning a low-profile, 10-round UD over Steve Chambers in September. So far this year, he has stopped Josesito Lopez in Round 6 of a fight he had been losing for the previous five rounds. It was a ridiculously quick stoppage by referee Raul Caiz Jr. And I don’t make it a habit of criticizing refs for stopping fights. This is the only case in recent years where I have publically done so.
Even during his stretch as an undefeated champion, Berto benefited from a very close, questionable decision against Luis Collazo.
But now, it seems, Berto still finds himself positioned for that shot every fighter from 140 to a 154 wants, the chance to take away Floyd Mayweather’s zero. Mayweather, apparently, wasn’t kidding about wanting to end with an “easy” fight.
Berto has some name recognition and has been in a number of great fights. If this fight ends up being free on the networks, perhaps fans will tune it just to see Mayweather fight one last time, without having to pony up for PPV.
It’s also fair to observe that Berto is as deserving as Chris Algieri was of a shot at Manny Pacquiao. Still, this is not remotely the fight that fans expect when it comes to the pound-for-pound king.