Tuesday, October 03, 2023  |



DiBella: Berto in tough against IBF titleholder Zaveck

Fighters Network

Don't expect former WBC welterweight titleholder Andre Berto to have an easy time of it when he challenges IBF beltholder Jan Zaveck of Germany on Sept. 3.

That's an assertion that comes from Berto's promoter Lou DiBella.

"Zaveck is very rugged, a very good boxer. Smart. Not a huge puncher, but he's not without power. And I think that's he's got an excellent jab," said DiBella.

"So it's no accident that this guy is the world champion. So this is a very, very difficult fight, particularly coming off of a fight that Andre had an off night in."

The 27-year-old Berto (27-1, 21 knockouts) will be attempting to rebound from April's unanimous-decision loss to Victor Ortiz when he meets the 35-year-old Zaveck (31-1, 18 KOs) at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Miss.

Not only has Zaveck won six straight fights, but he's coming off of his fourth stoppage during that run — a fifth-round knockout of Paul Delgado in February.

The steel-chinned Zaveck suffered his lone defeat by split-decision to Poland's Rafael Jackiewicz in November of 2008, but has since avenged that loss with a majority decision in September of last year.

Berto, meanwhile, endured a brutal battle against Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) during which both fighters were down twice.

Berto was dropped in the first round as well as the final seven seconds of the sixth, and Ortiz was floored in the second round as well as early in the sixth.

"After the Ortiz fight, Andre went to Indonesia alone for a while and really got his head together. I know that he's much more focused," said DiBella.

"Andre's a little bit chippy in terms of his attitude and intensity, but I sort of like that. So I think that his head is in the right place for this one."

Berto said that he will do whatever it takes to defeat Zaveck, even as he will focus more on using his boxing skills instead of going full force for the knockout.

"I think that the fans have seen me put myself in harms way, and they've seen that I have the heart to bang it out when I have to," said Berto, who had scored two straight knockouts before losing to Ortiz.

"But they've also seen me box. So at this point, I definitely need to just come away with a victory. I just need to win, and that's it."

Zaveck will be making the fourth defense of the belt he won by third-round knockout over South Africa's Isaac Hlatshwayo in December of 2009.

Hlatswayo was 29-1-1 with 10 knockouts before facing Zaveck, and already had gone the distance in a loss to the hard-punching Kendall Holt.

Zaveck stopped Hlatswayo for the first time in his career, and he did so in forward-moving, punishing fashion.

Zaveck floored Hlatswayo once in the second round as well as twice more in the third before Hlatswayo succumbed in front of his partisan fans in Johannesburg.

"I expect a really good fight from Zaveck," said DiBella. "I also expect that people who are not familiar with Zaveck are going to see that he's much, much better than they're thinking."

DiBella compares Zaveck favorably to Ukrainian WBO junior middleweight beltholder Sergei Dzinziruk (37-1, 23 KOs) of Germany, who was knocked out in the eighth round in March by middleweight Sergio Martinez, another fighter DiBella promotes.

Although Dzinziruk hit the canvas five times in a clash of southpaws against Martinez — including three times in the final round — Dzinziruk was a rugged technician with a tenacious jab.

"If you look at the tapes, you know, this guy Zaveck reminds me of Dzinzurik. And yeah, Sergio beat Dzinziruk up and Sergio's the best fighter in the world," said DiBella.

"But Dzinziruk hurt Sergio in the seventh round, and Dzinziruk gave Sergio a tough, tough fight. So Zaveck, with his style, reminds me a lot of Dzinziruk."

Berto will be fighting Zaveck four days prior to his 28th birthday.

"This ain't going to be no different. We're just focusing on fight time and then we'll party afterward," said Berto.

"I'm going to get back into the mix and do what I do, which is to crack heads. Then I will win this title and everything else is going to follow."


Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]