Mailbag: Berto's mistake

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

Andre Berto is one of boxing's good guys. He worked tirelessly to raise money for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

He's a friendly presence on the social networking website Twitter, where he easily and frequently interacts with his fans. Berto has more than 9,900 followers and has made more than 5,500 tweets. And unlike some celebrities and/or prominent athletes, he doesn't have a publicist tweeting for him.

But on Monday, Berto's openness came back to haunt him.

He was distressed when he learned that former lightweight champion Edwin Valero had committed suicide in his jail cell in Venezuela, a day after Valero was accused of murdering his wife, Jennifer Viera.

On Monday morning, Berto wrote the following on Twitter: "R.I.P to Edwin Valero after killing his wife yesterday he just killed himself in jail today. WOW women are a [expletive] boy RIP E.V."

The backlash against Berto, the World Boxing Council welterweight champion, was fast and furious and it wasn't long before he deleted the tweet and offered condolences to Valero and Viera and their families.

His comment was clearly in outrageously bad taste, particularly when referring to a murder victim.

Give Berto credit, though, for understanding that. His mother and sisters were angry at him, but he realized he had gone over the edge.

He spoke to Yahoo! Sports by telephone late Monday afternoon and said at the time he made the post, he had problems with his girlfriend and had just broken up.

"The comment was made, pretty much, in kind of the heat of a personal frustration for myself and what I was going through in my personal life with my girlfriend," Berto said. "That comment wasn't directed toward Jennifer at all. It was said out of frustration and I didn't mean it that way at all. It wasn't intentional.

"Everybody who knows me or who has been around me knows I have the utmost respect for women in general. That's just me, that's just my morals, that's the way I was raised. This was a tragic situation. Someone got killed. Why would anyone make a derogatory comment?"

Berto said he learned a deep lesson and will think before he writes in the future. He's been a good ambassador for boxing and doesn't deserve to be turned into a villain because of one clearly inappropriate, unacceptable comment.

The Valero case is an epic tragedy and there are children aged 8 and 5 who are now orphaned because of it.

Berto reflected poorly on himself by his words, but the pain was evident in his voice as he spoke and it's obvious he gets it.

He's usually done the right thing at the right time in his life and here's hoping he learns from this and will do the right thing again.

With that, let's hop into the mailbag where I'll respond to your questions and comments about the Valero tragedy, the Sergio Martinez-Kelly Pavlik fight and other boxing topics.

Horrible tragedy

What a quick, ugly spiral that took the life of Edwin Valero. In February, he posted his best all-around victory, over Antonio DeMarco. Valero was an unbeaten, exciting knockout puncher with unlimited potential, the star of Showtime boxing. After his victory over DeMarco, we learn of alcohol and drug problems. Shortly after, we learn of a domestic abuse situation involving his wife. Then weeks later, we learn that his wife was found stabbed to death, and he admitted it, and now days later he is found dead in his jail cell. This all happened so quickly. What is your take on all of this?

Westerville, Ohio

It's a horrible tragedy. A young woman was murdered. Two innocent children are left orphaned, without their mother or their father. A promising athlete is dead. Valero clearly had many demons in his life. As a boxer, he was rapidly improving. He always had amazing power, but he was a wild puncher with almost no technical skills. But he began to develop nicely and showed great courage and much improved skills in his fight with DeMarco. I just pray the children are taken care of and have as normal a life as can possibly be expected.

Helping troubled fighters

I can't help but feel sad for Edwin Valero, though I am repulsed by what he did to his wife. He was a great boxer with lots of demons. What I feel so uneasy about, though, is how boxers have been dying of late. Arturo Gatti committed suicide, as well. I wonder if management and others in boxing are doing enough to help these men with their mental issues? What's your take on it?

