By Keith Idec
Andre Berto isn’t bothered by the skeptics’ perception of him.
The former WBC welterweight champion thinks fans and media began dismissing him six years ago, when he suffered his first defeat. It has been an uphill struggle for respect, according to Berto, since Victor Ortiz dropped him twice and overcame two knockdowns to win a unanimous decision and took Berto’s welterweight title in April 2011.
Berto (31-4, 24 KOs) has gone just 4-3 since Ortiz defeated him, including a technical knockout loss to underdog Jesus Soto Karass in July 2013. The Winter Haven, Florida, native also tested positive for a steroid during that six-year stretch, in addition to suffering serious shoulder and biceps injuries that required surgeries and long layoffs.
After overcoming all those setbacks, the 33-year-old Berto isn’t fazed by his role as an underdog against former IBF champion Shawn Porter in their 12-round welterweight fight April 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (Showtime).
“From my first loss, moving forward I’ve been written off,” Berto said. “That’s just the way the fight game is. From my first loss on, it’s been speculation, it’s been this, it’s been that. And like I said, I’ve been through my hard times. And everything that I’ve been through in this fight game has been in front of that TV screen. And that’s what they need to understand – everything. I got a chance to fight on one of the biggest networks around at, I don’t know, probably 11th, 12th fight, with Lou DiBella and HBO. Everything I’ve done has been in the eyes of the public – my rise, my fall, going through my defeats, and me coming back from shoulder surgery, and me coming back trying to continue to make a statement and let people know I’m still here. You know what I’m saying?
“I love it because I love that roller-coaster ride. I’ve never seen my career, coming into this game, as being perfect. Never. Never. I always wanted to feel everything that this game had to offer. Just like Muhammad Ali said a long time ago, he was able to feel everything this game had to offer. He got knocked down, he got stopped, he won titles, he was the best alive, you know, he got to experience it all. And at the end of the day, what I’ve done, I’ll be able to read my story and see that I’ve definitely felt and experienced everything that this game had to offer.”
If Berto beats Porter, he’ll earn a chance to win back the WBC 147-pound championship he lost to Ortiz, who Berto knocked out in the fourth round of their rematch last April 30 in Carson, California. The Berto-Porter winner will become the WBC’s mandatory challenger for champion Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC).
That opportunity has provided plenty of motivation for Berto, as has the knowledge that Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) is listed as a 5-1 favorite.
“That’s tremendous motivation,” Berto said. “Just me coming back from everything that I’ve come back from, from that point on, coming back from the shoulder surgery and just moving forward, everybody, I believe they’ve been able to see a whole different type of determination and motivation in me. And they’ve been seeing that in these fights as well, so it’s not gonna stop. It’s not gonna stop. … Everybody right now, at this point, is looking like they’re in the way right now from what I want. That’s it. That’s it. That’s the only thing that matters to me.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.