Nobody would have begrudged Andre Berto if he had chosen to give his body a rest, and stepped away from the sport of boxing after making a career best payday against Floyd Mayweather, in 2015, in what was purported to be Floyd’s last fight.
Berto, after all, was 31, and had been a pro since 2004.
This sport isn’t known for encouraging longevity, lord knows, and his body had sent him messages, hurtful ones, that it would like him to take up something less taxing in 2011 and 2012. The injuries had been piling up, but the Florida based boxer wasn’t keen on pulling the plug on scheduled fights. Thus, his boxrec from that period is a bit of a train wreck.
An L to Victor Ortiz, a win versus Jan Zaveck the same year, then back to back losses to Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass in 2012 and 2013. I asked Berto, who was present at the famed and fabled Gleason’s Gym in DUMBO, Brooklyn for a Wednesday media workout ahead of his Saturday tango against Shawn Porter at Barclays Center, if he’d been tempted to hang up those symbols of strength and perseverance, and try to kick his addiction to the sweet science?
“Yeah,” he admitted, in a Florida drawl. Same went for the lure of walking away after that Mayweather fight. No one would have busted his chops. “Yes, people said that to me, when you reach that point, that pinnacle, you see people doing that. Marcos Maidana, etc. But where I was, and where I am, it feels like a resurgence. I’m in a good space, for sure.”
And where he is, is this: healthy. His body is now cooperating, he tells me, and that means he is feeling good about fighting, and about his chances against the welterweight rumbler Porter, on PBC/Lou Dibella card. “I feel good mentally, physically, and want to get what’s mine before I leave,” he said.
So there you have it, he did maybe contemplate exiting this stage, but not for long. “You know me, Mike, what I am…warrior,” he continued. “I had a lot of health issues.” But he fought on, with “fuck it” mentality. “The only people that knew were my family and manager.”
Indeed; it’s in his blood, in their blood, it makes leaving akin to shedding an addiction, in many cases.
A win means the victor is up a notch in a loaded division, and a conclusive win means another shot at a title, quite likely. His affiliation with sage Virgil Hunter has made him a better boxer, he told me, one who now thinks and fights, and doesn’t just go off instinct.
Berto has heard that Porter might be looking to be a boxer, look to move and be selective and smart and less the pressurizing rumbler we’ve become accustomed to. He chuckles at the thought, indicating he thinks that Porter will be Porter come fight night, during a bout to screen on Showtime. “Last nine weeks, we’ve been getting ready for everything,” he said. “He could try to rumble, try to box…I’m ready to go,” Berto said. “I’m injury free, in shape…I’m focused, and all the talk is over.