By: Sergio L. Martinez
Andre Berto comes into his November 24 showdown against Mexican-American southpaw champion Roberto “Ghost” Guerrero with questions about his legitimacy and viability as an elite fighter in the sport. What started out as a promising career has stalled in the past 18 months, as Berto dropped a tough fight to Victor Ortiz.
Regarding his only loss, Berto has been criticized as, fair or not, Ortiz is known for quitting fights (His jaw was broken clean through against J. Lopez, so in that case it’s definitely not fair–ed). Ortiz is the biggest name on Berto’s resume.
Speaking to Boxing Insider, Berto said, “I mean, like I said: you know that situation happened the way it happened. I wasn’t at my best that night and it showed. I just going to continue to redeem myself and fight to the best of my ability. With [Ortiz] having that stigma, that’s something that he has to live with. I have nothing to do with that. I’m just trying to stay focused and get past the rough year that I had and just move forward.”
Berto added to his problem by testing positive for a banned substance, which ultimately ended in a cancellation of the return bout against Ortiz. The sample was later ruled to be a contamination issue, but the damage had already been done. Despite the sample being ruled a contamination error, many will still question if that truly was the case.
“At this point you really can’t dwell on it,” Berto says.
“I knew I didn’t do anything wrong and it was us taking the right steps and legal procedures to prove our case and we did. It was just some bull. You know, anyone and anybody else who has been caught positive – you know they would be fighting right now or a good two to three months after that. It was a contamination and it’s over now.
“I just want to go in and perform and that’s it. I’m very specific on what we eat. We keep a lot of the same regimens and I got a chance to be informed and I’ve learned so much about things that may cause a contaminated or positive test for everyday food we eat. I’m real smart with what I eat now. I’m just ready to fight and put this past year behind me.”
Even with the year gone and the positive test dispelled, Berto continues to attempt to convince people that he is an elite fighter who is able to, not only be competitive, but win at the highest levels of the sport.
Expectations have always been high for Berto since his days as an amateur star. He was ordained to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2004, but failed to qualify. Upon entering the professional ranks, he was marketed as boxing’s next superstar. Eight years later, Berto is still looking for a signature win.
“It is what it is you know?” Berto says of that situation.
“I mean coming out of the Olympics I was highly touted, and there has always been tremendous expectations, but I feel I’ve held up to them. I do have that a loss on my record, you know, but I keep going and I try to not let the expectations get to me and I do what I know how to do. Fight for you and fight for your family because that’s the only thing that matters.”
If Berto can convincingly beat Guerrero this coming Saturday night, he would take a big step towards moving forward. The “Ghost” has solid boxing skills, is a tricky southpaw, and can box with the best of them. Even though Guerrero is not a natural welterweight, he has shown that he has enough boxing skills and natural ability to be successful at the weight class. It is a risky fight for Berto but one that he had to take.
“It was the fight that came up at the time,” Berto offers.
“I went through a lot of situations and a few other names pretty much cancelled out. It looked like it would be an entertaining fight between me and Robert. He is a good and crafty southpaw that has been getting it done lately, so I’m going to go in there and I’m ready to get back to work.
“I think every fighter at these levels is a difficult fight, but camp has gone tremendous and I’m extremely sharp so I’m ready for anything he brings to the table. I won’t tell you who I’ve been working with but they are some great sparring partners.”
In closing, Berto said, “Right now, I’m just focused on Robert and this fight, man. I’ve been through a lot the past year, but before every blessing comes a storm so I’m looking forward to the future. I just appreciate everyone that has supported me and everyone in general. Keep loving the sport of boxing. I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and going to work. I want to show love to all the people that show me love on fight night.”