By Ryan Maquiñana
Former two-time welterweight titleholder Andre Berto has been spotted in Hayward, Calif., and his presence begs the question if he has officially joined the parade of fighters training with rising cornerman Virgil Hunter.
The 29-year-old Berto (28-2, 22 KOs) parted ways with longtime coach Tony Morgan following his points loss to Robert Guerrero last November, and had been rumored to be seeking the services of Hunter, who was the Boxing Writers Association of America's 2012 Trainer of the Year for his exceptional work with super middleweight world champion Andre Ward.
“Tony and I had a great ride together from the amateurs to two professional world championships, and he will always be a very important person in my life,” Berto said last month. “He taught me a lot and I am grateful to him for that, but this is a decision I had to make at this point in my career.”
Two years ago, Berto held camp in the Bay Area to prepare for his fight with Jan Zaveck, enlisting the services of nutritionist Victor Conte. Berto would go on to stop Zaveck on cuts in the fifth round, but stopped working with Conte after the win and moved his camp to Southern California. If Berto joins Hunter’s stable, one wonders if he will rekindle the relationship with Conte, with whom he reportedly left on good terms.
Berto is pictured with former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan (27-3, 19 KOs) and lightweight prospect Stan Martyniouk (12-1, 2 KOs), who posted the photo on social media. Martyniouk, junior welterweight contender Karim Mayfield (17-0-1, 10 KOs), and Italian junior middleweight contender Emanuele Della Rosa (31-1, 8 KOs) were among Khan's sparring partners last week as the British star continues to prepare for his April 27 clash with Julio Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KOs).
Della Rosa, a newcomer to the Bay Area, is slated to fight Erislandy Lara (17-1-2, 11 KOs) in a final eliminator for a WBC 154-pound title shot after Vanes Martirosyan passed up the opportunity. The 33-year-old native of Rome has only fought once outside of Italy, with his lone loss coming by split decision to Sebastian Zbik for the WBC interim middleweight belt.
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.