By Kirk Jackson
This weekend, Andre Berto is slated to go against Jesus Soto Karass in San Antonio, TX at the AT&T Center.
Karass, is 3-4 his last seven fights and is coming off a majority decision victory over Selcuk Aydin.
Berto is trying to bounce back after suffering a brutal 12 round decision defeat this past December against Robert Guerrero.
Honestly speaking, this could be the last run at relevancy for the former welterweight champion, Andre Berto.
Which is interesting, because he only has two official losses on his record and 22 of his 28 victories are by knockout, which is a 73% knockout ratio.
But he has had some tough losses and a couple of close calls to go along with that and has endured much physical punishment in recent bouts.
As time has progressed over the years, Berto has been easier to hit and he fights more flat-footed. He squares straight up instead of giving angles and as he will be turning 30 this upcoming September, his reflexes will begin to erode at some point and I would imagine he will have even more difficulty winning fights.
Also as the years have gone by, he has faced a higher level of the competition and the defensive flaws of Berto have become more noticeable. His discipline on the offensive end seems to be lacking as well.
Berto likes to go for the home run, the knock-out punch. Which is great, especially for the fans. But that kind of strategy does not always win fights and it makes the fighter seemingly predictable.
What’s a common theme in all of Berto’s defeats and with his close call against Luis Collazo back in 2009 is Berto does not do well against fighters who bring constant pressure: something Soto Karass should keep in mind.
Early on in his career, the pressure/swarmer style of fighters would have been easy pickings for the sharp counter-punching Berto.
But nowadays, the pressure applied overwhelms Berto which may be attributed to his stamina problems and some of the offensive and defensive flaws mentioned earlier.
Perhaps my criticism is harsh because I had high hopes for Berto. Granted, his handlers and HBO may have over-hyped him a bit as he was coming up, but Berto did and still does possess freakish athleticism and hand speed most fighters can only dream of.
Outside of Floyd Mayweather, Zab Judah and Manny Pacquiao, Berto probably has the best handspeed of any fighter near the realm of the welterweight division.
Another thing about Berto is he is a fan’s dream fighter. He always gives an exciting bout and goes out swinging win or lose, so he can’t be faulted for that.
So what if Berto defeats Karass? Is his time up and is he just a step below the elite level? Or can he still do some damage in the welterweight division?
The good thing is if Berto emerges victorious, there is a lot of options for him.
Maybe he can get a fight against the winner of Lucas Matthysse and Danny Garcia, who undoubtedly will be chasing a fight with Mayweather regardless of the outcome of his fight against Saul Alvarez.
Or maybe a fight against Amir Khan or Devon Alexander, who in turn are also be chasing the huge money fight against Mayweather.
I’m sure fans wouldn’t mind seeing a fight with Berto against Marcos Maidana. The fight would be entertaining for sure, but Maidana may be in line to fight Adrien Broner.
A fight with Paulie Malignaggi would be a good fit for Berto, because Malignaggi is a high quality name and fighter and lacks the punching power to seriously hurt Berto.
A rematch with Victor Ortiz or Robert Guerrero could be in the works, although I would favor both fighters against Berto and would expect a repeat performance from each fighter.
The possibilities seem endless. But if Berto loses this weekend, this likely signals the end of his run at the top. He may end up as a gatekeeper for the division, or as a guy who has a big name that upcoming fighters use to bulk up their resumes.