Andre Berto: ‘I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my career’
Andre Berto feels “that there’s nothing that can stop me right now” heading into his March 13 fight against Josesito Lopez.
“This is an Andre Berto that I believe that they’ve been waiting on. Now we have this tremendous chance for me to prove a point to everybody else and to prove a point to myself as well,” said Berto, who has endured separate surgeries on each arm within the past three years. He has also gone 2-3 with one stoppage win over that stretch and has been stopped once over the course of his past five fights.
“I’ve had my ups and downs and I’ve had my injuries and I’ve been down. I’ve been knocked out. But now, I’m in tremendously healthy and I’m tremendously focused and this is a great opportunity that comes at the right time. I’m ready to begin a new Berto era. There’s nothing that I can’t do. Right now, there’s nothing that I fear and there’s nothing that I feel that I can’t get through.”
Berto (29-3, 22 knockouts) will face Lopez (33-6, 19 KOs) in the main event of a new boxing series on the Spike TV cable network unveiled by adviser Al Haymon on Jan. 22 during a press conference in Santa Monica, California. The co-feature will match former IBF welterweight beltholder Shawn Porter against Roberto Garcia.
“I think that this is awesome, getting us as athletes and fighters on a bigger platform. We have more of an opportunity to become household names. We’ve got an opportunity to be in 90 million or 100 million homes,” said Berto, 31, a two-time welterweight titlist.
“This is an opportunity to potentially emulate some of the legends from back in the day, like the Sugar Ray Leonards and the Marvin Haglers and the Tommy Hearns and the Roberto Durans. When they got similar opportunities, you know, these guys became huge in their time. So we’ve definitely got the opportunity to do the same thing now, so that’s why I believe that it’s a great situation.”
Berto and Lopez share a common opponent in Victor Ortiz, whom handed Berto his first loss. Lopez, 30, boasts a ninth round stoppage over Ortiz from June 2012 at a time when Ortiz was two fights removed from a unanimous decision win over Berto in April 2011.
“At this point, I’m in hunting mode right now and I need a game fighter in front of me like Lopez,” said Berto. “I’m coming to do damage and I definitely want to be involved in an entertaining fight. Do I have a prediction? It’s going to be a great fight and I doubt that it goes the distance.”
Berto returned to full-time training from shoulder surgery in August. Berto had surgery in August 2013 to repair a ruptured subscapularis (under the shoulder blade) tendon he suffered during a 12th-round stoppage loss to Jesus Soto Karass in July 2013. The most recent surgery had followed a previous procedure to repair a ruptured left biceps in February 2012.
“I’ve definitely far away from that loss. There were a lot of situations that went on in camp. I was injured in the third round and I was basically fighting with one arm. That was a vicious time to continue not only to defend myself but to will it out even though I only had one arm during the fight,” said Berto.
“What doesn’t kill you makes me stronger, man, and that’s one thing that throughout my career that everybody understands and everybody knows about me. When I step into the ring, I’m going to give it my all and I’m going to leave it all in the ring. So it doesn’t matter if my shoulder is torn up or my leg is broken; I’m still going to give it 100 percent.”
The loss to Soto Karass was Berto’s first by knockout in a bout that also represented his first under current trainer Virgil Hunter since parting ways with Tony Morgan. Berto’s other setbacks were to Ortiz and by unanimous decision to Robert Guerrero in November of 2012. Berto ended a 14-month ring absence with his last fight in September, earning a near-shutout unanimous decision over Steve Upsher Chambers.
“With everything, it’s 90 percent mental. With me going through the surgery after the Soto Karass fight and going through extensive rehabilitation for six, seven, eight months and not feeling like I would be able to use my right hand like I did before ever, that was rough. It was that intensive of a rehab and I really had to go through a process of having to re-learn how to use my right arm all over again,” said Berto.
“So the Chambers fight definitely helped to take my confidence up to a whole other level physically. Knowing that I improved my jab because I didn’t have my right hand for so long and being able to throw that right hand, all of that was a confidence-booster for me. I didn’t hesitate with it at all. I am able to let it go and I got some rounds in. It’s on a whole different level for me now. Confidence-wise, I feel good. I feel healthy; I feel strong, I feel fast. I feel that there’s nothing that can stop me right now.”
Known as “The Riverside Rocky,” Lopez, 30, has won three straight fights, one by knockout, since losing by consecutive stoppages in the fifth and sixth rounds to Canelo Alvarez as a junior middleweight in September 2012 and Marcos Maidana as a welterweight in June 2013, respectively.
Lopez sandwiched a fifth round technical knockout of Aaron Martinez in April 2014 between decisions over Mike Arnaoutis and Rafael Cobos in December 2013 and last September. Prior to facing Alvarez in his 154-pound debut, Lopez stopped Ortiz, a former 147-pound titleholder, whose jaw was broken during their bout.
“Lopez is a game fighter and that’s the beautiful thing about it but right now, I’m on a completely different focus. I’ve encountered everything that I can in that ring. I’ve done everything. So everything right now at this point is a bonus for me. I haven’t felt this healthy in two years and after the Chambers fight, I just stayed in the gym I’ve just been able to stay healthy and to stay sharp and I am just looking forward to this next chapter of my career.”