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Berto Wins, But Is His Future Limited?

berto3546335By Chris Williams: On Saturday night, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto fought a war against challenger Luis Collazo, grinding out a 12-unanimous decision in a fight that is already be considered as a candidate for a fight of the year. For Berto, it was his 2nd title defense of his WBC belt and easily the toughest opponent of his five year career.

Unlike some of his other fights, Berto had to battle hard until the end to scrape out a decision win by the narrow scores of 116-111, 114-113 and 114-113. Berto struggled early, getting hurt in the 1st round after getting tagged with a big left hand from Collazo.

As the fight progressed, Berto’s power and speed took over the fight as he took control of the bout and punished Collazo with hard blows. Berto showed his inexperience by allowing Collazo to fight him in close range, which seemed to favor Collazo more so than Berto. However, Berto made adjustments after the 5th round and stayed on the outside and used his speed to beat back Collazo’s attacks.

Berto would later go back to fighting Collazo on the inside in the 9th and 10th, giving up the rounds with his bad decision making. But with the fight on the line, Berto came back well in the 11th and 12th, fighting hard and landing well with power shots until the final bell. It was a courageous effort by the young champion and showed what he’s made of.

Still undefeated, Berto remains the only champion without a defeat on his record. However, in spite of getting the win, Berto may not last long as a champion. Berto, as exciting as he is, seems to take too much punishment in his fights against his toughest opponents of his career. Collazo may have been Berto’s best opponent to date, but there’s many other fighters out there that are just as good, if not better than Collazo and it makes one wonder whether Berto has what it takes to beat them.

For sure, his offense is better than most other welterweights except for, perhaps, Antonio Margarito, Paul Williams and Miguel Cotto, but his defense is clearly lacking. To put it another way, if Berto continues to take punishment like this in his fights, I don’t see him staying a champion for much longer.

He might be good enough to beat Collazo in a rematch, but if Berto wants to beat the better fighters in the division like Joshua Clottey, Cotto, Williams, Margarito or his top challengers, he’s going to need to improve quickly. At best, I think he’d give Cotto, Williams and Margarito problems for six rounds or so, but after that I can see them taking him apart and knocking him out.

Berto clearly needs a lot more work if he’s to avoid being a champion that doesn’t last. There’s been talk of him fighting unification bouts with the other welterweight champions. I think that’s a bad idea, because Berto doesn’t appear ready to fight the top welterweights yet. He would be better served to continue defending his title against fighters like Collazo, Jesus Soto Karass, Carlos Baldomir and Zab Judah. If Berto sticks to these kinds of fighters in the next year or two, I think it would give him time to improve enough to fight better opponents without taking a severe beating and losing his title.

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