By Kirk Jackson
There are many who trashed this bout in belief it will not be a good fight. Some don’t want to fork over the $50 – 75 to watch this on Pay-Per-View.
It’s understandable to feel that way. But for any “True fan” of boxing, they should tune in September 12th to watch one of the all-time great fighters.
Some people define this great fighter Floyd Mayweather 48-0 (26 KO’s) as boring, because he “Runs” or “Clinches” too often.
He has been deemed a “Coward” and often serves as a punching bag of criticism because he doesn’t engage in frequent scuffles inside the ring; instead opting for logical, tactical decisions and carefully analyzing while dissecting his opponents.
Many fans may be turned off by Mayweather because of his personality. Can’t argue there.
Even those turned off by his fighting style, it’s understandable because and lets face it, most casual viewers may not understand the chemistry behind the “Sweet Science” that is boxing.
The name of the game, the blueprint to success as a fighter is to hit and do not get hit. However, many people conveniently forget Mayweather has his share of exciting, action-packed fights as well.
September 12th, we’ll be able to categorize this fight as an exciting one.
In victory or defeat, Andre Berto 30-3 (23 KO’s) is known for exciting match-ups.
Recent history shows Mayweather has exciting fights as well. His fight against Miguel Cotto back in 2012 and most recently his first installment against Marcos Maidana in 2014 were thrilling bouts.
But lets get down to the particulars for Mayweather’s upcoming fight. In what is supposed to be his last fight against Berto.
Compelling stuff from Berto’s trainer Virgil Hunter.
Although it appears Hunter is adding hype just to sell the fight, Berto will be a stiff challenger and may offer a better account of himself in comparison to the recently vanquished foe, Manny Pacquiao.
No I am not suggesting Berto is better than Pacquiao, but there are elements at play that will make this a more entertaining match-up.
The short answer essentially is Berto will go out on his shield when the chips are stacked against him.
After Pacquiao was knocked out cold from rival Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, it’s fair to speculate going forward, Pacquiao did not want to put himself at unnecessary risk to land punches against sharp counter punchers.
With that possibility of a thought process in mind, Pacquiao’s inability to cut off the ring and with both fighters possessing the non-willingness to take unnecessary risks, led to what was a “Boring fight” in the eyes of many spectators.
From a marketing standpoint, if Pacquiao were to lose via knockout, the rematch with Mayweather would be a hard sale.
It’s somewhat difficult to sell a rematch between Mayweather and Pacquiao now, but Pacquiao can fall back on the “Injury-gate” excuse and who knows maybe we’ll see Mayweather vs. Pacquiao 2 at some point.
Berto however doesn’t have the problem of reluctance when pulling the trigger.
He also believes his athletic ability; his ability to not be “Straight up and down” will lead to success. But while watching previous Berto fights, it shows he has a tendency to square up and stand flat-footed when he is in his fighting stance.
Which is an obviously a disadvantage or an error Mayweather will aim to capitalize on.
But a few positives in Berto’s favor; he arguably has the superior hand speed, if just by a fraction and may be physically stronger than Mayweather, as he is the naturally bigger fighter. Berto looks like a middleweight squeezed into a welterweight physique.
Even though he may possess these physical advantages, he may not be able to fully utilize them against Mayweather.
Berto likes to engage in action-packed flurries and will go for broke when threatened or in danger, but he’s not necessarily a pressure fighter. It’s the same problem Manny Pacquiao had against Mayweather.
There was the misconception that Pacquiao was this furious, Mike Tyson-esque pressure fighter, when in reality, he is more of a dash-in and dash-out, mid-range fighter; utilizing his foot speed to move in and straight back out of danger after his attack.
Marcos Maidana or Jose Luis Castillo for example, had success against Mayweather because they are natural pressure/inside fighters.
They know how to cut the ring off with their foot work, they know how to use their body, size and strength to gain leverage and to attack and hold an advantage over their opponents.
