By Keith Idec
Andre Berto respects Devon Alexander for overcoming an opioid addiction and resuming his boxing career.
Berto also feels Alexander defeated Victor Ortiz, despite the dubious draw with which Alexander was forced to settle February 17 in El Paso, Texas. But Berto is certain that Alexander hasn’t faced anyone as dangerous as him since the former IBF welterweight champ came back late last year.
Alexander ended his two-year layoff by beating Nicaragua’s Walter Castillo (26-5-1, 19 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 10-rounder November 21 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The St. Louis native also appeared to out-box Ortiz in his subsequent bout three months later.
Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) hasn’t fought in 15 months, but he knocked out Ortiz in the fourth round of their rematch in April 2016 in Carson, California. Even at 34, the onetime WBC welterweight champ is confident he can beat Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) on Saturday night and make one last run toward winning a 147-pound championship.
“I’m gonna push Devon,” Berto said Thursday during a press conference in Uniondale, New York. “I don’t think he’s fought anyone that brings what I do since he came back from his layoff. We’re gonna see if he’s back. If he’s not ready, then I’m gonna make it a long night for him.”
Shawn Porter stopped Berto in the ninth round of Berto’s last fight, which took place in April 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The 31-year-old Alexander also has lost to Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs), but their fight for Alexander’s IBF welterweight title went the distance in December 2013 at Barclays Center.
“We had a tremendous training camp for this fight,” Berto said. “I took time to rejuvenate myself and I’ve come back and gotten myself into great shape. I appreciate what Devon Alexander has been through, but he’s dealing with a different animal on Saturday night.
“I’ve pushed hard to give myself the best chance to win on Saturday. We’ve prepared for everything that we think Devon can bring. I’m physically and mentally prepare for a battle.
The 12-round bout between Alexander and Berto will be the main event of FOX’s telecast Saturday night from Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT). Former WBO middleweight champ Peter Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs), of Grand Rapids, Michigan, also will square off against Detroit’s J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round super middleweight match.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.