by Philip H. Anselmo
For 5 rounds Andre Berto (vs. “Miki” Rodriguez) reminded me so much of the 147 lb. version of Meldrick Taylor, I thought I was having a flash back.
Taylor, in his days at Jr. welterweight had fight-stopping power mixed with blazing speed. However when he made his jump up to full-fledged welter, he had plenty enough athleticism, speed, & boxing ability left to lift a world title from Aaron “Superman” Davis via 12 rd. decision, although many insiders felt in his biggest test by far, a 12th round TKO at the hands of Jr. welter champ Julio Caesar Chavez, just two fights previously appeared to ruin him. Meldrick had retained his super-fast hand speed & flashy style, but he couldn’t hurt his opponent with single shots anymore, nor could he stop an opponent in his tracks long enough to follow up on—case in point being his title losing KO at the hands of the prime Terry Norris, & culminating in his next fight against bigger, stronger Crisanto Espana who crushed the rest of the shell of what Meldrick was in 8 brutally one-sided rounds.
Which finally brings me back to the subject of the overrated puncher & WBC champ Andre Berto.
It slips my mind, but whatever conglomerate is handling his career could be praised for guiding their young fighter to a glossy, always impressive looking undefeated record (22-0-19 KO’s), a contract with HBO televising his predictable, one-sided exhibitions against no-hopers, Max Kellerman kissing Berto’s ass more than Max kisses himself in the mirror daily, & a world title strap.
But unless they continue to feed Andre a steady diet of soft, pathetic & undeserving WBC mandatory challengers, his chances of looking worthy, or much less winning a bout at the elite are next to nil.
Berto’s still a work in progress. Cast no blame upon him for his achievements in the ring, but if he & his team push for marquis fights at the top of the division, blame his team—because, if any young undefeated fighter by design continues hearing, & listening to how great he is out of the mouth’s of every single person surrounding him, he too will believe it. In Berto’s case, especially at this juncture of his career, why should he doubt what they’re telling him? But in truth, all of the talk of potential greatness & huge attention being piled upon Andre will leave him wrapped tightly in a shroud of false security. Andre is being thrown to the wolves!
HBO’s desperate search to fill the unimpressive PFP king pin Floyd Mayweather’s questionable, but recently retired shoes with the likes of Berto, who shouldn’t be at all considered one of the best young fighters in the game to begin with seems premature to say the least.
Why is HBO pretending like Berto is the next big thing, when their last “big thing”, in Floyd was a flop overall for paying fight fans till the tail end of his safety-first career?
Floyd was never a PPV attraction on his own, nor could he barely fill up a 1000 seat venue for his world title defenses unless he fought a fighter who brought the audience with them, like Oscar De La Hoya for example, whom Floyd needed, never the other way around. And Floyd knew it, of course.
The lunacy of Andre being a world champ especially falls on the crap ratings system of the WBC for making the #2 challenger Miguel “Mikki” Rodriguez (Berto was #1). After doing research on this particular pugilist, HBO is also to be blamed for allowing such a disgusting, embarrassing farce to be aired as a match for a “world title” belt.
How in the Hell does a guy like “Mikki” deserve to be rated high enough to fight for any organizations ultimate prize?
I’ll explain the obvious.
The organizations ratings committee manipulates the guy (Rodriguez) to the top of the heap, over more-deserving challengers, & with HBO’s ‘crossed-fingered’ blessing, so the guy they have a contract with (Berto) wins, and wins impressively. To solidify a sensational victory, Berto’s matched consistently soft. Some will argue that point, but Cosme Rivera, David Estrada, & European import Michael Trabant are tough, 3rd tier fighters, but with that short of a resume, no boxer should be allowed a world title shot.
In shambles a re-animated corpse affectionately nick-named “Micki”.
For anyone thinking I’m being too tough, remember, “Miki” did nothing to earn his high ranking, so it’s the WBC I’m venting gasoline at, never “Micki”.
As a matter of fact, in his last 12 fights leading up to his title shot Miki fought: 8-2 Roberto Bixano, winning the WBC Continental Americas welter girdle, up next an 0-6 Luis Orrantia, one fight later a 2-0 Miguel A. Diaz, then 0-1-1 Carlos Armenta, a 9-2 Guillermo Romero, 3 fights before his title challenge he fought 3-3 Francesco Villanueva in ’05, then the fight before he stepped in with new champ Berto, he fought 11-6-1 Jerome Ellis.
It’s no wonder his now (29-3-23 KO’s) record made him out to be a puncher on paper with opposition like that.
The upside for Miki is that he’s never been KO’d, he went 15—0, scoring14 KO’s, with 7 victories coming in the first round against hardly passable, if not pathetic opposition, before losing in 8 to Luis Vazquez.
He rebounded by stopping Leonard Townsend in 4 rounds. He beat a useful Luis Maysonette before losing a WBC eliminator to former champ Carlos Baldomir. And that’s as good as it gets for Rodriguez.
Berto was superior in every department when they fought, as he landed at will with a variety of crisp shots that continually bounced off the stationary head of Rodriguez, who despite being completely outclassed, kept pressing.
As many clean shots as Berto was getting through, the optimism of an early night loomed thick over the first 3 rounds. But as the fight continued, I found myself questioning Andre’s supposed ‘devastating’ KO power critically.
I know if former champion Kermit Cintron landed as flush as Berto did, Rodriguez would’ve been counted out face down, out cold as early as the 2nd.
Whoever did the scouting on Rodriguez did a perfect job of finding a guy with a high KO percentage who couldn’t swat a mosquito when fighting guys with a winning record. During the fight, Rodriguez skinny arms shot out a slow motion jab, a painfully amateurish & predictable right hand. His left hook looked decent in form when he’d let it go.
However, at times, the 5”11 Rodriguez would expose the lunging, wild swinging Berto with that very left hook, countering effectively. No doubt Andre had no respect for Mikki, but at times Rodriguez moved his hands decently, landing his jab & right hand from the outside & also when he & Berto exchanged on the inside. But for the most part, Rodriguez looked like a shitty sparring partner for a squared-up, technically flawed, over confident Berto, as expected.
Referee Lawrence Cole made the fight even more anti-climactic by stopping it too early, adding to the shame of the whole mess of a non-event.
But Berto won.
But if Rodriguez could catch Berto with the shots he did, Andre’s future will be either protected like a fragile balsa wood manufactured robot, or the elite’ll crumble him.
Miguel Cotto would ruin Andre’s career. Antonio Margarito would swallow him alive. An older Shane Mosley would kick his ass.
Zab Judah & Joshua Clottey have to be salivating to get him in the ring.
Berto is but a sheep wandering amongst wolves at 147.