By Keith Idec
Devon Alexander and Andre Berto both believe the winner of their fight Saturday night will get a welterweight title shot.
The 12-round, 147-pound bout between the 31-year-old Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) and the 34-year-old Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) isn’t a championship elimination match. But according to these former welterweight champions, it might as well be a title eliminator in Uniondale, New York.
“Me and my coach never shy away from any challenge, any opponent, anybody, my whole career,” Alexander said during a recent conference call. “So this fight can catapult us to a world title shot and that’s my goal. That’s my goal. When I made my comeback, that was my goal, to get a world title and that’s what I’m focusing on.
“I’m hungry. I just turned 31. I’m hungry and I feel refreshed, I feel vibrant, and I just wanna show people that I’m still one of the elite welterweights in the division. I’m still right here. I’m still the same Devon Alexander people saw four or five years ago. So this fight, this win, will, and it should, put me in a title fight soon.”
Kevin Cunningham, Alexander’s trainer and manager, hopes a victory over Berto leads the former IBF welterweight champ toward a shot at WBA 147-pound champ Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC).
St. Louis’ Alexander is 1-0-1 since completing treatment for an opioid addiction that caused a two-year layoff. His last fight resulted in a dubious draw, but Alexander was widely viewed as the winner of his 12-round fight against Victor Ortiz (32-6-3, 25 KOs) on February 17 in El Paso, Texas.
Berto, of Winter Haven, Florida, will end a 15-month layoff Saturday night. The former WBC welterweight champ hasn’t boxed since Shawn Porter stopped him in the ninth round of their April 2017 fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I believe in myself and Devon,” Berto said. “We’re at a place that our names are heavy enough in the game that it could just lead us directly to a title shot. So this is an important fight on both ends. I’ve known Devon for a long time, since the amateurs. I’ve known Kevin since the amateurs, and Devon’s brother [Vaughn], actually.
“So I've got much respect for those guys. I haven't really got too much of the trash talking and crazy sh*t to say, but I know they're gonna come prepared because on this side we're definitely prepared. So I believe it’s just gonna be a tremendous fight.”
The Alexander-Berto bout will headline a FOX telecast from Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The broadcast, scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT, also will include a 10-round super middleweight match that’ll pit former WBO middleweight champ Peter Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) against J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.