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Video: Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter preview and analysis

Image: Video: Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter preview and analysis

By Harry Rowland: Welterweights Andre Berto 31-4 (24) and Shawn Porter 26-2-1 (16) collide this Saturday 22nd April at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, New York, over the full 12 round championship distance, although there is no title on the line.

This is an intriguing match up mainly due to the questions surrounding Berto’s ability to win fights at the highest level. After winning the vacant WBC Welterweight title against Steve Forbes in 2008 and making five successful defences against solid opposition, by 2011 fans were calling for a sterner test for the then unbeaten champion.

This was to come in the form of battle tested veteran Shane Mosley, but due to a natural disaster in Berto’s native Haiti, the fight was scrapped. A new date and opponent was set in Victor Ortiz, a young and talented fighter but heavily criticized for having openly quit in a tough fight against Marcos Maidana.

Ortiz was an unknown and one had the sense that on his night he could live up to his promise and produce the performance of a lifetime. Unfortunately for Berto this was the night and Ortiz took a unanimous decision in an absolute barn burner where both fighters tasted the canvas multiple times from the opening bell.

Berto, who fights out of Florida USA, bounced straight back beating Jan Zaveck for the IBF title in his next fight, but despite out-strengthens and stopping his man he appeared easy to hit, as he did in his previous outing.

From here Berto’s career took a downward turn. He lost the opportunity of a big money showdown against division leader Floyd Mayweather, after letting Robert Guerrero bully him to defeat in an official eliminator for the WBC title. Berto seemed to be too stubborn to use his boxing ability to stop Guerrero from man handling him to the ropes, where he landed uppercuts at will on the inside. Both Berto’s eyes were nearly swollen shut.

Next came another beating at the hands of tough journeyman Jesus Soto Karass, after suffering a shoulder injury and carrying on far too long, he was knocked out in the twelfth and final round. But since then Berto has managed to get himself back into the title picture, compiling a couple of wins, and fighting a respectable but losing effort, when hand selected by Mayweather for his farewell fight. Most recently he has avenged his loss to Ortiz with a devastating fourth round knockout.

Having suffered a string of defeats himself since their first encounter, Ortiz was very much considered a shot fighter when the rematch occurred last year. Also considering in retrospect Berto’s best win to date probably came against Luis Collazo back in 2009, there are still lingering questions as to his stature in the Welterweight division.

Ohio native Porter on the other hand has always impressed. His best wins were in convincing fashion against tried and tested veterans Devon Alexander, Paul Malignaggi and Adrien Broner. He rose to prominence quickly with his only setback, a since avenged draw to Julio Diaz. His two losses can be forgiven as he gave both victors Kell Brook and Keith Thurman a torrid nights work. These two fighters are also still considered the cream of the Welterweight division.

Both contestants match up fairly equally in terms of size, power and speed. Berto has had a handful more fights, but the only real difference between the two is Berto’s extra 4 years professional experience, having turned over in 2004, and at 33 he is 4 years older. Usually experience counts for a fighter but Berto has suffered a lot of beatings over the years, and Porter already has all the experience he needs at the highest level. The miles on the clock are the crucial difference between these two athletes.

Porters style is extremely aggressive, relentlessly coming forward using a high-energy, dynamic crouching approach with plenty of head movement. Berto will need to stand his ground using a hard jab, tying him up on the inside, much as Brook was able to do. If he fights fire with fire and slugs with Porter as Thurman opted to, I see him coming off worse.

Berto’s strengths are his strength, and shot variety. Although Porter brings a lot of physical strength, Berto has the tools to match it, but he has to know when to tie up and move away, to avoid a similar situation he suffered against Guerrero.

Unless Berto has gotten wiser than he has shown in previous fights, I can’t see him having the ring generalship to keep Porter at bay. We haven’t seen enough evidence in his recent fights to suggest he is an improved fighter. For this reason I see Porter wearing his man down, and taking a unanimous decision on the cards.

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