Prizefight Preview: A Long Road Up to Recovery for Andre Berto
- Updated: July 26, 2013
“It’s a long road up to recovery from here, a long way back to the light. A long road up to recovery from here, a long way to making it right.” – Frank Turner
Andre Berto (28-2, 22 KOs) at the bright, young age of 29 has seemingly lived nine lives in his professional prizefighting career; a myriad of lofty highs and eviscerating lows. He knows what it’s like to make millions of dollars while being the marquee promotional piece of a major television network and he is also acquainted with the pain of losing several chances to capture a fight with boxing’s biggest prize: Floyd Mayweather. Now, Berto’s career is in the midst of a do-or-die moment that will define the remainder of his career. When he steps into the ring with the veteran Jesus Soto-Karrass (28-7-3, 17 KOs) on Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas (Showtime, 9 PM EST), he’ll be faced with a fight that he must win in order for him to remain as a legitimate contender in the welterweight division. In other words, any hope that Berto possesses of restoring his career runs through Texas and Saturday night.
As previously mentioned, Berto knows what it’s like to live the gifted life of a young prizefighter who has been blessed with several advantages. Andre possessed a successful amateur background, model-like looks and a relatively aggressive style that endeared him to both fans and television networks. It was that combination that had several powerful entities seeing a potential superstar. Thus, Berto fed off easy opponents for much of his early career before being carefully guided into a welterweight title. However, the grumbles about Berto soon grew as he never seemed to move past “B Level” opposition. To make matters worse, the times that he had stepped up to face loftier pugilists, he was ultimately defeated by fighters who apparently wanted the victory more. Both losing efforts against Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero were ugly wars of attrition in which both men seemingly beat Berto into submission. These defeats, coupled with a positive drug test for performance enhancing substances – tests that would later turn out to be contaminated — eventually turned Berto into a pariah among fans on social media.
Now, he’s looking to use Saturday’s clash against Karass as a springboard back into contention and as an opportunity to showcase himself as a possible opponent for the winner of September’s showdown between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather. For the fight, Berto enacted several reforms including the sacking of longtime trainer Tony Morgan in favor of boxing’s current “it” cornerman, Virgil Hunter. Furthermore, he’s removed from his longtime home at HBO and now finds himself as part of the Showtime boxing team. “I’ve been through some ups and downs. I feel that I have made some of the right changes that I needed to get focused. I have a new team and I’m dedicated to win another world title.” stated Berto during a recent press conference.
However, his opponent, Karass, is not to be confused with a world-beater. Karass’ most significant win is against fringe contender Selkuk Aydin, but he still represents a tough, willing fighter who has a reputation for playing spoiler. Karass’ reputation as a no nonsense, straight-ahead fighter was exemplified by his recent words about the upcoming fight in which he laid out his plans in blunt terms, “I’m getting into the ring to kick my opponent’s ass. That’s my game plan.”
Ultimately, Berto’s speed and natural size will likely win the day in this main event. Berto is the heavy favorite for a reason and he has feasted on opposition like this in the past. Luckily, Karass will make for an interesting fight as long it lasts. Do not expect an exhibition in technical prowess, but rather a slugfest of fighters looking to make a statement. In the end, isn’t that what the fans expect?
The undercard of the Showtime card is likely to be just as interesting as the main event. Both fights that round out the telecast will feature young, exciting prospects that Golden Boy Promotions hopes to turn into mainstream stars. Welterweight Keith Thurman (20-0, 18 KOs) will be taking another step up in his career against Argentina’s Diego Chaves (22-0, 18 KOs) in a battle of heavy-hitting, unbeaten prospects. Thurman is the showpiece in his clash, but many observers believe that Chaves has a legitimate shot of upsetting the apple cart. The always brash Thurman, however, clearly relishes the opportunity, “I don’t expect this fight to go more than two rounds. If the fight goes more than two rounds, find me and I will give you a refund.”
The card will also showcase emerging contender Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17 KOs), who seeks to claim the interim WBC lightweight title. His opponent will be Japan’s Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16 KOs). Figueroa is best known for blasting Abner Cotto (16-1) out in one round on the undercard of Saul Alvarez’s successful bout against Austin Trout – which also emanated from San Antonio. Golden Boy is now hoping that Figueroa’s momentum will carry over to Saturday night.