By Keith Idec
Andre Berto has been busy the past few days promoting his rematch against Victor Ortiz.
Berto believes, though, that there are even bigger fights for him in 2012. The IBF welterweight champion feels as though high-profile fights against undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao will be the only opportunities he pursues after he avenges his lone loss to Ortiz on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.
“I believe after this fight here, [Mayweather] and Pacquiao are pretty much going to be the only options,” Berto said. “I just went through my whole career fighting all the best. … I believe that’s going to the only route to go after this win. So it’s just set for an exciting fight [against Mayweather or Pacquiao], but all the focus is on Victor Ortiz right now. That’s it. That’s the only thing I’m worried about.”
Mayweather-Berto and Pacquiao-Berto bouts would become options only if Berto beats Ortiz, and Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) and Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) don’t finally fight in 2012.
“The sport wants to see Mayweather fight Pacquiao,” said Lou DiBella, Berto’s promoter. “But if it doesn’t happen — which there’s good reason to think it may not … it hasn’t happened to this point in time — [Berto] presents as exciting a challenge to either one of those guys as anybody else. And frankly, I can tell you right now there’s no way in the world he’d have a bad fight with Floyd Mayweather, or a bad fight with Manny Pacquiao, or a bad fight with Amir Khan, who he’ll knock out. There’s no way in the world that he won’t have exciting fights with those guys.”
Berto (28-1, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Fla., and Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., knocked each other down twice during one of the most exciting fights of 2011. Ortiz survived those two knockdowns April 16 in Mashantucket, Conn., to win a unanimous decision and take Berto’s WBC welterweight title.
“[The Ortiz rematch] is an opportunity for him,” DiBella said, “in a matchup that can only be an exciting fight, with tremendous promotion behind it, including network TV promotion of premium cable programming. This is a great opportunity for him to assert himself as a challenge to Pacquiao, to Mayweather. And also, if he doesn’t get those two guys, to build to a big matchup against a guy like Khan.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.