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

First, let me make the point that the Gatti family vehemently contests the idea that Arturo committed suicide and insist it was murder. But you make a great point, Keegan, and sadly, little is done to help boxers. I think it would be terrific if a fund could be set up to help current and retired boxers. Perhaps every state and/or country that licenses a fighter can collect an additional $5 and put that into a pool. Instead of sanctioning bodies collecting a three- percent fee for sanctioning title fights, they could cut that fee to 1.5 percent and donate the other 1.5 percent to a boxer fund. And maybe 25 cents from every ticket or pay-per-view sold could be added. The fund could be used to help boxers with medical care, provide them with job training and otherwise act as a safety net. Unfortunately, I wouldn't hold my breath for anyone in the sport to do much of anything to help.

Could it have been prevented?

With his brain injury and substance abuse problems, Edwin Valero's situation is similar to that of ex-pro wrestler Chris Benoit [who murdered his wife and son in 2007 before committing suicide]. Do you think Valero was a wasted talent? He was only 28 and in his prime. He even had an outside shot at landing a fight with Manny Pacquiao. I've read about his numerous issues and that he was supposed to check into a rehab facility weeks ago, and I'm wondering why Top Rank did not make sure that Valero was not on loose. Had he been treated, this tragedy may have been prevented.

Dante Perez
Quezon City, Phillipines

Top Rank only promoted Valero for a short time and was his co-promoter at that. There is an eerie similar to Benoit, I believe. That's a good comparison, Dante. He was highly skilled and if he could have even become just an average boxer, he would have been one of the greats. Someone in his life failed him, but it wasn't Top Rank.

New trainer needed

I am a huge Kelly Pavlik supporter and will continue to be, even after this latest setback. Do you think it is time for Kelly to look at hiring a more "elite" trainer, say Emanuel Steward, Freddie Roach or someone of that caliber? It just seems that Pavlik hasn't shown the growth as a fighter that Lucian Bute, Sergio Martinez and Paul Williams have shown. Now, maybe that is due to talent and athleticism (or lack thereof), but my guess is Pavlik's corner is somewhat limited as well. The cut man was a disaster and other than the middle four rounds, there didn't seem to be many adjustments during the course of the fight? Pavlik seemed completely surprised by Martinez's speed and quickness. Did they not notice that on tape and bring in similar fighters for sparing? Your thoughts?


There have been calls for Jack Loew's dismissal going back years, as Pavlik was coming through the ranks. Loew isn't as good of a trainer as Roach, but he did teach Pavlik the game and Pavlik wound up winning the middleweight title. What I see is this: Pavlik wasn't conditioned properly (Pavlik's fault) and he's not skilled enough to take on real slick, crafty boxers. He's a big puncher and he's going to beat most of the guys who stand in front of him or try to trade with him. That's why he had success with Jermain Taylor. But someone like Martinez was far too fast and elusive and Pavlik is never going to have success with a guy like that. It wouldn't hurt to bring someone in to work alongside Loew, but I believe Pavlik's failures have more to do with bad matchups than anything. Guys like Martinez and Bernard Hopkins are crafty, slick fighters who will give Pavlik plenty of issues no matter who's training him.

Cut man was an abomination

I think the Pavlik fight was a travesty. Kelly's corner did not give him a shot with the manner in which the cut man [Sid Brumback] took care of those two eye cuts from the ninth round on. It's a real shame. Kelly's a great fighter, but I think he needs a better cut man, and to give some consideration on moving up to 168.

Rich Yarger
St. Louis Park, Minn.

Pavlik had one of the best cut men in the game, Miguel Diaz, working for him and he fired him. Brumback did a poor job on Saturday and it was a factor in the fight, no doubt. Pavlik needs to reconsider that decision to fire Diaz.


Lucian Bute is an exciting fighter to watch. I think he would have knocked a prime Joe Calzaghe out. How do you think he would fare against Calzaghe?

Shawn Buck
Richmond, Va.

I agree that Lucian is an exciting fighter and I look forward to seeing him more. Remember, though, that he once lost to Librado Andrade. While an exciting, all-action fighter, Andrade has very limited skills. Calzaghe retired unbeaten and did away with guys like that. I don't think Bute would have beaten a prime Calzaghe, let alone knocked him out.

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