By: Phil Santos
In the talent laden Welterweight division names like Mosley, Judah, Cotto and Mayweather guard the gates through which superstardom is obtained. There are no easy paths for a fighter looking to make his mark at 147. Even at the bottom end of the top ten, as rated by The Ring Magazine, there are difficult fights with proven veterans and former champions.
While Mayweather is still recognized as the best fighter in any weight and Miguel Cotto is thought to be the heir apparent to his throne, at least as the welterweight boss, there is another fighter who has peaked fight fans interest. That fighter is Andre Berto.
On June 21st, at the Fedex Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, Berto takes on his toughest challenge to date in Miguel Angel Rodriguez. While a young, undefeated fighters record can be misleading in the case of Andre Berto his 21-0 (18) is looking more legitimate with each passing fight. The manner in which he has raised his game to new levels each time the competition becomes fiercer lends credibility to his growing status as a serious contender.
In his last two fights Berto faced veteran opponents with granite chins and methodically wore them out before finally stopping them. First up was David Estrada whom Berto furiously pounded en route to an 11th round stoppage. Then he proceeded to dismantle Michel Trabant forcing him to quit on his stool. The victory over Estrada marked only the forth loss of his career, (Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron and Ishe Smith being the others), and the second time that he had been stopped; Kermit Cintron is the only other fighter to have stopped Estrada. Equally impressive was becoming the first fighter to make Trabant quit, handing the German fighter his third loss and first by KO.
Now with his June 21st date with Rodriguez looming Berto looks to put together another notable performance perhaps landing him a shot at one of the lower end top ten welters. Berto certainly appears ready and his skills and growing resume make him a worthy opponent for a Luis Callazo or Jackson Bonsu. For that matter the other three fighters who rank 6-10, Zab Judah, Joshua Clottey and Kermit Cintron, would be a step up but by no means would they outclass Berto given his recent showings.
The near future looks promising for the 24 year old up and comer. His combination of speed, power and patience should carry him through the ranks and possibly into the title picture. He has a good promoter in Lou Dibella and possesses a great attitude as well as a humbleness you rarely find in this sport. He is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the talented bunch of Welterweight stars and assuming a win on the 21st heâ€™ll have inched closer to challenging a big name.
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