Boxing

'Call Em Out Fridays': Andre Berto - A Forward Motion Or A Paused Progress?

bertoBy Vivek Wallace: In little more than two weeks from now fight fans will get a chance to spectate as one of the sports rising stars attempts yet again to solidify his place in one of the games most deepest divisions. In today's welterweight landscape, it's typically names like Mayweather, Mosley, Cotto, and Margarito that get most of the attention, but if the evolution of Andre Berto pans out the way many think it can, that may all change. The name Andre Berto hasn't quite met that same global appeal as those others to date, but for those who do know of him, there's no denying that the opinions which follow the young stud typically contrast more than probably desired.

To take a peak at the best examples of these contrasting views one has to look no further than the very details that outline his existence in the sport. Many fight fans will quickly take note of the fact that he's the current owner of perhaps the most coveted strap in the game, the WBC title, which is the same 'green belt' that former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather once donned.. Then they look at the record he boast, which is a blazing 24-0, flanked by 19KO's. After viewing the stats and getting excited about this new lion in the midst of a chaotic jungle, then comes the biggest assessment to review of them all....which is his actual talent on display in the ring. Despite notching all those other accolades and cool points (for lack of better terms), it's his actions in the ring that lately has led many to question exactly how good he can be. Conventional logic says that it's pretty tough to question a fighter with this type of speed, power, and physical attributes; another train of thought strongly begs to differ. Recent episodes in the ring have done few favors for Berto. Be it the knockdown caused by Cosme Rivera, the dog fight ensued by Stevie Forbes, or what some saw as blatant robbery against Luis Collazo; at the end of the day, the reputation of Berto doesn't quite walk away as squeaky clean as it arrived.

All things remaining equal, it's a bit hard to really gauge the true worth of Berto because in many ways the young fighter is still a work in progress. Many critics have been very vocal about the ability of Berto, but few take into account that this a fighter who has been in the ring less than 5 years to date. The unfortunate conundrum about Berto is the fact that despite only having four years under his belt (no pun intended), he holds a strap in the midst of a very dangerous zone - (140lbs - 147lbs) - where any of the top fighters between the two weight classes can become an instant threat. Some have argued that he was sheltered and basically gift-wrapped a shot at a title against a contender who had no more business in the ring with him for a vacant strap than Tommy Chucker 'the neighborhood sucker'. Such an argument holds a certain level of credibility, but for those who haven't quite checked the stats, when you look around at his contemporaries, it's quite obvious that the early paths did in fact parallel. After the same number of pro fights, Miguel Cotto had tested the waters against a few decent names like Maussa, Pinto, and N'Dou, but his biggest name to that point was DeMarcus 'Chop Chop' Corley. Shane Mosley, (a legendary fighter in his own right) had fought few notables at all until his 24th fight which came against IBF champ Philip Holiday. In an effort to raise the bar a bit, we touch the land of P4P supremacy, where Manny Pacquiao had faced no highly notables after 24 pro fights, and Mayweather had notched approximately two (Hernandez and Manfredy), with Corrales (RIP) standing on deck. So, the point isn't to say that these fighters have padded records, but rather to point out that each of them went on to establish global supremacy in a way that few knew would exist at the time. The key is that they were all given that time to develop. Was Berto pushed along too fast? Some would argue that point, but true or false, he now stands at the biggest ball in town and his only option is to dance or give another rug-cutter the chance!

As of now, he continues his evolution. Will that evolution come full circle? Or will fate take a bite, leaving another saga with an untold story? These are two simple questions that will either be answered or leave room for more to be raised. Tune in on Saturday, May 30th, to HBO when Berto returns to the ring for the first time following his questionable decision against Luis Collazo where he'll once again find himself in position to answer the same questions from the same critics.

(Got questions or feedback? Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com or 954-292-7346, follow more of his work at 8CountNews and The Examiner, or show some love at Facebook and Myspace)

Article posted on 15.05.2009



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