Andre Berto: Young Lion On Deck
Its an exciting time in the welterweight division for boxing fans.
With the return of former boxing pound for pound #1 Floyd Mayweather,
the weight class adds his name to a list of big names which includes
Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, and Manny Pacquiao. The one name you dont
hear as often is undefeated young gun Andre Berto, who defends his WBC
portion of the welterweight title this coming Saturday (May 30) on HBO
(9:45 ET) against hard-punching Juan Urango. At 25, Berto finds himself
not mentioned among the proposed super fights of division, as the
established vets look to cash out through careful matchmaking.
But time is on Andre Bertos side. And less than four years into his
career, the Haitian star is reaching a level where even the older
superstars wont be able to ignore him much longer.
AllHipHop.com: First champ, thanks for making time while in training
camp for the May 30 fight.
Andre Berto: Oh no problem man I appreciate it.
AllHipHop.com: This is your third defense of the WBC title. How has your
training been going?
Berto: Training camp is going real well. Ive been trying a lot of new
things in this camp I havent done before. I brought some other
members to the team. This is probably the best training Ive ever had.
Its been hard and intense. Im definitely in good shape.
AllHipHop.com: Juan Urangos a pretty dangerous puncher, at least at
140 pounds. Well see as hes moving up in weight now for this
fight. And you know some of your critics have been questioning your chin
because of the one knockdown last year. When youve been reviewing the
tape of Urango, what have you been focusing on to nullify his punching
Berto: Like you said, hes a really strong puncher at 140. Were
gonna see whether hes going to bring that up with him to 147. Were
working on a lot of different things. His best punch is the right hook.
We worked on going away from that, moving when we have to. But at the
same time, Im a big puncher too at 147. I dont feel that hes
ever fought another big puncher. Im just as strong as he is. So Im
going to test out his chin also.
AllHipHop.com: Your January fight with Luis Collazo was a Fight of the
Year candidate. You showed a lot of poise in that bout even though there
were a lot of rough patches. Was there anything new that you learned
about yourself as a fighter going through those tough 12 rounds?
Berto: Yeah, a lot of what I saw is that I have the stamina and the
heart. And that I can keep my composure in rough times. I went into that
fight for the first time in my career not really prepared like everyone
normally sees me, physically and mentally. We had a lot of things going
on through camp. I pretty much came into that fight at a 50% range.
People who really know me could tell. But at the same time it still
showed a lot that I was able to show a lot of poise and heart. I
answered a lot of questions for myself.
AllHipHop.com: Before Shane [Mosley] fought Antonio Margarito, it seemed
like HBO was trying to push him into a fight with you. Do you think
thats going to be difficult now with Mayweather and Pacquiao back in
the mix at 147?
Berto: Its all good, though. Its more competition for us in
general. Im not too much in an extreme rush. Im the youngest guy
in the top group and Im world champion. Eventually everything is
going to come back to me. [The fights] are going to be there for me. I
dont look at it like a fight is being taken away from me. Its more
fights getting prepared for me in the future with a lot of big names.
AllHipHop.com: Youve been self-critical of some of the defensive
lapses youve had in past fights. Where do you see yourself at now as
far as your defensive skills?
Berto: I believe in every fight, people have seen me grow and evolve as
a professional on nationwide TV and HBO. Ive had half of my career
fights rated on a television scale. So people can see the progression
when it comes to the defense, speed, and being poised in there. Im
being more of a professional fighter. In every camp I try to work on a
lot of new things. When you stop learning, youre pretty much stuck.
Im my biggest critic.
AllHipHop.com: On that note, I think a lot of people forget that 4 years
ago you were still an amateur fighter. What has been the biggest
adjustment from moving to a professional?
Berto: I pretty much always had a professional style in the amateurs.
The toughest thing is just to stay composed throughout 12 rounds. You
get used to just going 4 rounds and throwing as many punches as you can
throw and be aggressive. The main thing for a lot of amateurs turning
pro is to take your time and set up a lot of your shots. I believe with
me that has been the toughest thing to get used to. But like you said,
people do forget Im 4 years in. There are a lot of high expectations.
But you got to keep working.
AllHipHop.com: I remember early last year, around January or February,
you had a fight on the table with Zab Judah which he ended up turning
down. Today of course youre now a bigger name. Zab is still where
hes been at the last few years but is still a name opponent. Do you
think that is a fight that youd still be interested in, or do you
feel youre past that point in your career as a champion?
Berto: Zab is always in the position he is because of his name. He can
be put in that spotlight [because] hes a dangerous fighter even
though hes lost a lot of big shows. He seems to fall when under the
big lights. But hes still a dangerous fighter for anybody. It depends
what he continues to do. If he beats some more real fighters it can
definitely be a fight thats possible for us. But we are looking at
AllHipHop.com: What you had Cosme Rivera fight, everyone seemed to focus
on the knockdown. What I focused on was that even though it was your
first knockdown, you didnt seem hurt but more disappointed that you
AllHipHop.com: Was it just a matter of you getting careless because you
controlled the majority of the fight?
