A Preview of Berto vs. Zaveck
By John Gabriel Thompson: On Saturday, September 3rd, 2011, for the first time in his professional career Andre Berto (27-1, 21 KO’s) will enter the ring without a perfect record, having lost that distinction and his World Boxing Council (WBC) Welterweight Title in a match with “Vicious” Victor Ortiz back in April, in one of the most exciting bouts of the year. Berto had been knocked down in just the first round, only to put Ortiz down in round two and both fighters knocked each other down again in the sixth.
Article posted on 03.09.2011
Ortiz came away with a clear cut twelve round unanimous decision and has earned himself a big money fight against one of the two biggest names in the sport – Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. This is the fight Berto might have gotten had things gone differently for him in April, and Saturday night at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi Berto will take his first step towards putting himself back in the picture for a title and a big name fight.
His opponent and current IBF Welterweight Champion, Jan Zaveck (31-1, 18 KO’s) will also take a giant step on Saturday, with his first opportunity to show off his abilities in front of his largest television audience to date on HBO Boxing. Originally from Slovenia and now living and fighting out of Germany, Zaveck has fought almost exclusively in Slovenia and Germany. This will be his first pro bout in the United States.
As indicated by his resume and lack of big names therein, Zaveck does not seem to be a power puncher (18 stoppages in 32 bouts). That being said, Zaveck has stopped four of his last five opponents, including Paul Delgado and the man Zaveck won the IBF belt from, Isaac Hlatshwayo. Hlatshwayo is easily the most recognizable name to American boxing fans with his wins over Nate Campbell and Delvin Rodriguez. Hlatshwayo had never been stopped prior to his bout with Zaveck.
As stated, Zaveck has never fought for an American audience before, but Youtube.com contains several of his fights including his sole loss, a close split decision to Rafal Jackiewicz. In that bout Zaveck was slightly outworked by Jackiewicz, who threw more punches and moved well. Jackiewicz also chose when and where to exchange, doing a good job of being the first to get off with his punches. Zaveck fights behind a fairly traditional guard, with both hands up until he throws. But once he throws, he leaves himself wide open, and appears somewhat slow to get his hands back up. Also, he shows little head movement.
Berto has all of the tools to recreate Jackiewicz’s performance and then some. A decorated amateur with over two hundred bouts and two National Golden Gloves Championships (at welterweight and light middleweight), Berto also represented Haiti in the 2004 Olympics after having failed to qualify for the US team (his parents were born in Haiti, though Berto was born in Florida). Berto is a fluid boxer/puncher. In his bout prior to Ortiz, he took out Freddy Hernandez in the first round. When matched up against the durable Juan Urango, Berto stuck and moved, earning a twelve round unanimous decision. But despite his physical prowess, Berto has been down before – against Ortiz and also against Cosme Rivera back in 2007.
If Berto’s confidence is in anyway shaken, following his first professional defeat, Zaveck does have the prerequisite tools to keep his belt. He throws solid punches, has a decent work rate, and lets his hands go when his opponent’s back is to the ropes. Zaveck is a pressure fighter, and though not on par with Ortiz in that respect, he should make a fight out of it. Also, should Berto choose to exchange, Zaveck is the type of fighter who will respond in kind. Zaveck is not overly accurate when punching a moving target and is most dangerous when his opponent is standing right in front of him. So Berto would do well to stick and move, rather than exchange as he did with Ortiz, or he could get caught with Zaveck’s favorite weapon – the overhand right.
Berto is the younger man at 27 (Zaveck is 35), and will enjoy a slight size advantage. He appears to be the faster boxer, the stronger puncher, and has a clear edge in terms of championship experience. If I had to guess as to the outcome, I would imagine that Berto will probably catch Zaveck with a big counterpunch to the head at some point in the early to middle rounds. I’ve never seen Zaveck’s chin tested, so I can’t say that Berto will stop him, but I see him doing damage and should it go the distance, Berto winning the fight by a safe margin.
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