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Is Berto Good Enough To Beat The Top Welterweights?

Andre BertoBy Sean McDaniel: In watching newly crowned WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto (22-0, 19 KOs) defeat Miguel Angel Rodriguez (29-3, 23 KOs) by a 7th round TKO last Saturday night, a fight in which Berto struggled at times, I couldn’t help but wonder how Berto, 24, would do against the other top welterweights in the division like Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Kermit Cintron, Paul Williams, Carlos Quintana and Shane Mosley. I think Berto showed some good skills late in the fight against Rodriguez, especially in terms of speed and boxing skills, but he also – like in many of his fights – seemed vulnerable to right hands, which he seemed to get hit with far too many of by the limited Rodriguez.

What seemed to worry, besides Berto’s limited reach and height, was how average he looked against Rodriguez. This was a fighter that someone like Cotto, Margarito or Williams would have taken to school, beating him like a child all around the ring, never giving him a chance to get into the fight and very likely stopping him within a few brutally one-sided rounds. However, in Berto’s case, he was forced to fight hard against Rodriguez, and absorbed more than a few big right hands and left hooks from him. More importantly, Berto had big problems with Rodriguez’s bigger reach advantage which enabled him to land effectively from the outside.

That, I feel, is going to be a problem for Berto some time down the line when he gets it into his head that he wants to fight a unification bout with either Williams, the WBO welterweight champion, or possibly Margarito, who may or may not be a champion (he has a fight next month with Cotto for his WBA title). At this point, I don’t see Berto having the boxing skills, power or ability to beat Cotto, Margarito or Williams. Don’t get me wrong, I see him as being good enough to cause them problems in the early going of a fight, that is if Berto is fighting hard and not afraid like he was against Rodriguez last Saturday, but after the first half of the fight (if he lasts that long), I see Berto getting pounded and taken out very quickly by those fighters.

He’s good, better than most welterweights, but he clearly isn’t in the class of those fighters, and I doubt that will change anytime soon. As for Mosely, Cintron and Quintana, I think Berto is possibly good enough to beat them, especially in the case of Cintron. He seems the most vulnerable of the bunch, and depending on whether or not be can land a big right hand in the opening rounds, Berto would probably take him out much like Margarito did in their recent fight. Quintana and Mosley, though, would be very tough fights for Berto, and I’m not so certain that Berto has enough skills to beat either of them.

I’d have to say that Mosely would beat him, even though Mosley is somewhat faded compared to his earlier years. Mosely has just as good speed as Berto to utilize. With his speed advantage neutralized, I can see Berto being a really average fighter, not having the same boxing ability as Mosley to fall back on in a pinch when things get rough for him. Eventually, I think Berto would crumble mentally, fall apart under the pressure of having to fight for 12 competitive rounds rather than his usual blowouts against soft competition.

I’m not sure how much better Berto can get at this point in his career, because he’s limited by height and reach, and appears to live and die by his speed. Once his speed begins to go in his late 20s, to early 30s, he may find himself a sitting duck against other fighters in the division. However, I think he can manage until then, but he’s going to have to steer a career course through the division and make sure he avoids the top welterweights like Margarito, Williams, Mosely and Cotto, because I don’t think he can hang with them for long without getting knocked out.

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