Berto: Thats exactly what it was. I was just getting too comfortable
in there, and thinking after a few rounds he couldnt do anything to
hurt me. I walked into a punch I didnt see that shot me back down to
reality. I cant get mad at it. Everybody talked about it, although I
made every other round. I kind of took it to heart but I had to sit back
and realize the scale that Im on, the high expectations everyone has
for me. So I cant be upset about it. This is the plateau that Im
on. So I have to be thought of that way. Every mistake I do is going to
be pinpointed and blown out of proportion. But its either that or
people not caring about your performance at all. It keeps me sharp and
AllHipHop.com: I know youre a big boxing fan as well and try to catch
a lot of the fights. Were you able to catch the Miranda-Ward bout?
Berto: Yeah, I talked to Dre Ward the night of that fight.
AllHipHop.com: What did you think of his performance?
Berto: I think he did well. He came out of the same class as me, 2004.
He showed a lot of poise, versatility, and he showed it against a
dangerous opponent. He got cut in the first round and still had that dog
in him. A lot of the young guys nowadays, once that test comes in a
knockdown or cut, theyre not able to come back from that. I believe
he showed a lot of characteristics of a true champion.
AllHipHop.com: I wanted to get your take on an upcoming big fight from
your division in Joshua Clottey and Miguel Cotto next month. How do you
see that fight turning out?
Berto: Its going to be a tougher fight than a lot of people expect. A
lot of people think Cotto will win and beat him easily, [but] Joshua
Clottey is a tough kid. He has a pretty good defense, and he knows how
to work off his defense. Itll be interesting to see who shows up as
the better man that night.
AllHipHop.com: Of course everyone has been talking about what happened
with Pacquiao and Hatton earlier this month. I do remember when
Margarito beat Cotto last year, you were one of the few people that said
yeah he looked good, but hes still beatable. I wanted to get
your take on Pacquiao because now everyone is looking at him the same
way. Are there any holes you see in his game after observing his last
couple of fights?
Berto: Pacquiao is one of my favorite fighters right now. Hes
tremendously exciting. But it takes a certain type of fighter to get to
him. He has good skills. He has tremendous feet placement and accuracy
with his punches. The guy that gave him the best fight was [Juan Manuel]
Marquez, whos very good fundamentally. A lot guys who think theyre
going to bully Pacquiao are the guys who end up getting knocked out and
seeing the lights after few punches. Its going to take a smart, fast
fighter, and somebody good fundamentally to handle Pacquiao.
AllHipHop.com: Youve fought as much as 7 times in one year. As you
know when you become more elite youre lucky to get in 2 fights a
year. This is your second fight this year on May 30 with Urango. Are you
planning to fit in at least one more fight for 2009?
Berto: Definitely! If everything goes well on the 30th, Ill be right
back towards the end of the year. Ive been hearing rumors that HBO
wants another title bout this year. But we have to pick one fighter at a
time. Well continue to get back in there and have exciting fights.
AllHipHop.com: I heard a rumor that youre a really good spoken word
AllHipHop.com: I was interested in hearing that because a couple decades
ago that was Muhammad Alis thing going into fights. Was that
something you ever thought about incorporating into your press
Berto: Im not really sure. I like spoken word; its pretty much
something I really love and am a fan of. Im a fan of the power of
words and the way poets put together their words. Ive done some
spoken word situations in my off time or in training camp. I usually
keep it to myself or for friends. It would definitely be something
different to incorporate into todays boxing world. Most fighters have
a little niche or something while in training camp to keep them calm and
level headed. Spoken word is definitely one for me.
AllHipHop.com: You have several family members who are professional MMA
fighters. Do you see any attributes that both sports can learn from each
other, at least in the realm of promotion?
Berto: Yeah, my thing with MMA right now is theyre out there with
marketing and promotion. With boxing it has been around for so long. We
have die hard fans. I believe weve eased off of marketing and
promotion unless its a really huge fight like De La Hoya, Mayweather,
or Pacquiao. But all in all, both sports are good. Boxing has a lot of
traditional history, and boxing will always be the #1 combat sport no
matter what other sports come around.
AllHipHop.com: I know youre really good friends with T.I. What other
Hip-Hop artists are you feeling in todays game?
Berto: I like my man Yo Gotti. Definitely my man Tip. Gucci Mane is
definitely doing his thing on the streets. My man young Drake is the new
sensation right now. Ive been listening to a lot of his stuff and
hes going to be a problem. I had a conversation with my man Jay-Z
after my last fight. Ive always been a huge fan of his and he showed
a lot of love and stated he was a big fan of me. Im into a lot of
real artists that really get that love not just from fans but from the
streets. Those are the guys Im really feeling right now.
AllHipHop.com: Mexican and Puerto Rican fighters have strong legacies in
boxing. Ive gotten the impression you really want to establish that
for your native Haiti with building boxing gyms. With the visits
youve made out there, do you feel the country has a lot of national
Berto: Definitely, the first trip out there we got a huge response. Our
hotel had a huge gang of fighters just out there to show us that they
just needed that help to get out there. It was an inspiration that
theyll hopefully be able to follow in my footsteps. Its a huge
untapped market when it comes to everything, not just boxing. In the
next year or two Ill be able to establish something out there. And
when 2012 comes around we can have a real efficient boxing team from
Haiti. Thats the plan.
AllHipHop.com: Thanks for your time champ and best of luck this
Berto: I appreciate it my man, anytime.