By Marc Livitz: Andre Berto has always been seen by many as an all action, no nonsense fighter. The Florida native had an impressive amateur career beginning in 2001 and went on to represent Haiti in the 2004 Olympics, which was permissible due to the fact that Andre’s parents were both Haitian. After amassing over two hundred amateur bouts, Berto turned pro in late 2004 and went on an astonishing undefeated run which included twenty one knockouts through twenty seven fights. He captured the WBC welterweight crown in June 2008 with a knockout win over Miguel Angel Rodriguez. He was go on to be on many "pound for pound" lists and among the candidates to face either Floyd Mayweather, Jr. or Manny Pacquiao. Then came the night of April 16, 2011.
Berto waged an all out war with Victor Ortiz and each fighter earned a piece of the 2011 "Fight of the Year" according to Ring Magazine. Yet the decision went to Ortiz in a bout which featured multiple knockdowns of each fighter. The unanimous decision win was witnessed by Mayweather, Jr. who just happened to be sitting ringside that evening at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut. It was then Ortiz who went on to fight Mayweather, Jr. in September 2011 and he of course lost by knockout when he failed to "protect himself at all times". Berto rebounded with a hard fought win over Jan Zaveck that same month.
He wanted another shot at Victor Ortiz and he seemed poised to get it in June of last year. Unfortunately, the bout was abandoned all together when Berto tested positive for a banned substance. He returned to the ring after a fourteen month layoff last November and was roughed up by Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero. Andre (28(22)-2) was knocked down twice and lost by unanimous decision once again and Guerrero went on to face Mayweather, Jr. a few months ago. Andre is now back and he’s proudly taking part in an event which is being billed as "Knockout Kings II".
He will face Mexican toughman Jesus "Renuente" Soto Karass (27(17)-8(2)-3) of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, MX for the vacant NABF welterweight title at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX on Saturday, July 27. The bout will be televised in the United States on Showtime.
The two fighters as well as Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar de la Hoya spoke to the media earlier today as part of an international conference call. Selected quotes below.
Oscar de la Hoya: "We are all excited to be showcasing the first big event of the summer. San Antonio, TX is now a hotbed for staging big fights with big names. The fans there are some of the best, if not the best in the business. They come out not only to support their favorite fighters, but also the sport of boxing in general. I can assure you that we will have a sellout event. This event is being billed as "Knockout Kings II" and this main event will certainly be an exciting one.
The first televised fight will feature Keith Thurman and he will be looking to bigger and better things. He doesn’t have a test in Diego Chavez. It’s a real fight. Next, Omar Figueroa will look to prove to the fans that he keeps on progressing and moving forward. He’s passed each test with flying colors and he’s ready to step it up. He’ll face Nihito Arakawa. In the main event, Andre Berto will face Jesus Soto Karass for the vacant NABF welterweight title. This fight will showcase the talents of Andre Berto."
Andre Berto opening statements: "Training camp has been tremendous. I’ve been down in the bay area and it’s definitely been one of the toughest camps for me. I’m in tremendous shape and I’m ready to go. I won’t disappoint on the 27th down in San Antonio."
Jesus Soto Karass opening statements: "I am ready for this fight. It will be a war. I have been training at (Daniel) Ponce de Leon’s gym here. I know Berto well and I don’t want to give him any type of advantage. I participated in the first "Knockout Kings" (Las Vegas, September 2012) event and this time I will be part of the main event."
Berto on switching trainers: "It’s a different situation completely. Camp has been technically different. It’s not about working on the same routines and simply getting into shape. We have to get the game plan right. It’s different, but definitely effective. We’ve been working harder and also smarter. We used to just work as hard as hell and pound it every day."
"My teams knows what I’m capable of and I used to be able to get away with certain things in the past. That creates bad habits and that can become first nature."
Andre explains his "shoulder roll" tactics versus Robert Guerrero: "Many people have watched me for a while and they saw that I had my own style. I watched other fighters and I tried to pick up certain things. I had to get back to the basics and do what I do. Stay back, work the defense and work the jab. It’s still easy for someone to pick up another style and see how it works for you. In this camp, Virgil (Hunter) has been able to see all of that. "
"Everyone knows that I’m a hard worker and that I’m always looking to improve. Sometimes, I try different things and see how they work for me. I have been working on perfecting my own game. I just need to stay who I am. If I am on my game, then no one in the welterweight division can touch me. I can’t just go in and bang it out anymore."
Soto Karass on his expectations and his image as a fighter: "I will do my game plan and I can’t worry about him. I can’t worry about the fighter he is or was. I am in great shape and I’m ready for war. Whatever he wants to do, I’ll be ready. If he wants to stand and box or if he wants to fight it out. Doesn’t matter. I’ll be ready."
"It’s nice that the people know of me, but I fight to win. I will give a great performance in the ring and I’m willing to die just like all Mexican fighters. I want to win. This is about my future and the future of my family. My objective is to win. I am expecting a well prepared Andre Berto. I haven’t studied any of his recent fights because I know he’s not going to fight that way this time. The winner of this fight could be in the position for a world title."
Jesus on being the underdog once again: "It doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I know that the fans will always get one hundred percent of me. Whether I am expected to win or not, I am coming to win. I’ll be a little bit smarter in this fight, but I’m still focused on winning."
Closing statements from Andre Berto: "To all the fans in San Antonio, come on out. I know Jesus Soto Karass very well. He knows that I’ll be ready. I can’t wait and I haven’t felt this way in a while. I respect him because he always comes to fight and I’ll ready."
Jesus Soto Karass: "I’ll see on the 27th in San Antonio. You can expect a war. I am coming to win and I know that Berto will be, too."
July 16, 2013