NEW YORK - While most fight fans at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall and those viewing live on HBO World Championship Boxing on September 29th are anticipating the World Middleweight Championship bout between champion Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor and #1 challenger Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik, they will also be treated to a co-main event featuring two of the welterweight division's elite in a crossroads battle. Fast rising Andre Berto will square off against fellow Floridian David Estrada in a 12-round bout for the vacant NABF welterweight title as well as a stronger foothold in the sports most exciting division.
Berto, nearly a three year pro, made a name for himself as an amateur while attempting to make the 2004 U.S. Olympic boxing team. He was disqualified during a preliminary trials bout, and suddenly his Olympic dream was gone. Through a twist of fate, he suddenly found himself invited to be the first ever member of the Haitian boxing team, a country of which he holds dual citizenship due to his parents birthright. Though his Olympic dream was briefly realized, (he lost a razor-thin decision in his first bout), he joined professional a few months later with a three round knock out, and hasn't looked back since. Berto is now 19-0 with 16 KOs and of his three bouts that have gone the distance, he has only lost four of a possible fifty four judged rounds- relying on constant pressure to either knock his opponent out, or win the round overwhelmingly.
Though both fighters frequent Miami area gyms, neither has had much contact with each other over the years- the closest contact being when Berto appeared on the undercard of Estrada's biggest win which was a (TKO-11) over Chris Smith. Berto acknowledges that Estrada will be his toughest test to date.
“He's definitely a step up in class. He's been in with world class competition so he's gonna be a real good test for me," said Berto. Although Berto boasts a 84% knockout ratio, the scheduled 12-round distance doesn't phase him in the least. “I'm definitely ready to go the distance if necessary. We're putting in a lot of hard work in the gym and I'm looking forward to it.”
For Miami's Estrada, the fight with Berto can reignite his career in a big way. The 21-3, 12 KOs, former USBA welterweight champ is riding a three fight KO win streak after dropping two straight to pound-for-pound elite “Sugar” Shane Mosley (L10) and current IBF king Kermit Cintron (TKOby10). Exactly one month after facing Berto, Estrada will have been a pro for eight years and is well aware that he is regarded as a stepping-stone in this match - a view he doesn't quite share. “His camp might think so, but he knows he's in for a war and the fight of his life," said Estrada.
Estrada knows that Berto can be hurt, as evidenced by his hitting the deck in his last fight against Cosme Rivera. "He has bitten off more than he can chew, not because Cosme dropped him. Anyone can get knockdown, but he handled it well, he got up and won the fight. On September 29th the world will see what kind of fighter I am when I'm prepared," said Estrada.
Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment is as excited as any fan would be over this pivotal matchup. "This will be an explosive bout between two Florida natives, as Berto puts his youth, power and speed up against the experience, toughness and resiliency of Estrada."
Tickets for Jermain Taylor vs. Kelly Pavlik "Throwback" are priced at $400, $300, $200, $100 and $50, are now on sale and can be purchased at the Boardwalk Hall box office, by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-736-1420 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com .