Berto vs. Zavec: Head to Head Analysis

By Joseph Herron: On Saturday, September 3rd, Andre Berto (27-1, 21 KOs) gets another shot at welterweight gold when he faces the current IBF Welterweight Champion Dejan Zavec (31-1, 18 KOs) on HBO at 10:30 PM EST.

In the media, Andre Berto has been criticized for getting another title shot so soon after losing his WBC strap to Vicious Victor Ortiz back in April of this year in an exciting candidate for “fight of the year”. But, even in loss, Andre Berto put forth a valiant effort worthy of recognition from the boxing public, and definitely worthy of another shot at the title.

He faces an unheralded fighter in the U.S., but not an unworthy opponent for HBO Championship boxing. Jan Zavec is a very good fighter who became the IBF Champion for a reason. If anyone expects Berto to walk away with the title with little or no effort, they are in for a real shock this Saturday night in Biloxi, MS.

So let’s get to it and match ‘em up!!

Tale of the Tape

Andre Berto – The 27 year old fighter from Winter Haven, FL, is 5’8 ½” in height and possesses a 72” reach. Berto fights in an orthodox stance and has great natural athleticism, which includes impressive speed and power. His chin has been questioned due to being floored twice during his previous fight with Victor Ortiz, as well as being hurt in the first round of his battle with crafty southpaw Luis Collazo in 2009.

Andre Berto is an enigma and can be viewed as “frustrating” to most boxing die-hards. Berto has the hand speed and power to be considered an elite fighting machine, but lacks the technical brilliance to garner that distinction. He fights flat footed most of the time and squares up right in front of his adversaries. As a result, Berto can be hit by most opponents. He was floored by Cosme Rivera in their meeting on ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights back in 2007.

Too often, Berto will focus on delivering one counter punch at a time and will forget that he has the skill-set to put punches together in combination. He has the intelligence to fight his opponents at angles, but the guns and the confidence not to do it…well at least that was the case before his first loss to Victor Ortiz.

Will we see the same seemingly arrogant version of Andre Berto against a technically sound opponent now that he’s experienced his first loss? If he wants to win the title, he will have to fight a more intelligent type of fight on Saturday night.

Jan Zavec – The 35 year old orthodox fighter from Slovenia comes into the fight as the reigning and defending IBF Welterweight Champion. He stands at a height of 5’7” and fights with a tight defense in a typical Eastern European peek-a-boo position.

He has very underrated upper body and head movement for an Eastern European fighter and uses a very good, stiff jab to set up combinations. He throws tight, compact punches and can fight any opponent at angles effectively. What Zavec lacks in natural athleticism, he makes up for with disciplined technical craftiness.

He can counter his opponents effectively if he chooses to let his hands go, but like a lot of his contemporaries, Zavec will often wait for his opponents to stop punching before he decides to let his punches fly.

He can box any opponent but can force the action as well. He is a very skilled fighter who has a better than average chin. His mental and physical toughness are his strongest attributes.

Keys to Victory

We’ve seen two versions of Berto on the big stage: the fighter who loads up with one punch at a time and the boxer/puncher who fought Juan Urango in May of 2009.

If Berto wants to win this fight, he has to respect Zavec’s technical brilliance and box him while putting his punches together in combination. Zavec has a tendency to wait until his opponents stop throwing before he launches an attack, especially against a fighter with the punching power of an Andre Berto.

If Berto can outwork Dejan and keep him at bay by using a good stiff jab and crisp combinations, the former WBC champ can outwork Zavec and win a unanimous decision based on workrate.

Zavec has a very tight peek-a-boo defense and is going to be very hard to hit cleanly, so Berto has to be in the mindset that he has to outwork his opponent by using the entire ring. Berto absolutely must stay off the ropes and keep turning his opponent while trying to catch Dejan as he’s coming in.

If he fights a smart tactical battle by throwing punches in bunches while using the ring effectively, he will win the 12 round contest with a unanimous decision and become the new IBF Welterweight Champion.

Jan Zaveck is very workmanlike effective and has the prowess to counter his opponents effectively when he has to, but usually elects to wait until his opponents stop punching.

If Zavec wants to hold on to his IBF title, he cannot wait for Berto to stop punching before launching an attack. Jan must move forward and press the action while using his excellent stiff jab to set up combinations to the body and head.

He has to let his hands go and counter Berto when the moment presents himself. Zavec has to earn Berto’s respect early and keep him fighting off of his back foot. He cannot allow Berto to gain confidence in the first half of the fight, and absolutely must choose to counter Berto as much as he can.

If he constantly presses the action while using his superior head and upper body movement, he can win the fight based on effective aggression and clean punching.

Zavec has to win the fight with a workmanlike effort because he does not have the speed or power of Andre Berto.

If Dejan sticks to his gameplan and fights to his strengths, he will retain his IBF title and make a name for himself on Saturday night in Biloxi, MS.

Fight Prediction

This bout will prove to be a very entertaining and highly skilled affair between two great fighters in the Welterweight division.

The fight’s outcome will depend on mental toughness. Both fighters are very physically durable, but whoever has the mental toughness to stick to their game plan and utilize their strengths throughout the entire bout will win this fight.

I feel that at this stage in both fighters’ careers, Zavec has the mental edge and will outwork Berto for at least eight of the twelve rounds.

Unfortunately, the judges will award Berto a split decision victory based on the harder punches thrown.

This fight will end with a controversial split decision victory for the new IBF Welterweight Champion Andre Berto.

Article posted on 03.09.2011

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