COMMENTARY | Andre Berto's fall from grace has been an extraordinary one.
From being named ESPN's top boxing prospect of 2006 -- beating out future stars including Abner Mares, Timothy Bradley, Vanes Martirosyan, Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios and Andre Ward -- to becoming a shell of his former self that may be on the last legs of a once promising career before he reaches 30. But after watching his performance en route to being stopped in the 12th round against Jesus Soto Karass, we have to wonder if Berto was ever really that good in the first place.
Although some may blame Berto's loss on his injured shoulder, others with a keen eye could see this collapse coming as far back as his 2009 victory over Luis Collazo. The writing was on the wall back then that Berto would be more like Jeff Lacy than Andre Ward.
Remember Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy? You know, the former IBF super middleweight champion that was a powerful stud that slammed his way through Syd Vanderpool, Robin Reid, Scott Pemberton and Omar Sheika before seeing his rise come to a grinding halt when Joe Calzaghe slapped him upside his head for 12 rounds. Lacy was exposed as a one dimensional fighter whose offense was his only defense. After the loss to Calzaghe, Lacy would bounce back with three straight wins before ending his career losing three of his last four bouts.
Lacy's rise ended up being nothing more than a fog of an over-hyped fighter clouding our vision of the mediocre reality he lived in. Andre Berto was no different.
Touted as an unstoppable wrecking machine with blazing hand speed and paralyzing power, Berto soundly thumped a string of mediocre fighters before stepping into the ring with Luis Collazo in 2009. In that fight, a good but not great Collazo gave Berto fits throughout their 12-round affair. Berto faced someone that didn't wilt and opted to stand toe to toe with him. The results were surprising as Collazo repeatedly cracked Berto and nearly knocked him down in the first round.
Berto won a close unanimous decision with scores of 114-113 (twice) and an utterly ridiculous scorecard of 116-111. It was the first time that Berto was exposed as a very touchable fighter who could be in a world of trouble should he face anybody with an ounce of real punching power.
So, perhaps it was a blessing that Berto was unable to face Shane Mosley when a massive earthquake rocked Berto's native Haiti in 2010. Mosley had the power to starch Berto, but the fight never happened and it ultimately bought him some time. That was, until Berto was set to face Victor Ortiz in a 2011 fight that would grant the winner a hall pass to the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes. But Berto was too cocky, too arrogant and hadn't improved enough defensively and paid dearly for his troubles as Ortiz dropped him twice on his way to a unanimous decision victory. It was a fight that Berto was supposed to win, but he simply didn't because he didn't move his head enough and thought he could slug his way to a victory.
A win over Jan Zaveck didn't prove much and when Berto had another chance at the Mayweather sweepstakes a year later against Robert Guerrero, it proved that the former WBC welterweight champion still wasn't ready for the big time. This time, Berto inexplicably tried to employ Mayweather's shoulder roll as a defensive strategy but was scraped repeatedly by Guerrero and dropped yet another unanimous decision. His image had already been fractured prior to the fight when a positive test for a banned substance dashed the Ortiz rematch in June of 2012. The Guerrero loss just put the exclamation point on those issues.
And then there was the fight with Soto Karass. It wasn't as if Soto Karass was a world-beater. The tough Mexican fighter had lost four of his last five fights (the other being a no contest) from 2009-2012 to the likes of Alfonso Gomez, Mike Jones (twice) and Gabriel Rosado. A TKO loss to Marcos Maidana in 2012 provided another bump in the road.
But despite those setbacks, it was far from a formality that Berto would begin his road to redemption against Soto Karass. And so it was Soto Karass being the bull for much of the fight. Berto was banged around repeatedly and once again showed no improvement defensively. By the time Soto Karass slammed a left hook into the brain of Berto and sent him crashing to the canvas, everything that Berto was built to be was already up in smoke. The knockout just punctuated what we already knew.
Andre Berto was never that good. He bought into his own hype and relied too heavily on what made him the 2006 ESPN boxing prospect of the year and ultimately paid dearly for it. The people behind Berto did an excellent job building him up, but the foundation was never strong enough to hold the weight of his hype.
Andre Berto is not the first, nor will he be the last, to be run over by his own stampeding hype train
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets, including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others.
You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
- Sports & Recreation
- Andre Berto
- Andre Ward
- Jesus Soto Karass
- Luis Collazo