Saturday night’s HBO Boxing After Dark welterweight main event between Andre Berto and IBF champion Jan Zaveck at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Ms. represents many things, including a coming-party for Zaveck in America and a chance to win another belt for Berto.
The one thing it doesn’t represent, according to Berto (27-1, 20 KOs), is a comeback. Six months ago Berto was riding high. He was undefeated and listed the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao as possible future opponents. Those hopes were put on hold last April after a setback at the hands of Victor Ortiz.
But Berto only considers the loss a small blip on the radar.
“Almost every great fighter has losses on their record and they came back even stronger. I’m not trying to prove anything to the critics,” he said. “My family and the real Berto fans out there have shown me tremendous support and love and they know what kind of fighter I am.”
A win puts Berto right back in the mix for a big-money bout, but Zaveck (31-1, 18 KOs) won’t be an easy out. It’ll be the first fight in America for Zaveck, who has won his last six fights. His latest was a fifth-round knockout of Paul Delgado.
Berto’s feelings about his status notwithstanding, it’s imperative he puts on a good showing. A loss would further obscure him and keep people believing that he was nothing more than a paper tiger.
A solid win would keep his name at the forefront. Even if he can’t get a shot at Mayweather or Pacquiao, there is always a possible rematch with Ortiz or even a chance at someone like Tim Bradley.
Before any of that happens, Berto needs to take care of business on Saturday night.