Q&A: Andre Berto
The last time we saw Andre Berto he suffered a 12th-round stoppage to Jesus Soto Karass. Early in the loss, which took place in San Antonio last July, Berto suffered a torn tendon in his right shoulder.
After months of rehabilitation Berto is now ready to resurface against Steven Upsher Chambers, who faces on Saturday in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“The rehab was probably the toughest situation I’ve had to go through in life,” Berto told RingTV.com from his training base in Oakland, California. “The first two, three months I was trying to get the range back in it because it was frozen. They had to pull on it, to get the range and motion back. They had to basically show me how to use my right arm all over again.”
Berto who turns 31 the day after his return looks to breathe new life into his career having lost his WBC welterweight title to Victor Ortiz in 2011, and losing three of his last four bouts.
He admits that earlier in his career, he would train intensely three times a day, however as he’s gotten older, the wear and tear of boxing has taken its toll on his body and he’s had to modify things.
“I trained my ass off, ran, boxed, sprints, all day, now it’s toning it down, taking days off, letting your body heal, taking the right vitamins, putting things back in your body to take care of your body, taking time to stretch, a lot of massages, small essential things,” he said.
Berto, who represented Haiti (where his parents were born) at the 2004 Olympics after being disqualified in the American box offs, would go on to win two 147-pound belts in the pro ranks, making five defences of the WBC strap before losing his title, and later briefly holding the IBF crown.
Along with Berto-Chambers, the Golden Boy Promotions/Showtime event from the U.S. Bank Arena is co-headlined by Adrien Broner-Emmanuel Taylor and Lucas Matthysse-Roberto Ortiz. The Showtime broadcast begins at 9:25p.m. ET/PT.
Anson Wainwright – You have been on the shelf for 13 months with a torn tendon in your right shoulder that you suffered early in the Soto Karass fight. Can you tell us about the injury?
Andre Berto – Actually, I felt the injury a week before the fight. I fought with injuries before. Going into the fight I was a little worried about it, once I put on smaller gloves I thought it might get worse, that’s pretty much what happened. Second round I hit him with a shot and it just tore the tendon right off the bone. After that, it was pretty much paralysed. I still kept trying to throw it throughout the fight but it was excruciating pain and it got to a point where I couldn’t keep my right hand up anymore and that’s when I got caught with the shots.
AW – Was there ever a moment where you didn’t think you’d fight again?
AB – Yeah, I’m not going to lie. I’m a very active person. I’m a very ambitious person. Sitting at home, I couldn’t jump on a plane, I couldn’t fly anywhere because they didn’t want me to get any blood clot in my shoulder, so I had to stay put for five or six months. I had to go through the process of re-using my right arm, getting range and motion back in, trying to get the strength back in. Going through that whole process for seven, eight months, I really thought there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to use my shoulder again like it was after the surgery. Just to be normal was extremely tough and it was a really dark time because I didn’t think I was gonna be able to comeback from it.
AW – What are your thoughts on the Upsher fight?
AB – They had a couple guys pull out last minute. I haven’t seen any tape on him, but I know that he’s tall and has quick hands. He’s a strong fighter and I’m just looking forward to the challenge and getting back in there on Sept. 6.
AW – What have you done with yourself during your time away from boxing?
AB – My life basically consisted of rehab for most of the time I was out. Lots of rehab, day in and day out, and as soon as I got clearance to train, hit the bag, I’ve been back in the gym working. I’m so excited to just be able to work. It’s probably been one of my longest training camps because I’ve been so excited to just be able to train, spar just to feel normal again.
AW – You have your own foundation to help Haiti following the atrocity that happened over there. What is the current situation there?
AB – After my time with being down over those months, I’ve done a lot of charity out there and I’ve probably been there three times doing things. I spoke at the United Nations as well. We took a lot of people down that way, some professional athletes, some friends, models, actors just to see the situation and a lot of the different causes we’re working on. We have some great programs we’re working on. We have a soccer program so the kids can stay active, not stay on the streets. It’s been awhile since things happened down there and there’s been a lot of crime as well. So you try to make sure the kids stay active and not on the streets. The country is definitely getting a lot better.
AW – This will be your second fight working with Virgil Hunter. Tell us about this and training with the likes of Andre Ward, Alfredo Angulo and Amir Khan?
AB – Virgil Hunter is one of the smartest, one of the most tactical guys I’ve ever worked with. It’s just our team, we’re very close, almost like a brotherhood. We always help each other to get better. I’ve known Andre Ward since we were 12, 13 years old. Angulo we’ve been working (with him) as well. Virgil is like a professor in there, it’s like you’re in school every time you’re at the gym.
AW – How about Amir Khan? The two of you are in the same weight class so there’s the possibility that the two of you could meet at some point?
AB – I’ve known Amir awhile, our chemistry is good. We’ve known each other for some time, train along side each other. We don’t have a problem with each other at all. If that time comes and it looks like there’s something potentially there I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but right now we’re part of the same team and we’re focused on the same goal (of) trying to be the best.
AW – The welterweight division looks to be stacked with talent. What are your thoughts on the fighters rated in your division by THE RING?
