Andre Berto: Junior Welterweight Contender?

By Derek Bonnett: I have heard grumblings, but no one has come right out and asked. What the hell is Andre Berto doing?

Boxing’s premiere cable network knows the answer to this and is probably responsible for much of the blame. After all, it was HBO that manipulated the aura of Berto because the network wanted him to be a superstar when he simply was not ready and, probably, lacked most of the salient qualities of greatness. In their blind quest for the next best thing, HBO fed us a hoax of a world title bout between Berto and Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who, like Berto, had previously never beaten a world class opponent.

Since becoming champion in June of 2008, Berto, 27, has successfully defended his title against the safest of title challengers. Only once in those two years did he face a legitimate welterweight contender and fulfill his mandatory defense obligation. That bout came against Luis Collazo and many observers felt Berto was on the receiving end of a lucky decision. Also in that time, Berto posted clear decisions over Steve Forbes and Juan Urango, who were 140 pounders. Now, the rumor mill has Berto working out a deal to fight Victor Ortiz, another 140 pound contender who, not surprisingly, has looked vulnerable in recent outings.

As a welterweight titlist, Andre Berto appears more preoccupied with solidifying his standing at junior welterweight than within his own division. The only ray of sunshine in Berto’s entire reign was the build up to his ill-fated bout with Shane Mosley. As we all know, that bout was cancelled last January due to the tragic earthquake which devastated Haiti, the nation of Berto’s family origin. Oddly enough, that which destroyed his people, prolonged his title reign.

As of right now, Andre Berto’s career, 27-0 (21), is defined by a natural disaster and a fight that did not happen. The most scintillating of victories over Victor Ortiz will not compensate for this concerning his legacy nor remunerate his fans for the lost time spent supporting a coward. It’s time for Berto to seek a legitimate challenge at 147 pounds. The division boasts plenty of fighters with more than enough mettle to challenge the HBO manufactured champion. Fighters such as, Jan Zaveck, Joshua Clottey, Selcuk Aydin, Alfonso Gomez, Mike Jones and Ionut Dan Ion are all deserving contenders.

I recently read that Junior Witter planned to make a comeback at welterweight. Witter is a past his prime, former WBC junior welterweight champion. Those sound like excellent credentials for a shot at Berto’s WBC welterweight title.

We know the WBC would dare to sink this low, but would HBO and Andre Berto? Sadly, based on the precedence set by Berto’s career, we cannot say for sure.

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