Saturday, April 01, 2023  |



Weekend Review: Berto’s big night

Fighters Network

Evander Holyfield proved next to nothing by knocking out Francois Botha on Saturday. Photo / Mary Ann


Andre Berto: The young titleholder had to refocus on boxing after his gut-wrenching experience in Haiti. He hadn’t fought in 11 months. And he injured his left biceps early in the fight. Still, he beat down a veteran fighter in Carlos Quintana on Saturday night in Sunrise, Fla. In the process, he raised money for relief efforts in the wake of the earthquake in his parents’ homeland. I’d say that was a pretty good night. I’m not sure Berto has the natural gifts to rise to the level of fellow welterweights Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley but he is a very good, courageous fighter who is fun to watch. And, more important, he’s an admirable person.


Carlos Quintana: The former welterweight titleholder left us with the wrong impression by outpointing Paul Williams in 2008. He deserved the victory, outworking his more-talented foe, but their rematch — a first-round KO by Williams — was probably more indicative of reality. Quintana is a good but limited fighter, as his knockout losses to Miguel Cotto, Williams and now Berto indicate. Perhaps making the 147-pound limit for the first time since the Williams rematch sapped his energy, meaning he probably was better off staying at junior middleweight. Quintana has been a welterweight since his fourth fight, in 1998.


Holyfield KOs Botha: Francois Botha was a mediocre heavyweight at his very best. Now, at 41, he can only dream of mediocrity. And two judges had him ahead of 47-year-old Evander Holyfield when Holyfield scored his eighth-round knockout on Saturday. What does that say about the winner? No one should be surprised that the once-great heavyweight champion knocked out someone like Botha. He remains strong and fierce even if his skills and reflexes are badly faded. At the same time, no one should be fooled into thinking he can beat an actual contender at this point. He called out the Klitschkos on Saturday. Um, no.


Celestino Caballero: I’m among those who have wondered whether Caballero really deserves to be on any pound-for-pound list. I wonder a little less now. The fighter who mauled Daud Yordan on the Berto-Quintana undercard was an absolute monster. The Panamanian’s unusual height (5-11, 180cm) for a featherweight and his relentless pressure would make life difficult for any opponent. I don’t want to read too much into the victory because Yordan has limited experience but I don’t see how anyone could watch that and not say, “Whoa, that guy is scary.” Caballero apparently is Yuriorkis Gamboa's mandatory challenger. Tell me that wouldn't be a great fight.


David Estrada: The main event of the Friday Night Fights card was supposed to be then-unbeaten prospect Orlando Lora's moment. Estrada stole it. The veteran from Miami predicted before the fight that he’d break down his less-experienced opponent and proceeded to do so, overwhelming the Mexican with his toughness and tenacity. It was nice to see Estrada have such a night on national television. He has fought bravely in his biggest fights — against Mosley, Kermit Cintron, Berto, Jesus Soto Karass and Luis Carlos Abregu — but always came up short.


Antonio Margarito: No one at a news conference on Tuesday was asking Margarito to admit he knew illegal pads were in his hand wraps before his fight against Shane Mosley early last year if he really didn’t know. He was simply asked (repeatedly) whether a fighter should bear some responsibility for what goes on his body. He refused to do so, instead putting all the blame on former trainer Javier Capetillo. That’s a shame. All he had to say was: “I should’ve known what went into wraps. You can rest assured I’ll know from now on.” I know even many of those who believe he did know about the pads would’ve forgiven him.


David Haye: The heavyweight titleholder announced that he isn’t interested in fighting Bernard Hopkins, whom he described as one of his idols. Good for Haye. He could’ve made a lot of money by facing an opponent with the stature of Hopkins, who wanted to duplicate Roy Jones Jr.’s feat of rising from middleweight to win a heavyweight belt. However, Haye is too big and too good for a 45-year-old version of Hopkins. I think those closest to him would’ve feared for his well being. No one wants to see him go out on his back and badly beaten up, which probably would’ve happened against Haye.


Timothy Bradley-Marcos Maidana: The fighters reportedly have agreed to what will be a classic matchup between an excellent boxer and a murderous puncher on June 19 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. I think Bradley, the more-complete fighter, will outpoint the Argentine because of his speed and all-around ability. However, Maidana, who has stopped all but two of his opponents, undoubtedly will test Bradley’s chin and could end the fight at any time. I can’t wait to see it. Bradley should be given kudos for taking on such a dangerous opponent. More fighters should take such a risk for the good of the sport and their reputations.


Arthur Mercante, in 1995: “A lot of the officials today are in trouble because they do not have experience. They are putting referees in championship matches before they pay their dues. They are putting judges in who have not had the experience. This is the reason there are so many bad decisions. No dishonesty, believe me. It’s just incompetence.” Mercante died at 90 on Saturday.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]