I arrived late.
About an hour before arriving at Barclays Center for Keith Thurman versus Danny Garcia on March 4, I'd received an e-mail with news of a presser involving Shawn Porter and Andre Berto.
Without giving the news a chance for explanation, I moved the e-mail into the “Trash” section.
This was arrogance, for after settling into the dinner buffet area for media, I noticed Porter speaking with a few members of the press in what felt like parting shots of sorts.
I bumped into his father Kenny before sitting down at the table. “What did I miss?” I asked the elder Porter, in what felt like stupid curiosity.
“We fight Andre Berto here on April 22… Gone be a rumble,” whispered Kenny with a cryptic smile while patting me on the back.
Right away, thoughts of the old videogame “Mike Tyson's Punchout!!” started resonating in a way that–for me as a fan, put immediate pressure on Thurman v Garcia. There is no fucking way that Porter V Berto is anything but an action fight and you're crazy as hell if you miss it.
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On Wednesday, I journeyed to Brooklyn looking for a different perspective on what should be a classic. Down the street from Barclays Center is the legendary eatery Junior's on Flatbush Ave and DeKalb. I'm there to meet with writer Joanna Maj to dish about what should be an amazing card.
Before entering the diner famous for its “New York Cheesecake” I notice a garbage can about a block away posterized by Porter v Berto while drawn to an odd symbolism and dichotomy. This fight is [not garbage] and neither are they. Upon seeing it herself against the backdrop of Brooklyn's soul as art, Joanna takes a picture of the can before arriving.
She's fashionably late, I've already ordered (at her behest) and she starts eating my pickles. My songstress of a waitress Tasha already knows her name and begins conversing with her as I get a call from fight aficionado Melvin “Doc” Stanley during his podcast.
Both Joanna and Tasha look at each other and agree I should take the call.
“Taz, sorry to bother you man (btw he's not, but anyway…), how do you see Porter V Berto?” asked Doc, who is to me in boxing terms, like your favorite Uncle is to you.
“It's a prime welterweight Leon Spinks against a 147 lb Clubber Lang that's seen better days before Rocky. Porter should blast him out in six or seven rounds– but OMG what a fight!” I suggested.
The Golden State Warriors play a brand of videogame basketball that is beyond aesthetically pleasing, so it makes sense that a transplanted one would work in the ring against virtually anyone. It is very difficult for Andre Berto to be in a boring fight, in as much as it became almost impossible for Floyd Mayweather to have an exciting one. Yet, Mayweather v Berto was palatable on the eyes in September 2015 largely because of Berto, who was admirable in defeat.
Since teaming with trainer Virgil Hunter, Oakland based architect of the great Andre Ward, Berto (31-4, 24KO's) has shown a renewed resolve and purpose. He loses to Josesito Lopez in March 2015 were it not for Hunter's philosophical ire. During his time under former Jay-Z partner Damon Dash, Berto was seen as a welterweight King Kong with an attack that was as fearsome as it was fearless.
In January 2010, shortly before he was set to have a potential superstar making fight with “Sugar” Shane Mosley before his native Haiti was rocked by an earthquake, he cancelled the fight—and seemingly with it, the promise of his career.
Then came the epic pitched battle with Victor Ortiz and a swollen shut bludgeoning at the hands of Robert Guerrero. But the absolute nadir occurred against ordinary Jesus Soto Karass, which saw a technically flawed and mentally vacant Berto get crushed via 12th round stoppage. He's had three wins under Hunter, but virtually no one sees enough grit to overcome a freight train in Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16KO's).
The former IBF welterweight champion and intense sparring partner of Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao is a linebacker in the ring. Ask Paulie Malignaggi, who received the beating of his life at the hands of Porter. Keith Thurman didn't so much as beat Porter, in as much as he survived him. The same can be said of Kell Brook. I don't expect Berto to survive or beat Porter, but that doesn't mean there'll be any disappointment either.
I asked Joanna what she thought of the match-up and her response was, well, thoughtful. “I don't analyze fights at all. You see styles; I see committed personalities within different men. I don't want to think of a result. I just want to see it, and then know why.”