Boxing


Berto/Collazo: Keys to victory, 4 to explore, predictions

By Vivek Wallace: This evening fight fans around the globe will be treated to a rare occasion in the sport where two fighters with amazing potential will put it all on the line in an effort to see which of the two truly belong amongst the sports elite. Both men stand at the doorstep of greatness, but lack career defining moments to solidify their position. With a future that hangs in the balance and a legacy that remains unfulfilled, tonight in Biloxi, Mississippi they have a chance to do something grand, and for once, remove all questions while dispelling all doubts. As we prepare for this battle between two of the divisions most talented up and comer's, we take a glimpse at a few keys to victory, four key things to look for in the fight, and in the end, a final prediction..

Andre Berto/Keys To Victory: For Andre Berto, this fight will test him in ways that have yet to be seen. Steve Forbes was a great defensive tactician, but in many ways it's safe to say Collazo's overall ability stands apart from his. The key for Berto from a defensive standpoint will be to keep his hands up and not be caught flat-footed by the sneaky southpaw with something flush. Collazo is an expert at landing shots that an opponent won't see coming and as we all know, it's the punch you don't see that hurts the most. Berto has a tendency to drop his hands at times and against Cosme Rivera it cost him, as he saw the deck for the first time in his career. It's safe to say that Collazo is one of the best offensive fighters Berto will have ever faced, so Berto's defense will need to be at center stage. The good thing for Berto is that his offense at times serves as his defense, because when an opponent has to worry about those vicious combinations and power shots coming, they tend to stay on the defensive rather than throwing their own shots. This will also be a key for the young Berto. He will need to stay very busy on offense, and stay very close, at times even smothering the crafty Collazo. Most would agree that Collazo is a brilliant boxer, so Berto will have to take him out of his comfort zone and not give him the opportunity to setup shots and pick him apart. Berto is the bigger figure of the two, so he'll need to use his size and strength advantage to do something we haven't seen of him, which is bully the smaller guy, and use his power to earn respect early. If Berto can follow this blueprint and keep Collazo uncomfortable, the victory over a highly skilled fighter in his prime that he needs to continue his evolution will be his without a doubt.

Luis Collazo/Keys To Victory: For Luis Collazo, this fight will all come down to his ability to create space and keep a safe distance. Berto is the quicker of the two and will undoubtedly try to use strength to threaten the smaller Collazo, so the only way to take that strength is to turn it into a weakness by not giving him that chance. At a safe distance, Collazo has the wits to pick Berto apart with well-timed shots and deceptive power. Many don't view Collazo as a power puncher and compared to the Margarito's and Cotto's of the division, he's not, but when he loads up, he has more than enough power to land something dangerous if the opponent doesn't see it coming and is unprepared. There are many avenues Collazo can exploit to earn a victory but it all comes down to his ability to make Berto miss and make him pay. Distance and creating space will be his lifeline because if Berto is in range, despite Collazo's great chin, Berto will hurt him. Collazo's best chance to win is by picking his spots to land his shots, and using his masterful footwork to take away the ring angles Berto will try to use to get to him. The other thing that will be pivotal for Collazo is the use of his great experience. Berto is a very skilled fighter, but a skilled fighter that's still a bit raw is a great difference from a skilled fighter who has been in the trenches with some of the best in the sports. There are three things in the recent past that will give Collazo a huge mental edge coming into this fight. He faced Ricky Hatton in a fight where he proved he can fight against a smothering style; he faced Shane Mosley where he proved he can handle a very fast fighter with great intelligence in the ring, and leading up to the Paul Williams/Carlos Quintana rematch, he was the main sparring partner for Paul Williams, and we all know how quickly he destroyed Quintana in that fight. So Collazo undoubtedly brings a ton of experience and his application of it in the ring may be the difference in the fight.

FOUR TO EXPLORE

'Baby Boomer': One key thing to look out for in this fight will be the use of power by the young Andre Berto from the first bell. If Berto can land a few of those patented uppercuts and hooks early, there's no question in my mind that he will earn respect and control the fight.

'Southpaw Jinx': The eventual outcome of this fight may very well come down to how well Berto handles a crafty southpaw. Some fighters have no problems with them, for others, it becomes a career long nemesis. How will Berto fare?

'X-Factor': In the sport of Boxing, the "X" in the word X-factor typically stands for experience. Collazo has been in the ring for nearly 9 years, while Berto just recently hit his 4 year mark. Collazo has fought 10 or more rounds on five occasions, while Berto has only seen the championship rounds three times. With no KO's expected, seeing how both men handle this stage will be pivotal.

'Pulse-Factor': Although no knockouts are expected, when you pair a gritty fighter like Collazo with a determined youngster like Berto, it will all come down to heart. Who wants it more, who refuses to lose, and who will never say die! Both of these men have a pulse, but which will flatline first?

FIGHT PREDICTION

I think that when you consider the fact that both men are viewing this fight as a vehicle to take them to the 'promised land', there's no way it could be anything less than stellar in the end. Berto knows that he's considered the weakest link amongst today's welterweight champs and Collazo knows that he's one big victory away from acceptance among the same group, so I expect both men to put it all on the line and let it all hang out because there's something to prove. These are two very dominant wills involved, so I also expect both men to take the lead in a fight full of ebbs and flows. At some point, I expect the man that Shane Mosley once referred to as "one of the craftiest fighters I've ever faced" (Collazo) to surprise the young Berto with something he didn't expect. If he did it to Shane, he'll definitely do it to Berto. But when the smoke finally clears, I think the one thing that may help Berto the most is the fact that Collazo won't KO him. I will never underestimate the ability of Collazo, and view him as a fighter who can pull off anything when he comes motivated, but all things remaining equal, I think the speed, power, hunger of Berto will be enough to earn him a points victory, albeit maybe a very small one.

ANDRE BERTO - MAJORITY DECISION

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

Article posted on 16.01.2009



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