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Berto vs. Rodriguez For WBC Welterweight Title On June 21st

Andre BertoBy Scott Gilfoid: Undefeated welterweight contender Andre Berto (21-0, 18 KOs) will meet up with the virtually unknown Miguel Angel Rodriguez (29-2, 23 KOs) for the vacant WBC welterweight title on June 21st, at the FedEx Forum, in Memphis, Tennessee. The title suddenly opened up last week with the unexpected retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Berto, the number #1 ranked contender in the WBC welterweight division, had been hoping to land a fight with Mayweather to challenge for the title. However, with the retirement of Mayweather, this opened up the title for Berto and Rodriguez, the number #2 ranked contender in the WBC, to meet face to face to determine the new WBC welterweight champion.

Berto, 24, an unsuccessful representative for Haiti at the 2004 Olympics, has been impressive for the most part since turning professional, beating a slew of mostly C-level fighters. He has a lot of power, speed and good boxing skills. His chin, however, appears to be his weak point, as he’s been stunned, and even knocked down, in fights against B grade fighters. He had a tough time beating both Cosme Rivera and David Estrada, two of the best wins on his record, and took a lot of punishment from each of them.

Berto’s offense, it seems, works as his defense as he tends to throw a lot of punches each round. In the process, he leaves himself open quite often and has taken more punishment than I would like to see for a fighter as hyped as he is. Mayweather’s recent retirement was a stroke of luck for Berto, because without that happening, his chances of winning – if he could ever get a fight with Mayweather, that is – a fight against Mayweather would be slim and none. Berto has a lot of talent, I give him that, but he’s not in the class of Mayweather and would take a major pounding if they were to ever fight. The same holds true for other top welterweights, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto and Paul Williams -there all a class above Berto and would probably beat him senseless if they were to be pitted against him.

Rodriguez, 29, has had a totally indistinguishable career up to this point, having faced only one top tier opponent, Carlos Baldomir, who promptly defeated him by a unanimous decision, albeit a close one.

Other than that, Rodriguez has faced exclusively 3rd tier opposition his entire career with no other notable names in his career. It’s somewhat astonishing that based on the wins on his record, all wins over mediocre opponents, Rodriguez could get such a high ranking in the division. Even against the soft opposition that he’s faced, Rodriguez was still beaten more than once, losing to another lower class opponent, Luis Vazquez, in November 1999.

You can possibly excuse the loss given the low time it’s been since that fight, I suppose, but Rodriguez hasn’t exactly been burning up the welterweight division since that time by beating anyone that’s recognizable. The loss against Baldomir in 2005, however, is really telling, indicating how good – in this case, how not good – Rodriguez is as a fighter.

Berto probably won’t have much problems beating Rodriguez, who by his own record shouldn’t even be ranked at all in the top 20. I see this fight ending quickly, probably by the 3rd or 4th rounds, if Rodriguez is lucky enough to last that long. Hopefully, the WBC will use this as lesson to evaluate their fighters a little better in the future, make them fight other top fighters, before pushing them up the rankings to a spot as high as where Rodriguez (#2) is currently perched.

The good news for Berto, besides Mayweather’s retirement, is that the WBC division has few real talented welterweights for which he has to worry about. There’s Luis Collazo, but that’s about it, meaning that Berto likely will be able to hold onto the title for a long time without having to worry about facing any real talented fighters. That’s also a bad thing, however, because unless he’s interested in unifying the titles, he’s going to be facing one unknown fighter after another and it’s doubtful that the networks like HBO and Showtime will want to show his fights unless he’s facing fighters that will be competitive with him. He’s probably better off not trying to unify the titles, though, because Berto would most definitely lose and lose badly, to fighters like Cotto, Margarito or Williams.

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