By Kirk Jackson
It’s well documented by now, the wheels are in motion and we are days away from witnessing potentially the last professional bout from Floyd Mayweather Jr. 48-0 (26 KO’s).
Fulfilling the last fight on his lucrative deal with Showtime, a fight in which a victory will propel Mayweather to 49-0, into a virtual tie with the legendary Rocky Marciano. Under the constant threat of criticisms and scrutiny, everything is at stake for Mayweather.
Many people scoffed at the idea of Mayweather facing Andre Berto when it was first announced. It’s reasonable, as Berto’s stock isn’t particularly too high right now. He’s batting 500. in his last six fights.
Some fighters and fans feel snubbed. Amir Khan certainly thought he deserved a crack a Mayweather, as did Keith Thurman and any fighter in the welterweight division.
Even middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin wants a crack at Mayweather; essentially the payday and name association Mayweather brings is too enticing to pass up. Who can blame them right?
The fans want to see Mayweather tested. Manny Pacquiao, Saul Alvarez, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and many other foes of years past didn’t pan out, so it’s the next guy up.
One of the concepts lost in this discussion, is the lack of an obligation for Mayweather to fight anyone.
He virtually beat everyone in his generation (Diego Corrales, Zab Judah, Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton); he defeated foes of generations past (Oscar De La Hoya, Mosley, Genaro Hernandez) and dominated the main torch bearer of the future (Alvarez).
Who else is there to fight for Mayweather? He said it himself, he doesn’t fight for legacy. Paraphrasing in his own words, legacy doesn’t pay the bills, legacy will not financially take care of his family.
It doesn’t matter who he fights, there will be some criticism from somewhere.
If we look at the grand scheme of things, aside from Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, many of the prominent welterweights are not exactly proven commodities and are not making any leeway to earn the shot against Mayweather.
They are not fighting each other; instead they’re opting for easier tune-ups. Amir Khan vs. Chris Algieri, Keith Thurman vs. Luis Collazo, Kell Brook vs. Frankie Gavin, just to name a few examples.
The only legitimate options for Mayweather at welterweight would be IBF champion Kell Brook, or recently crowned WBO champion Timothy Bradley.
The Bradley fight will not take place for obvious reasons (Top Rank fighter) and Kell Brook only has one notable name on his resume with Shawn Porter.
Speaking from a fan perspective, it would be great to see Mayweather vs. Bradley or Mayweather vs. Erislandy Lara 21-2-2 (12 KO’s).
Arguably the biggest test for Mayweather would be WBA junior middleweight champion Lara.
Lara poses as his biggest threat because he is a slick southpaw, Cuban-bred style of fighter. He has the long reach, the size and skills to test Mayweather.
But that’s beside the point because Mayweather is not fighting Lara, Bradley or any of the aforementioned welterweights, he is fighting Berto.
Speaking of which, “All Access: Mayweather vs. Berto,” chronicles the camp of each fighter and essentially serves the duty of building up to the Mayweather-Berto event.
But to most people, there isn’t enough hype or creative deception to make anyone believe Berto has a snow ball’s chance in hell of defeating Mayweather.
Even the almighty Pacquiao couldn’t come close to beating Mayweather, and he was heralded as the best thing since sliced bread. What makes you think Berto has a chance?
But looking at Berto’s career, he’s not a bad fighter by any stretch of the imagination.
His resume doesn’t scream “All-Time Great” but he’s better than the average contender; for all intensive purposes he is a former world champion.
Berto was actually in line on a few occasions to face Mayweather in the past. His first world title was the WBC welterweight title Mayweather vacated when he first retired in 2008.
Berto would have faced Mayweather back in 2011, but Victor Ortiz spoiled those plans in what was Ring Magazine’s “Fight of the Year” for 2011.
Berto potentially had the opportunity of facing Mayweather in 2013, but Robert Guerrero played the role of spoiler, as he beat Berto to a pulp in an exciting fight towards the end of 2012.
So now is his big opportunity. Let’s not overlook the fact he has defeated more world champions than Shawn Porter, Marcos Maidana, Adrien Broner, Kell Brook, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Gennady Golovkin.
Berto is 30-3 (23 KO’s), he is extremely fast, athletic and strong. The fight game is also based on styles and this may not necessarily be a walk in the park for Mayweather.
Berto is under the tutelage of one of the sport’s best trainers, Virgil Hunter. For those out of the loop, Hunter helped resurrect the career of a then faltering Amir Khan and is responsible for arguably the best fighter in the sport not named Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward 28-0 (15 KO’s).
Berto is younger, if he shows flashes of a great jab, utilizes his hand speed to get Mayweather off rhythm, stays consistent and manages to bully Mayweather around, he can make things interesting.
Another thing to keep in mind, Berto doesn’t have anything to lose. As a matter of fact he’s expected to lose. He will be on the grandest stage and Berto is the kind of fighter who will swing for the fences regardless.
When has he ever had a dull fight? Even in defeat, he always displays the heart of a warrior; the gusto critics are quick to credit other fighters who may have a lighter complexion.
In boxing, nothing is guaranteed; one punch can truly change anything and expect the unexpected. I wouldn’t bet the farm on Berto emerging victorious, but we’ve seen stranger things happen right?
It would be foolish to favor Berto in this fight, but it would also be foolish to count him out completely. The most dangerous foe is one who is underestimated.
It’s highly unlikely, but who knows, maybe Berto will summon the spirit of James “Buster” Douglas ala against Mike Tyson and bust any hopes of Mayweather retiring undefeated.