Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter: Start time, odds, card on Showtime, predictions
The former welterweight titlists square off in Saturday's welterweight title eliminator
As former welterweight titlist Andre Berto recently looked back over his 13-year professional career, he couldn't help but pause and reflect upon the many highs and lows.
"It's crazy to say … I'm an old vet now," Berto said.
On Saturday, Berto (31-4, 24 KOs) enters what could be his final shot at a headlining role against one of the welterweight division's elite when he faces Shawn Porter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (Showtime, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT). The winner becomes the mandatory opponent for Keith Thurman's WBC 147-pound title.
The first half of his career might best be summed up as "too much, too soon," as Berto, now 33, received praise and financial reward before fully earning it inside the ring.
"I came up really fast and I didn't take the sport as seriously as I needed to because I was feeling invincible -- a world champion with millions of dollars," Berto said. "I would go into a training camp, three or four weeks before a fight, just to drop all the weight real quick. I would just do a lot of foolish things and that's when the downslope came and it hit me like a ton of bricks."
Berto's decline was steep. He's just 4-4 since 2010, with his career turned into a constant roller coaster. He has battled injuries and suffered devastating defeats, including a 2013 knockout loss to Jesus Soto Karass. Just two years later, however, he scaled the sport's summit when Berto was chosen by Floyd Mayweather for his retirement bout -- a one-sided loss on pay-per-view that felt like a sparring match.
"Everything I have encountered in this fight game has come in the public eye," Berto said. "They have seen me get knocked down, they have seen me fall. They have seen me get embarrassed and get eyes swelled up. They have seen me go through all that s---.
"They'll write you off quick in this game and that's just how the game goes. I can't sit there and just be upset at it. I knew what I was getting into."
For Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs), himself a former titleholder, the fight offers a doorway back into another big fight after a pair of losses in recent years to welterweight elites Thurman and Kell Brook.
At 29, Porter remains at the peak of his prime. The loss to Thurman last June in their Fight of the Year candidate was incredibly tight (115-113 on all three scorecards) and the result still stings him.
"I was at the Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia [in March, won by Thurman] and I thought that it could have been me that night," Porter said. "But I've reminded myself that my time is coming and this is the first step towards that. The No. 1 thing for me is to win this fight and show Keith Thurman that I'm ready for the rematch.
"I'm going to let Keith Thurman know that I'm coming for him. I'm going to make sure that he knows that I want him. I'm going to do everything I can to get that fight after I get past this one."
Here's how the fight card for Saturday night in New York breaks down, including Jermell Charlo defending his WBC junior middleweight title against Charles Hatley.
Shawn Porter -600
Andre Berto +400
Jermell Charlo (c) -1200
Charles Hatley +700
Junior middleweight title
Amanda Serrano -1200
Dahiana Santana +650
Porter can be best described as a "power boxer." While skilled in terms of speed and footwork, which he uses to close the distance on his opponents, he's most effective when throwing caution to the wind and exploding at close range with combinations.
"Shawn, he has shown in the past he can brawl," Berto said. "He can press the guys out. He might try to use something new in this fight, I'm not sure. We can box, we can bang, we can do whatever we want to do as well."
Berto, in many ways, is a poor man's version of what the athletic Porter brings to the table. With a short reach and undisciplined style, Berto has never been one to work long off his jab or control distance. It typically doesn't take long for the majority of his fights to turn into a brawl.
Both fighters are tweeners in the sense that each are too skilled to be tabbed as reckless brawlers who do so out of necessity yet not refined enough to be considered pure boxers. But considering the miles on Berto's odometer, the physical advantages favor Porter, who is more likely to find success moving in and out should he decide to, and possesses much better footwork to do so.
"Andre Berto is dangerous if you allow him to be," Porter said. "We do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen. I have no doubt in my mind that we won't be in any danger on Saturday night."
Porter has studied Berto's recent fights and has made a note of how effective Mayweather's footwork was in stifling him. He also referenced the job Josesito Lopez did in boxing Berto behind his jab for six rounds before succumbing to a knockout.
"The jab will be a key to this fight," Porter said. "I can throw my jab a lot of different ways. You'll see me using my jab a lot in this fight."
Upon hearing that Porter would consider using the boxing template used by Mayweather against him, Berto didn't appear worried, saying, "That's fine. I mean, that's his business." One thing Berto made clear was that at this stage in his career, he's no longer reliant solely upon his athleticism and toughness to win fights.
"We're doing things for a reason -- not just out there throwing punches because we can," Berto said. "Not just always just being fast because we can, or being strong because we can. Everything is for a purpose and we've just been fine-tuning everything."
Porter best summed up the attraction to this fight for fans by pointing out the inevitable direction the fight will likely go.
"When it's time for the fight, Andre Berto and I are going to put on a show," Porter said. "I've seen this man get hit, I've seen him get put down and he got up. I know he can be hurt and I know he can be stopped, He's a man just like me."
Berto can still crack with that quick overhand right and offers elite level toughness, including a willingness to fight through severe injuries, which he did against Soto Karass by brawling essentially with one arm due to a shoulder injury. But the fact that Porter can win the fight whether he decides to box, brawl or ideally mix both gives him too much of an advantage.
This fight will provide the fireworks it advertises, and don't be surprised to see Berto getting off the canvas multiple times only to keep coming forward. In the end, give me Porter by unanimous decision in a crowd-pleasing affair.
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