Boxing


'Call Em Out Fridays': Andre Berto - On the brink, or not what you think?

Andre Berto16.01.09 - By Vivek Wallace: In this weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment we shift the spotlight to one of Boxing's rising stars. Eager to make a splash in the sports deepest, most competitive division, the young Andre Berto finds himself on the cusp of what could be a career defining moment where he will either step into the realm of the elite, or prove unworthy to be amongst them. His next opponent, (Luis Collazo), stands at the doorstep awaiting entrance as well, but in the end, only one man will move on. As we gauge the potential of the young Berto, like all other 'Call Em Out Fridays' segments, we analyze all angles. A 'supportive' perspective, a more non-supportive 'critics' perspective, and in the end to tie all loose ends, we view a more 'neutral' perspective. So, with no further ado, we now shine the spotlight on a man known to some as a true Haitian sensation...Andre Berto...

Andre Berto - (Supportive Perspective): At only the tender age of 25, Andre Berto currently stands as one of the sports most promising talents. His amateur days were a sheer testament of things to come, as his many accolades - which include two-time PAL champion, three-time U.S. amateur championship medalist, etc - gave a deep glimpse into what was more to come.. Standing at a modest 5'8", the middleweight-like chiseled frame coupled with explosive power and speed make for a very intriguing, if not purely intimidating specimen. In December of 2004, Berto made his professional debut in Little Rock, Arkansas, and never looked back, knocking out 13 of his first 15 career opponents over the two year span. The way in which he would dispatch his opposition made it all look too easy, prompting many to begin to question his level of competition. The careless whispers of his critics weren't enough to slow down the determined Berto as he pressed on, compiling what now stands at a solid 19KO's in 23 fights. It the post-Mike Tyson era of the sport, many fight fans have developed a penchant for trying to identify the sports next KO artist, and Berto in some ways whet that appetite. Whether it was the punishing hooks, the lead rights set up with the soft jab, or another one of his patented shots, his offensive assault is poetry-in-motion, constantly earning the respect of fight fans and future foes alike. The offensive weaponry has been quite a spectacle to watch as it evolves, but the whispers of his critics have suddenly began to evolve as well, recently approaching a deafening tone. The fact that Berto has only fought 99 total rounds in his career is viewed as a bittersweet effect. Sweet because it shows his pure ability to get opponents out of the ring, bitter because it shows exactly how raw he still is as a pro. The upside of Berto is tremendous, but the 'critics' perspective certainly reveals a few questions in need of immediate answers. To address those questions, we now take a look at the many criticisms at the forefront of the Berto mission....

Andre Berto - (Critics Perspective): When listening to those who find flaws surrounding Berto, it's a bit difficult not to admit the legitimacy of most. As purely talented as he is, the fact that he has only fought 99 rounds after 23 professional fights is pretty telling, and for answers, the search need not go any further than the list of opponents he has faced to date. The limited number of rounds would suggest to some that he indeed has rarely been tested to the magnitude that would rate his tenure as a champion. At the same stage, Floyd Mayweather jr. had already faced the likes of Angel Manfredy and Genaro Hernandez - one of the best divisional up and coming raves at the time (Manfredy), and a well seasoned champion (Hernandez). Other questions/criticisms of Berto include a not-thoroughly-tested chin which has already yielded a knockdown to a fighter not known as a power puncher, and a defense that doesn't always protect that chin too well. With so much competition in the welterweight division, all of these skepticism's openly ponder out loud, "how worthy is such a young and untested fighter in the company of the Mosley's, Margarito's, Clottey's, and Cotto's of the world"? He has undoubtedly shown promise, but that promise comes with non-validating circumstances that technically make it no more than an unfulfilled request. Despite all the not-so-positive things that can be tossed into Berto's list of criticism, at the end of the day, it's important to look at things from a more balanced perspective, which is where the neutral spin comes into play....

Andre Berto - (Neutral Perspective): When it all boils down, like all other things in life, Berto is neither as good, or as bad as many around him project. Granted, he has shown defensive deficiencies, and he has touched the deck (Rivera fight), be the evolving talent you see in him has to outweigh them all when looking at the big picture. Miguel Cotto is a great example. Before facing a fighter whose strengths greatly outweighed his every weakness, his evolving talent was on display as he traveled a very similar path as we see in Berto today. He was also once viewed as being 'sheltered', but in a gradual progression we saw him go from defeating the Lovemore N'Dou's of the world, to the Zab Judah's, to eventually the Shane Mosley's. There's no reason to believe that Berto cannot take lessons learned from each fight and work his way up the chart of greatness as well. The only issue that separates the two, and this is potentially the biggest issue for Berto, is the fact that he now owns a strap in a division that leaves no room for the less adept. His learning curve is a bit steep, and in a crowded division that's known to be a bit wild and rambunctious, he'll learn the old adage quickly which states "if you're not living life on the edge you're taking up too much space"! None of us know where the evolutionary ladder will stop for Berto, but one thing for sure, if he can't get beyond the talented Luis Collazo, he surely won't be prepared to scale the rugged terrain of 'Mount Margarito'. For now, he stands at the brink of the elite level, but is that good enough to get him to the promised land? Come Saturday night we'll be one step closer to finding out.

(Got questions or feedback? Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com and 954-292-7346, follow more of his work at 8CountNews and the Examiner, or show some love at Myspace).

Article posted on 16.01.2009



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