The rebirth of Andre Berto?
There have been a number of stories that have been critical of Andre Berto’s career trajectory. After bursting onto the scene with a ton of promise over a decade ago, Berto’s career hasn’t exactly played out like many anticipated. His record of 29-3 (22 knockouts) isn’t too shabby by any stretch of the imagination, but we’d be remiss to suggest that he’s come remotely close to reaching the lofty expectations that were placed on him years ago.
After a half decade of injuries, difficult losses and distractions, Berto will look to get his boxing career back on track when he faces Josesito Lopez (33-6, 19 KOs) at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, tonight.
It’s an opportunity for Berto to hit the reset button. However, at the age of 31, he’s not exactly a spring chicken. Nevertheless, he plans to put all of the past turmoil behind him and prove why he was once boxing’s most promising prospect
“With all the sh*t I’ve been through, I have no choice but to be a different fighter, person and man,” Berto said on a conference call discussing his outlook on the future. He explained that there was concerns that he would never fight again after tearing the rotator cuff on his right shoulder. With all of that behind him, he says he will finally prove his worth against the always-game Lopez. “When you get your gift taken away from you and you have the opportunity to get it back, you pull out all the stops to keep it. I don’t have no choice but to be a different animal.”
Berto has been through his fair share of peaks and valleys throughout his career. But after starting with a pristine 27-0 record and in possession of the WBC welterweight crown, the wheels slowly began to come off. Although he managed to fight through a devastating time in 2010, when a massive earthquake brought tragedy to his family in Haiti, he hasn’t really been the same fighter. Losing to Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero in fights that were played out as auditions to face Floyd Mayweather were both damaging. But then a loss to fringe contender Jesus Soto-Karass had many skeptics driving the final nail in his career coffin.
Berto addressed whether the critics have given him a fair shake when asked by RingTV.
“A lot of people only get a handful of stories about what’s going on with me and my life in general,” Berto said while noting the earthquake and the numerous injuries that he has dealt with. He went as far to say that he couldn’t remember the last time he has been at 100 percent mentally and physically before a fight. “I’ve been in situations that a lot of people – not just fighters – wouldn’t have been able to handle. I haven’t been explaining the behind-the-scenes things that have affected the boxing aspect of things for me. But it is what it is. These people don’t want to hear anything but victory and that’s it.”
Fair or unfair, boxing is a cruel sport where a loss can ruin a fighter. And for someone with as much promise as Berto, the criticism is only magnified whenever he loses. But rather than let it get him down, he’s prepared to prove the skeptics wrong when he faces Lopez.
Berto tells ring that this is one of the most distraction-free camps he has ever had and says that working with esteemed trainer Virgil Hunter will result in fight fans seeing a more technically sound version of Andre Berto.
“With (Berto’s old trainer) Tony Morgan, the technical aspect was something I lacked,” Berto said. “I had tremendous talent, athleticism, and we had won our whole career depending on just that. Virgil Hunter is ridiculously meticulous and very technical and I can’t wait to put it all together.”
One thing is clear: March 13 will be pivotal in the career of Andre Berto. Either we’ll get Berto version 2.0 or he will prove his skeptics right.
Andreas Hale is a self-proclaimed Swiss army knife of journalism who covers everything from music and film to sports and politics. He has covered combat sports for diehard outlets including Yahoo! Sports, Sherdog, FightNews and others while also writing for mainstream outlets such as Jay Z’s Life+Times, MTV, BET, Vibe, The Source and more. You can follow him at twitter.com/AndreasHale and he would welcome any and all conversations about the sweet science.