For extended periods of time both Castillo and Maidana were able to pin Mayweather against the ropes, nullifying some of his defensive effectiveness and limiting his offensive output.
As talented as Berto is, he does not possess that pressure/inside fighter skill. Unfortunately for him, although he shares the same trainer as Andre Ward, who can fight on the inside and the outside as a “Jack of All Trades” type of fighter, Berto has yet to develop that type of skill that would enable some success against Mayweather.
But there are some things Berto can use to his advantage.
In regards to his hand speed, he can use that to throw off Mayweather’s timing, especially if he utilizes his jab. Perhaps employing the strategy of double jabbing; even triple jabbing Mayweather at times to decrease the chances of catching one of Mayweather’s patented right hand pull-counters.
Oscar De La Hoya had some success against Mayweather with his patented jab. As did Cotto.
As trainer Virgil Hunter alluded to in interviews and press conferences leading up to this fight, Berto will have to fight over his head; ala Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali in their third fight.
To fight over his head, Berto will have to initiate the action, throw and land fast, powerful combinations. Easy said than done right?
Berto will have to jab and feint his way in, in an effort to land some big shots against the defensive master. Investing punches towards Mayweather’s body will pay dividends for Berto if he is able to do so. The application of consistent pressure, may lead to success for Berto, especially with his hand speed and power.
The issue with that strategy is the stamina required and Berto has the history of gassing late in fights.
But defense will be the main issue for Berto. He is highly hittable, he falls for feints and many times when making a transition from offense to defense, he stands squared up, presenting more of a target for the opposition.
Berto is not necessarily flat footed, but he does not possess the grace of a standard outside fighter. He does not change levels all too often either. It’s his liability on defense that will ultimately lead to his downfall.
There was even a time where Berto experimented with the shoulder roll defense against Robert Guerrero. The same shoulder roll defense the Mayweather family has utilized as a staple of their fighting style. But Berto’s experiment ended in failure.
Berto’s current defense now includes imploring the high guard, which is a style a skilled sharp shooter can take advantage of. The way around the high guard defense is hooks to the body or looping punches around the guard, sneaking sharp shots in.
Defensively, Berto allowed Josesito Lopez virtually land anything he wanted in their last fight.
Second-tier contender Jan Zaveck landed jabs and combinations at will against Berto in their battle from a few years back. Mayweather should have a field-day with his speed and pin-point accuracy.
Berto’s best defense is his offense, so in tune with him being the aggressor, striking first will be his best option.
As for how the fight will turn out:
Mayweather will play it cool early; jabbing to find range and keep Berto at bay, counter-punching and occasionally pot shotting his way to stack points and build an early lead on the cards.
We will more than likely see multiple jabs to the body, as that is one of Mayweather’s key punches and Berto’s last opponent Josesito Lopez, found much success employing that tactic. The most important and effective punch for Mayweather will be his left jab; it will allow him to dictate the territory of the match.
After the fourth round if the fight plays at Mayweather’s pace, he will pick up the action and will start throwing more combinations off of his jab and we will see a more sustained attack to the body from Mayweather as he begins to walk Berto down.
We’ll see a more aggressive Mayweather from the middle to late rounds, with him tapering off and playing it safe at the fight’s conclusion. The score cards should favor Mayweather via decision although nothing is guaranteed.
We will see fireworks, but more than likely it won’t be from the gate; it’s not either guy’s preferred style of fighting. We will progressively see action as the fight wears on.
Heavyweight Legend Larry Holmes attempted to break Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record but ultimately came up short in his bid to do so. Strange things happen in boxing; nothing is guaranteed and expect the unexpected.
Although Mayweather has proven to be effective at fighting using various styles, he will not turn into an all-out aggressor because this is his supposed last fight. He will not jeopardize potential victory, to please fans or critics who may or may not appreciate his style and career when it’s all said and done anyways.
For those who enjoy Mayweather’s style, here is an excellent breakdown.