Friday, March 31, 2023  |


Q&A: Berto discusses trainer Hunter, rival Soto Karass

Fighters Network


Florida welterweight Andre Berto shared some thoughts with on Sunday regarding his July 27 clash with hard-charging Jesus Soto Karass in San Antonio, his first under new trainer Virgil Hunter.

A former two-time 147-pound beltholder, Berto (28-2, 22 knockouts) will try to rebound from November’s unanimous-decision loss to Robert Guerrero. Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KOs) is coming off January’s upset majority decision over Selcuk Aydin.

Berto, 29, has also lost to ex-titleholder Victor Ortiz, who, like Guerrero, went on to lose a high-profile bout to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Berto discussed his frustration over the fact that, while he has stumbled against Ortiz and Guerrero — fighters who rose from lower divisions to defeat him — boxers such as Devon Alexander, Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner have all risen from lower divisions to achieve glory by capturing welterweight belts.

A resident of Winter Haven, Fla., Berto also talked about his preparations in Oakland, Calif., under Hunter, who has replaced long-time trainer Tony Morgan, and who has also helped to resurrect the careers of Amir Khan and Alfredo Angulo. So how are you doing, where are you training and who is your trainer?

Andre Berto: I’m feeling good, actually, man, trying to get some rest in today. Just relaxing today a little bit. I’m in the Bay Area. I’m in Oakland. I’m here with Virgil Hunter out here in Oakland. What was your initial conversation like with him, and about how long ago did that take place.

AB: You know, basically, it was just my process. Me and my coach [Morgan] decided to part ways. I basically decided to sit down and I really just wanted to think about it.

There are a lot of guys out there who I respect, and there are guys that genuinely know me as a fighter and who generally know me as a person. I had a few guys that I went to go see and I sat down and I talked to.

I worked out with them, but Virgil was definitely one of those guys in that mix that I’ve known since I was 13, so, me and him got together and did a workout together. That was probably in March or sometime in April.

I just wanted to just sit down and just chop it up and just make sure to see where his mind was when it comes to me, and, and, for me, that was just the process of working out and training with him.

You know, everything just clicked between us. It was basically just him being able to talk to me and to basically understand me as a man outside of the ring and inside of the gym as well.

So everything just clicked all the way around between us. Like I’ve said, he’s known me and I’ve known him since I was 13 years old, so we felt like it will be a comfortable transition. Is there anything that you’ve noticed, for example, in Hunter’s work with Khan or Angulo to suggest he might similarly help you, knowing that the boxing public might hold you accountable for that improvement?

AB: You know, I’ve always had a lot of high expectations on me regardless — even without Virgil — going into the ring. I’ve always had the high expectations and I’ve always had that high accountability.

But with him and these other guys, say, Angulo, he showed a lot in his last fight. Amir Khan, he showed a lot. But at the same time, you’re not going to be able to change a fighter overnight. It’s takes a process.

It takes a few training sessions and it takes a few camps together and I don’t know any fighter who has been changed overnight by any trainer. So it’s just a process, that’s all. I believe that our chemistry and the process will prevail at the end of the day. Are there any specifics that Hunter critiqued about your last two fights that you’re confident will become manifest or result in a change in the fighter we will see against Soto Karass on July 27?

AB: You know, at the end of the day, I can fight. At the end of the day, I have everything that it takes when it comes to talent. But at the same time, that only gets you so far.

You have to be able to work more on technique and that becomes more about the fundamentals and stuff like that. I believe that’s going to be a great addition, when it comes to Virgil.

I believe that he’s very wise on the detail and the fundamentals. He’s not so much about change as much as adding things to your arsenal. I’m already a two-time world champion, and I didn’t get there for no reason.

So there is no reason, realistically, to more or less change a fighter so much, but it’s just adding more things to his arsenal. How long have you been training with Virgil, and have you seen any significant or dramatic results during that time, mentally and/or physically?

AB: It’s been about eight or nine weeks, and I think that there has been a combination of both. I think that because, just the fact that you can be with somebody that can basically just tell you things.

It’s all about communication. You can deal with somebody that communicates with you a certain type of way, and it just does not register.

But, then again, you can communicate with somebody, just some little small things, and it registers and you can make those different changes quite quickly.

Me, I’m a good athlete, but the only thing that it takes for me is certain things and certain little suggestions just to make a big difference.

Certain movements or certain calls, certain step-overs or angles of movements. Things like that can result in a big change in somebody’s arsenal. What was it that made you pull the trigger on separating with your long-time trainer, Morgan?

AB: One thing is that it just gets to a point sometime where, you know, me and Tony, we mostly had a good relationship. We started at a very young age to get to this point.

So that tells you what kind of trainer he is, and that tells you that he took a kid to the amateurs and to the Olympic games and to two world titles.

That’s tremendous. But at the same time, I just felt at the time, that I needed something different. Like I’ve said, I’m just like everybody else sometimes. I can sit back and know that I have tremendous talent.

But there are just certain things that I needed to work on, that I needed to do that I just don’t think that I was staying focused on doing them, and I just felt that it was time, just for a change. Especially after that last fight, man. How do you mean?

AB: I was sitting at home after that last fight. Just sitting in that damn house and looking at my face every morning and seeing effects on my face.

It was just knowing that I have too much talent to be looking the way that I was looking. After that fight, I just knew that I had to do something different. I knew that I had to do something different. Is there any sense of frustration that motivates you due to the facts that fighters such as Alexander, Broner, Guerrero, Malignaggi and Ortiz have come behind you and risen from lower weights to achieve success as welterweights while you have struggled?

AB: Of course. Of course. I think that’s the main thing. Just the fact that, being who I have, and being where I’ve been, and then, seeing certain fighters that I just know are not on my level.

Yet they’ve been able to elevate themselves because of my mistakes and my downfalls, but it’s just focus. It’s just made me realistically get back to the basics.

But at the end of the day, with this boxing game, man, I really sit back and I understand it. People can be this or be that or be on a certain type of level one night.

So for a guy like me, it only takes one great performance, and then, my name will be barked all through the division again like it was before. That’s all that it takes is a great performance, because you’re only as good as your last fight.

So, that’s one thing that I do understand. Of course, that’s what is definitely keeping me hungry, and definitely has brought me back to the basics with you get right down to it. Given the investment that you’ve made with Hunter, the trainer he is and the fighter you have been, can you give me a scouting report on what you realistically expect to see out of yourself against Soto Karass?

AB: Of course, I want to, first, come out with a victory. But I want to just be able to stay focused and work on a game plan. I have a lot of speed, I have a lot of power, I have a lot of ability.

I want to be able to show that I can use my legs and move my feet just to be able to give people a glimpse of a little bit of everything, and then, we’ll be satisfied. Just by using certain little things that I’ve been working on here.

Because I just know that withe every camp and with every fight, everything is going to continue to elevate. Just the fact that I’m sticking to the game plan and staying focused.

Doing that, I can be able to show people what they’ve been missing for some time now, and that’s the really sharp Andre Berto that can put together that speed and that power and be effective defensively and look like that complete fighter.

Photo by Soobum Im, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions

Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]