Boxing is dead, you hear some say, and I’ve always been of the mind that indeed it isn’t dead…it might be a little creaky-jointed, maybe in a middle-aged lull…but dead, no in way.
That stance is that much more credible today, as fights cards and series are popping up like ice cream stands near pot dispensaries.
We heard that Al Haymon is bringing boxing back to a glory days slot, on the networks, on NBC, on primetime. Music to my ears; there’s nothing like the attractiveness of the sport to channel surfers if someone is flipping the dial and comes across a dramatic prize-fight. And we now know that more boxing is coming to cable, what with Spike entering the fray, with a once-a-month production kicking off March 13.
On that night, Andre Berto gets back into the ring for another swing, putting his 29-3 mark on the line against Josesito Lopez (33-6). This pits two vets who have seen the view from the majesty of the high mountain, and who have also felt the sting from being unable to finish an arduous ascent. The Floridian Berto, age 31, told me he’s amped to scrap, and is feeling a considerable buzz which comes from knowing boxing as a whole is cooking with grease and on four burners. “It’s gonna be a good situation,” he told me. “Everybody is excited, this is how it used to be. Now this will be on free cable, going out to like 92 million homes. I think the fighters are beginning to realize how big this platform is now.”
Berto is 2-3 in his last five but says he isn’t feeling even a hint of an inkling that his best days are behind him. He knows a win here, coupled with his longevity and name recognition, means he could find himself in the Floyd Mayweather mix right quick. “My best days are definitely ahead of me,” he told me. He dealt with closed eyes from, he said, thumbs, in his loss to Ghost Guerrero in 2012. In his next outing his shoulder tore in round two against Jesus Soto Karass. So he’s dealt with adversity and then some. He’s keen to hopefully show what he can do with his body cooperating fully with him, on March 13, in Cali, he states.
His prediction? “I’m looking to just damage everything and everyone in front of me!” Berto said. “This platform came at the perfect time! My prediction for March 13 is tremendous excitement. It’s gonna be cinematic! This isn’t just my next chapter, it’s gonna be the best chapter in boxing!”
Lopez begs to differ. The Cali boxer told me that he believes his best is yet to come. He thinks he’s a late bloomer, and would like this fight to be a win, and take over as his career-best win from the 2012 triumph over Victor Ortiz. He thinks Berto is in the right place at the right time, not long from an injury layoff, and having lost more than he’s won of late. “This is the exciting type of fight that I need. I need one of those fights,” Lopez told me. “I can beat this guy. We match up very well.”
The hitter says he’s as excited as he’s been in some time, and that stems from the “boxing is back” buzz that people are feeling. “With SPIKE and Al Haymon this will bring out the best in me!”
Lopez has fought guys before or after they get a stab at a Mayweather lotto ticket. He knows a win here gets his name recognition into another realm, so yes, he knows the immensity of the stakes. “My best is yet to come,” he said, when I asked if there is no nagging part of him that wonders if he has already peaked. And what about Berto? Are his best days behind him? Lopez paused. And I could hear the gears whirring in his head, him pondering how trash-talky he could or should get. “We shall see. It is a big question mark. But it comes down to me doing my job, not worrying about him being one hundred percent. On March 14, I will be victorious, and give fans what they want.”
Follow Woods on the Twitter: