Andre Berto Joins The Club, With Marvin Hagler

“I didn’t know I was gonna have to wear track shoes,” Berto said. “I had to do a lot of chasing. … That’s him, man. He runs around, he holds you, he does all that type of (stuff), but everybody can see I really gave him a fight.” —Andre Berto to TMZ Sports 9/13/15

Let me see, Floyd Mayweather has been a professional boxer since late 1996. Prior to fighting Andre Berto a few weeks ago, Mayweather fought 48 times in front of the public. In other words, Floyd was an open book stylistically heading into the Berto bout.

As for his boxing style, he is best categorized as a boxer/counter-puncher. Floyd likes to fight outside and sometimes uses his feet/legs for defense and to elude punches because he usually sets his opponents up to nail them on the way in. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone reading this. And that’s 10-fold if you’re a professional fighter and a veteran of 33 professional fights.

If you’re Andre Berto and preparing to fight Floyd Mayweather, it’s extremely likely that he’s not going to stand there in front of you and make it easy for you to hit him. It’s highly unlikely that Floyd ever has visions of emulating the late Arturo Gatti on fight night. That’s why Berto’s words above ring hollow and come off as sour grapes because he was unable to prevent Mayweather from boxing and executing his intended fight.

Sugar Ray Leonard is one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in history and so is Marvin Hagler. As most know, Hagler and Leonard fought for the WBC middleweight title back on April 6th, 1987. They were both open books stylistically, too. Prior to their super fight, Leonard stipulated that he and Hagler were to wear 10 ounce gloves for their bout instead of the regulation eight ounce gloves that middleweights usually wear. He also wanted the fight scheduled for 12-rounds instead of 15 and was adamant that they fight in a 20 foot ring. Hagler balked at those demands but for roughly three million dollars he gave in to Leonard’s demands. And unfortunately for Hagler, his over-confidence had a lot to do with him not leaving the ring with his title.

Two years before fighting Leonard, Hagler fought Thomas Hearns. For the entire run-up to the bout Hagler wore a baseball hat with the word “War” inscribed on the front of it. Hearns obliged Hagler and the fight was the closest thing you could get to being an all-out war in the ring the night they fought. Hearns, because Hagler was such a tough and unbreakable monster, was counted out in the third round of a great fight. Sugar Ray Leonard did the color commentary for HBO PPV for the bout and obviously took notes pertaining to Hagler. So I ask, is it a stretch to believe that Leonard said to himself after watching Hagler-Hearns, ‘if I ever fight Marvin Hagler, I’m not going to fight it out and go toe-to-toe with him like Hearns did.’

Here’s another tough question: if you’re Hagler and Leonard makes the demands that he did before he agreed to the bout, is it plausible to think that he’s even considering emulating Hearns’ ring strategy when he meets you? Of course not! Basically Ray telegraphed to Marvin that he wanted smaller gloves to lessen the impact of your punch, he wanted a bigger ring so it’s harder for you to nail him good and he wanted less rounds for him to have to escape you and keep a fight from breaking out. Finally when Hagler and Leonard confronted each other in the ring, Ray used his legs and continuously circled Marvin and boxed. As early as the second round it was painfully obvious that Hagler wasn’t great fighting as the attacker and was very pedestrian at cutting the ring off and cornering Leonard. Leonard picked his spots and flurried and then slid out to the left or right, leaving Hagler with nothing but a memory that he was there and only air to hit. In fact, there were more than a few times that Leonard fought off the ropes and won the exchanges before finally wheeling off the ropes. Leonard went on to win a split decision as a 4-1 underdog.

After the bout Hagler, like Berto, complained that Leonard fought like a girl and ran during the fight.

No, no, no, Marvin and Andre, Ray and Floyd boxed your arse off.

Where does it state in the rulebook that a fighter must stand with his feet planted to the canvas and fight it out? The onus wasn’t on Ray and Floyd to stand there and make it easy for you – or to fight you at your strength. Hagler and Berto both knew long in advance before they fought Leonard and Mayweather how they were going to fight them. It was their job to not allow Leonard or Mayweather to do what they wanted to. Their job was to make it a bar fight and prevent them from boxing. The problem was they just weren’t good enough to do it. And what’s really funny is Hagler and Berto implied that Leonard and Mayweather couldn’t punch. To which I say they punched plenty hard enough to win and to keep you guys from going after them as if they were handcuffed.

I’m tired of hearing world class fighters cry and plead their case after losing to a great boxer that their opponent ran and wouldn’t fight. The reality is, if you’re fighting a great boxer, the goal is to prevent him from boxing and force him to open up and fight you.

At the elite level in boxing everybody knows how everybody else fights and what they’re good at. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that neither Leonard nor Mayweather didn’t stand there in front of Hagler and Berto and trade with them the way Hearns did when he fought Hagler.

The reason Hagler and Berto lost to Leonard and Mayweather is because they were more versatile and fought their fight and prevented Marvin and Andre from doing what they wanted/needed to do in order for them to be successful during the bout. Hagler lost to Leonard and has nobody to blame but the man in the mirror, and the same goes for Berto. The objective in boxing is to hit the opponent and prevent him from hitting you. Legs play a big role in boxing both offensively and defensively. Leonard and Mayweather used their legs and versatility to nullify and neutralize Hagler and Berto’s futile aggression, but they didn’t run……and the truth is Marvin and Andre weren’t good enough to do anything about it and that’s why they lost.

However, by Hagler and Berto proclaiming they lost the fight because they didn’t bring their track shoes, well, that rings hollow because they were both out-thought and out-fought. And it wasn’t like the strategy Leonard and Mayweather employed fooled anyone, except Mr. Hagler and Mr. Berto.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

COMMENTS

-Brad :

I don't really see anything in common with Berto and Hagler. Berto clearly lost. Hagler didn't. I think fans and media were split on who they thought won Leonard-Hagler. No one thought Berto won so his complaining doesn't register.I scored a very close fight for Hagler because he "won" more rounds. Leonard stole rounds in the eyes of the judges with shoe-shine punches that gets the crowd screaming but are ineffective...it's subjective but Hagler certainly had a beef about the scoring (Jo Jo Guerra had it 118-110 or 10 rounds to 2 for Leonard). A better comparison would be Leonard-Duran III. Duran's quickness of feet were gone at this point, if someone wanted to stand in front of him and fight he was still excellent (see the Barkley fight) but Leonard, like Floyd, had zero interest in doing anything other than winning the fight, however boring that may be to people watching.


-Froggy :

I too, thought Hagler won in spite of foolishly giving Leonard the first four rounds ! Anybody remember how many warnings Leonard got [I think for low blows] without losing a point, one point would have made the difference, judges always liked Leonard !


-Brad :

Lotierzo writes that both "Hagler and Berto proclaiming they lost the fight because they didn't bring their track shoes." No.....Hagler didn't think he lost! He was pissed that the judges got conned by Leonard's 15 second shoe-shine busts at the end of each round...and to hear someone see it as a 118-110 made me think something was up. Imagine how Hagler the defending champion who had been ripped off in the past felt. Hagler's complaints are justified. This was a weak piece by Frank.


-mortcola :

Hagler looked not so good. But he didn't necessarily lose the fight. THEre is another difference, besides Berto at his best being worse than Hagler at his worst, never really able to systematically break down an opponent through sharpshooting and intelligent tactics; Berto wins by athleticism and power only - Hagler not only aged very quickly - not just because Leonard made him look old and slow, he really did look in slow motion, beginning with a decline in reflexes during the Mugabi fight, and after several intense wars and lots of sparring wars. Leonard pulled another Mayweather in that fight - retroactively - and let Marvin age several more years before fighting him, in addition to the glove and ring demands. A credible close insider also tells me that by that portion of his career, Marvin had lost a lot of his between-fights discipline and had been drinking much more than usual during the latter portion of his career, contributing to an unfocused and physically dull presentation, all of which Leonard exploited beautifully. And still, there's a strong case to be made that Marvin gutted and pounded out a win despite Leonard's strategic smarts and intermittent flurries and counters and lovely dance moves.


-Kid Blast :

Excellent conclusion and nice read


-Domenic :

Not much to add here, given the superb comments by all. I'll just say that there's really no parallel whatsoever between the two fights, except for the fact that both Leonard and Berto were monumental underdogs (ESPN had a list of about 20 respected boxing journalists and boxers, and not a single one gave Berto even a semblance of a shot). Leonard - Hagler was intensely anticipated; Mayweather - Berto was met with apathy and yawns. Leonard - Hagler was a true superfight with an electric atmosphere. People literally feared for Leonard's life going into the bout (he had the detached retina, had been shelved forever, and looked awful against Kevin Howard). While the fight itself underwhelmed, there remained an edge-of-your-seat anticipation throughout. Conversely, Mayweather - Berto was a tepid, predictably dull, modern-day high-priced PPV mismatch that was the antithesis of electric, and has no historical boxing significance at all. It's comparing apples to oranges, and maybe not even that. More like apples to bricks.


-deepwater2 :

The self proclaimed tbe couldn't knock out shot Berto. Soto Karass stopped berto. Floyd either couldn't or didn't even try. I expect more from the self proclaimed tbe is, whoever it is


-dino da vinci :

No comparison. I agree with most comments here. To add to what mortcola said, which was very accurate, (I trained in Brockton as a teenager, but was in LA already at the time of this fight) the one ridiculous score, the 10 rounds to 2 brought to you by, and I have this on great account, none other than the next door neighbor of one of the world's largest known gamblers. Memory serves correctly Jo Jo Guerra never judged another contest. Side note: Petronelli & Co. declined a judge (memory says a Brit) that was offered to them before they agreed on Guerra. When the declined judge was asked he said he thought Hagler beat Leonard. Make of that what you will.


-mortcola :

The self proclaimed tbe couldn't knock out shot Berto. Soto Karass stopped berto. Floyd either couldn't or didn't even try. I expect more from the self proclaimed tbe is, whoever it is
Well, my earlier statement about Money was that his skills add up to nothing more than a street performer juggling 17 flaming turds, and that he is officially an anti-fighter who collects enough money to feed and educate thousands of people in exchange for making sure that the high paying viewer sees nothing happen. Oooooh, aaaaahh, frustrated opponent, shoulder roll, harmless bippity counter everybody goes home a little sweaty and none the worse for wear, except the fighters and their people have gazillions and my cable bill is high for a month. That's not The Sweet Science. That is the refined, sublime avoidance of it. Hey, no risk, no reward. Floyd minimizes risk - not by being so neuromuscularly gifted and training hard, but by not fighting people outside a certain margin of safety either by style or age/wear-tear, and by no longer even trying to beat his opponent down the old-fashioned way. So why so much reward? NOTHING HAPPENS. Leonard, Hearns, Hagler, Holmes, Ali, Duran, etc, each in his own way was at least Floyd's equal in the mastery of a certain style - and ALL took offensive risks in order to be honest to their sport and their viewers. Do you think Hearns couldn't have jabbed his way to an undefeated record by staying below middleweight and avoiding stone killers his own size or bigger? I don't denigrate Floyd's skills at ONE ASPECT of the game. It is that he achieves his defensive and counterpunching mastery by NEVER STEPPING OUTSIDE HIS COMFORT ZONE. Hey everybody - I see and react faster than most humans - I'm gonna parlay the AVOIDANCE part of boxing into a pseudo-legend while doing just enough to keep from getting booed out of Dodge and always getting a 10/9 round. In his own way, he has run a scam on the sport close in badness to Bernie Madoff. Dudes, even Willie Pep and Pernell Whitaker tried to hurt their opponents. Leonard was Floyd's equal in physical gifts and in many respects exceeds him in skills - punching variety, speed of combinations, near him in defensive slickness in and of itself, and definitely in a new quotient of defensive mastery factored in with risks taken, since Leonard had to defend while hunting your *** down and taking joy in finishing his shoeshine with a pulverizing, fight-ending hook, not stopping until the opponent was destroyed or the ref stepped in. Floyd=neutralize all risk, maximize monetary reward, by only applying ONE FACET of the sport because the other involved pain, risk (fighting) and loss of income. And since I value something called honor, getting rich while leaving the sport with nothing but achy knuckles - from back in the day when he DID try to hurt guys, combined with lots of heavy bag work - is a boxing dishonor of the lowest kind. Always in shape? For those paychecks, for the ability to filibuster the fight, he had to be. A prime Leonard or Hagler were in that shape so they could prevail in a war of risk, nerve, and skill, and KuTFU at the earliest opportunity. The era of the anti-fighter is almost over. Don't be suckered into canonizing the bastard. He does something very well, but it ain't fighting, and its only half of boxing.


-amayseng :

I have nothing remotely to add but am very gracious for all the comments. Very intriguing. Well done guys.


-SouthPawFlo :

Solid Article... Well written


-george0383 :

Leonard did alot of showboating to the crowd when he fought Hagler, and the judges bought it. I remember days after the fight the networks kept showing Sugar Ray winding up and throwing a bolo punch at Hagler and the crowd going crazy. But if you watched carefully, he hit Marvin LOW with that punch. That was the kind of night the Marvelous one had and why he felt the judging was unfair. Also, Leonard waited a long time to take on Hagler, just like Floyd did with Manny. Also, Floyd was never warned once to stop holding Berto, which he did alot. He would beat Berto anyway, but why make it easier for him? Also, no way he stays retired!


-Radam G :

Leonard did alot of showboating to the crowd when he fought Hagler, and the judges bought it. I remember days after the fight the networks kept showing Sugar Ray winding up and throwing a bolo punch at Hagler and the crowd going crazy. But if you watched carefully, he hit Marvin LOW with that punch. That was the kind of night the Marvelous one had and why he felt the judging was unfair. Also, Leonard waited a long time to take on Hagler, just like Floyd did with Manny. Also, Floyd was never warned once to stop holding Berto, which he did alot. He would beat Berto anyway, but why make it easier for him? Also, no way he stays retired!
The corrupted alphabet-sanctioning organizations don't even accept that Lil Floyd is retiring. This why they are letting him keep his titles instead of declaring them vacated and letting the top two guns in those divisions and organizations scrap for them. Holla!


-DaveB :

"The era of the anti-fighter is almost over. Don't be suckered into canonizing the bastard." Damn, that is the best line I've read in a long time. Beautiful writing.


-Art :

Leonard and Floyd lost the boxing public's respect with Ray vs Hagler and FM vs everyone from Lightweight up!! You don't "have to fight that way" but it doesn't help your legacy when you run instead of fight your opponent. Yes, they won their fights but they tarnished their legacies! Specially Floyd Mayweather, who has been fighting like a scared Ray Leonard against Hagler for the last 8 years!! He got rich because we wanted to see him engage and fight!! Many people wanted him to lose but I just wanted him to FIGHT!! Berto is right!! Like Juan Manuel Marquez said, "you can't hit someone that doesn't want to fight"! Leonard only fought like that against Hagler, because he was scared of him! Period!! FM fights like that all the time!!


-mortcola :

"The era of the anti-fighter is almost over. Don't be suckered into canonizing the bastard." Damn, that is the best line I've read in a long time. Beautiful writing.
Thanks. It was inspired by a lot of yelling at the TV. Mayweather has some freakish abilities, refinement of natural gifts. But he is (don’t get me started again)


-john Burns :


Having watched many of Floyd's track meets and having watched Leonard run around the ring like a track star against Hagler and Duran (second fight) I must say that I do not appreciate this style of boxing. Personally, I wouldn't pay a nickel to watch a runner box. Give me a Golovkin or a Marciano every time. If I wanted to watch a dance, I would go to the ballet.


-Domenic :


Having watched many of Floyd's track meets and having watched Leonard run around the ring like a track star against Hagler and Duran (second fight) I must say that I do not appreciate this style of boxing. Personally, I wouldn't pay a nickel to watch a runner box. Give me a Golovkin or a Marciano every time. If I wanted to watch a dance, I would go to the ballet.
I hear you. The only time I don't mind it is if an element of danger exists. This danger was non-existent for Floyd against Berto. The article would've made more sense if we were talking about Floyd challenging Golovkin at 160 (Berto shouldn't be in the equation at all). The danger for Floyd would be palpable, big time, and the arena would be electric (after all, this is exactly what Ray Leonard did). If in this fictional matchup Floyd sticks to his modus operandi and, as Mortcola says, 'filibusters the fight,' and outboxes and outfoxes him and peppers his way to a decision win, it'd be the biggest victory of his career by miles. He'd get major kudos for surviving the boxing equivalent of riding a wheel barrel over Niagara Falls. Leonard did it against Hagler. The element of danger for Ray was his long layoff, and despite the ring and glove concessions, he didn't drain Hagler. No catchweight. He was off 3 years and jumped from welter to middle without a tune-up. That's why people legitimately feared for Ray Leonard's safety that night. Also about Ray, while he did box, he was much more than a runner. He was tough, and an excellent finisher. No runner/anti-fighter would've ever taken that fight against a prime Terry Norris, where he absorbed a pounding (his penultimate fight).


-SouthPawFlo :

I'm not even gonna comment any further on this topic, If boxers were as good at "cutting off the Ring" (which is a teachable and coachable skill in boxing) as Floyd was at using his footwork things would be different... And Leonard won the Hagler fight with movement, flashy combos and overalls ring generalship...


-Radam G :

I'm not even gonna comment any further on this topic, If boxers were as good at "cutting off the Ring" (which is a teachable and coachable skill in boxing) as Floyd was at using his footwork things would be different... And Leonard won the Hagler fight with movement, flashy combos and overalls ring generalship...
I agree if that were the case. Now Berto didn't cut off the ring, but followed Money May like a lost puppy. But other pugs did cut dat squared jungle off on Lil Floyd, but the pro-Lil-Floyd referees then allowed him to hold like a bytch, elbow like a dirty offensive guard and rabbit punch in the kidneys and back like no tomorrow. In Money May's last five scrap, he has landed about 680 legal shots, but held over a thousand times -- not clinched -- but held. And he has used over 200 illegal upside-da-cranium elbows. And I'm not going to even try to count his kidney-punch illegalities. Holla!


-Matthew :

Oddly enough, Leonard has said that his strategy for the Hagler fight, at least until a couple weeks prior to the contest, was that he would try to fight Hagler, rather than box him. He saw the scar tissue around Hagler's eyes, and he thought he would be able to cut him and force a stoppage. I don't know if you would call this hubris or delusion, but he changed his strategy after nearly being knocked out by Quincy Taylor in sparring. It seems unthinkable, given Leonard's excellent ring IQ and his role as an HBO analyst for several of Hagler's title defenses, but this story came straight from Leonard's mouth. Someone in a previous post mentioned that the bolo punch Leonard landed on Hagler in the fourth round was low. Based on where Hagler wore his trunks, technically it was a low blow. However, Hagler usually wore his trunks high, and this was an issue that Angelo Dundee brought up to referee Richard Steele prior to the bout. This may be why Steele didn't issue a warning on that particular punch.


-Radam G :

Oddly enough, Leonard has said that his strategy for the Hagler fight, at least until a couple weeks prior to the contest, was that he would try to fight Hagler, rather than box him. He saw the scar tissue around Hagler's eyes, and he thought he would be able to cut him and force a stoppage. I don't know if you would call this hubris or delusion, but he changed his strategy after nearly being knocked out by Quincy Taylor in sparring. It seems unthinkable, given Leonard's excellent ring IQ and his role as an HBO analyst for several of Hagler's title defenses, but this story came straight from Leonard's mouth. Someone in a previous post mentioned that the bolo punch Leonard landed on Hagler in the fourth round was low. Based on where Hagler wore his trunks, technically it was a low blow. However, Hagler usually wore his trunks high, and this was an issue that Angelo Dundee brought up to referee Richard Steele prior to the bout. This may be why Steele didn't issue a warning on that particular punch.
Nice, very interesting post. U da MAN! Holla!


-Brad :

Oddly enough, Leonard has said that his strategy for the Hagler fight, at least until a couple weeks prior to the contest, was that he would try to fight Hagler, rather than box him. He saw the scar tissue around Hagler's eyes, and he thought he would be able to cut him and force a stoppage. I don't know if you would call this hubris or delusion, but he changed his strategy after nearly being knocked out by Quincy Taylor in sparring. It seems unthinkable, given Leonard's excellent ring IQ and his role as an HBO analyst for several of Hagler's title defenses, but this story came straight from Leonard's mouth. Someone in a previous post mentioned that the bolo punch Leonard landed on Hagler in the fourth round was low. Based on where Hagler wore his trunks, technically it was a low blow. However, Hagler usually wore his trunks high, and this was an issue that Angelo Dundee brought up to referee Richard Steele prior to the bout. This may be why Steele didn't issue a warning on that particular punch.
I read about Leonard changing his strategy after the Quincy Taylor "mock" fight also...and I still don't believe it. Sugar Ray knew that Roberto Duran had the right strategy vs Hagler and Hearns had the wrong strategy against Hagler. Hagler stopped all middleweights in title defenses except two: Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard saw Duran outsmart Hagler who had every physical advantage over Duran. Duran did things Hagler wasn't expecting. He didn't come at Hagler as one would expect Duran to. He let Hagler, who loved to counterpunch, set the tempo. He landed lead right hands on Hagler when he came in, something no one ever did to Hagler. Duran's timing, footwork, feinting and defense allowed him to be successful against the bigger stronger younger Hagler. I'm sure Leonard saw this as the way to beat Marvin. Not looking for a stoppage. I think


-Radam G :

I read about Leonard changing his strategy after the Quincy Taylor "mock" fight also...and I still don't believe it. Sugar Ray knew that Roberto Duran had the right strategy vs Hagler and Hearns had the wrong strategy against Hagler. Hagler stopped all middleweights in title defenses except two: Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard saw Duran outsmart Hagler who had every physical advantage over Duran. Duran did things Hagler wasn't expecting. He didn't come at Hagler as one would expect Duran to. He let Hagler, who loved to counterpunch, set the tempo. He landed lead right hands on Hagler when he came in, something no one ever did to Hagler. Duran's timing, footwork, feinting and defense allowed him to be successful against the bigger stronger younger Hagler. I'm sure Leonard saw this as the way to beat Marvin. Not looking for a stoppage. I think
Also a nice, very interesting post. U 2 are da MAN! Holla!


-SuperLight :

I admit I didn't watch the Mayweather-Berto fight. I wasn't interested in it. I can't really comment on Berto's expectations during the lead-up, or on the result, because all I have is Frank's (and other TSS posters') words here. Hagler and Leonard, however... Hagler is easily my favourite middleweight, and quite possibly my favourite boxer of all time. I surely don't need to go into all his attributes and achievements to convince any of you that he was up there with the greats. However, even a "one-eyed" fan such as I can concede that Hagler lost to Leonard in their super fight. As Frank and others have noted, he gave concessions to ring and glove size, and practically gave away four rounds sticking to an orthodox stance. He was, for whatever reason, not at his best on that night. Ray Leonard has unfairly been called a "creation" of the media. Yes, he was their darling, but in no way a creation or hollow myth. No-one can take away the work he put in, or his skills as a pretty complete boxer. Being fleet footed, as others have noted, doesn't take away his ability as a finisher and a fighter. One of Leonard's biggest skills, though, was exploiting his opponents's weaknesses. We know how he timed his bouts with Duran and Hagler, when he suspected them going soft or losing it just enough to give him an edge. And, yes, he usually made the most of his style versus his opponent's. As a man, Hagler certainly had no love for him. I get the impression that besides being, shrewd, sly and calculating, he was a smug son of a gun. Like blatant false modesty, the smugness bugs me as a fan. If I was in Hagler's or Duran's shoes, my blood would've been boiling too. Against Hagler, Leonard pretty much did what was expected of him. The flurries were winning over the judges, sure, but I don't think his style that night was at all surprising. I'd have thought Hagler and the Petronellis' game plan would be to knock out Leonard and leave no doubt - a lesson learnt from Antuofermo and others? Either he couldn't or wouldn't do it, hence the still-debated decision. As I said, I never watched Floyd's bout against Berto, but if anyone was expecting Mayweather to be anything but slick, evasive and risk-averse ("running", according to the many detractors), then he's quite deluded. It doesn't take a genius to realise the way to beat him is to knock him out - if you can lay a hand on him!