By Mitch Abramson
While Andre Berto was as candid as could be during a conference call on Thursday, taking aim at the media for questioning his staying power, his opponent on Sept. 3 in Biloxi, IBF welterweight champion Jan Zaveck took the high road, over and over and over again, skillfully dodging questions and refusing to say anything incendiary during the call, which, of course, is what us scribes live for.
While Zaveck remains an anonymous fighter to most fans not from his hometown of Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, after his careful comments during the conference call, he remains as such. Zaveck did negate an internet rumor that he has been sparring with Floyd Mayweather to prepare for his fight, telling BoxingScene.com that it was not true, but he was noncommittal about nearly everything else.
“We are prepared for this title fight,” he said. “Anyone who is prepared to fight like we are will be ready for a good fight. I respect Berto as a fighter because he has heart, but that doesn’t mean that I’m afraid of him. I am very well prepared for this fight. We have the best preparation. It will be a very good fight.”
To his credit, Zaveck (31-1, 18 knockouts) sounded like a decent guy, and his command of English was respectable- he chose to speak without a translator- but he just refused to say anything provocative during the call, or even answer questions directly, kind of like a well-schooled politician.
He refused to admit that Berto was his toughest opponent to date, even though Zaveck has never fought in the U.S. He refused to say if he would try to test Berto’s chin or try for a knockout, or give the slightest hint of what type of strategy he might employ.
“I learn from each fight,” he said. “Each fight is different. You can have a plan but when you go into the ring you will be disturbed, and I then make my plan in the ring. Of course, in boxing, one punch can decide a fight, also. But Berto is a strong fighter.”
Youtube footage of Zaveck, who has defended his title four times since stopping Isaac Hlatshwayo two years ago, shows him to be a strong, sturdy, aggressive fighter, who’s well-schooled and favors paid ink advertisements on his back.
He did answer a question directly on which opponent on his resume resembles the rough-and-tumble style of Berto, pointing to the Argentinean boxers, Jorge Daniel Miranda and Rodolfo Ezequiel Martinez, both of whom he stopped in the 12th round.
Lou DiBella, Berto's promoter, actually came to his defense many times on the call, when some writers tried to disparage him as an opponent, but Zaveck didn’t feel the need to speak up. Perhaps, he will let his actions speak for himself in the ring on Sept. 3.
Mitch Abramson covers the boxing scene for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.