C – Floyd Mayweather – He’s sharp, he’s one of the best to ever do it, very sharp, very technical and he’s always in shape waiting to go.
1 – Manny Pacquiao – Is extremely exciting, he’s a great person in and out of the ring and I think that’s what makes him a superstar because he’s an all-round tremendous guy.
2 – Tim Bradley – Is a good friend of mine, I’ve known him since the amateurs and he’s just one of those blue-collar fighters, he earned everything he got, he had to come a little harder than us coming out of the amateurs. He had to take a lot of tough fights early but he proved it and he earned everything he has today.
3 – Juan Manuel Marquez – He’s a legend to the Mexican people, he’s had tremendous fights, he’s had a long career, he’s had exciting fights, and he’s always represented Mexico to the fullest and the way Mexican fighters fight.
4 – Kell Brook – I think he’s pretty good. The last fight (vs. Shawn Porter) I was there. That was actually the first time I’d seen him fight. What I got from that was he stayed very focused, he fought Shawn Porter, Shawn Porter fought very aggressive and rough but I was very surprised how Kell kept his poise, stayed calm and landed the cleaner shots and didn’t get flustered by the rough tactics Shawn Porter brought to the table.
5 – Marcos Maidana – Just an animal, he’s not that class of a boxer with classic skills but he’s a rough customer and he’s trouble for anybody. He punches hard and is very awkward and is very, very aggressive.
6 – Shawn Porter – He’s a very good fighter, very intense, you saw from his last fight. He’s like a little Mike Tyson to a point, very tough, very strong. He’s a real fighter so he’ll be back.
7 – Keith Thurman – I actually grew up with Keith. I’ve known Keith for years, I sparred with Keith. He’s trouble for anybody. He has a lot of skill, speed and tremendous knockout power. He’s an all-round really good fighter. I think he’s gonna be there for a nice bit of time. I think he’s gonna be someone to reckon with. He has a good chance to take over (the division). He’s extremely confident, he punches very hard and he pretty good ring IQ. He has the eye of the tiger, he’s not afraid of anybody.
8 – Robert Guerrero – Southpaw, pretty good. He had a rough road coming up with a couple of tough situations, (but) he made it through. He’s very focused and he’s ready to get back in there to stake his claim.
9- Amir Khan – Amir’s trouble for anybody, as well. He’s sharp, fast, very good hand speed, he has a lot of energy. He has pretty good legs to move around. Sometimes he tends to put his chin out there a little bit and get caught with punches but I believe that’s what makes him exciting.
10 – Devon Alexander – Good little fighter. I don’t think he has that star presence yet but I think in due time if he meets the right people he should be able to. He’s a difficult fighter, he’s a southpaw, he has speed and he’s always in pretty good shape.
AW – While I’m sure you’re focused on your return to action, what is your plan going forward?
AB – We’ve been out sometime, so right now we’re focused on just handling this fight. But if everything goes great we’ll probably be back sometime in December but we’ll see.
AW – As you touched on you were at the Porter-Brook fight in Carson, along with Thurman, Alexander, Maidana and Danny Garcia. When all you guys are together is there any animosity because you’re all alpha-males (and) you all want to be the number one?
AB – Not most of us. I was sitting next to Keith (Thurman), Devon (Alexander), Soto Karass, Danny Garcia; all of us pretty much knew each other a little prior. Like I said, I’ve known Devon ever since the amateurs; I grew up with Keith, since he was 10, 11 years old and some other guys. We just know that when it comes to it we have to handle our business to provide for our families.
AW – What did you think of Porter-Brook?
AB – I thought the fight was close. I thought Shawn was aggressive and made the fight kinda rough so it was kinda hard for me to see the work both were putting in. I went home later that night and watched it again on TV and like I said, Brook stayed composed, he stayed focused even though Porter was coming in rough, rugged and pushing him around. I was surprised how Brook kept his calm throughout each and every round and kept landing that right hand. Shawn Porter expended a lot of energy, it looks like he wasn’t doing a lot during the fight but I think Kell was a lot more effective with his punches he threw a lot more effective clean shots.
AW – How do you see the Mayweather-Maidana rematch going?
AB – I think it’s gonna be similar to the last go around. I think Maidana is gonna come out and be aggressive and be punching hard. I think Floyd now is gonna try his best to stay sharp and focused and not get hit with a lot of these punches. It might be a little tough, like I say, he throws a lot of awkward shots that Floyd’s not used to seeing so I wouldn’t be surprised if Maidana still comes in there and lands some good shots. I think it’s gonna be an exciting fight. Maidana’s gonna bring it. I think Floyd’s gonna get it. I think he’s gonna try to make it a little more conventional but then again I don’t know because at the same time Maidana could land a good shot but I think everybody goes towards Floyd.
AW – Do you have a message for the welterweight division upon your return?
AB – Everybody, I appreciate all the support. I’m looking forward to getting back in there. I’m so happy to be able to come back from the surgery. I’m excited on being able to get back in there and stake my claim in the welterweight division. It’s gonna be another great run for me.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright