PORTER vs BERTO — This Saturday’s WBC welterweight title eliminator between former title holders Andre Berto 31-4 (24) and Shawn Porter 26-2-1 (16) should be a fun fight to watch based on their last bouts. Last April, in his rematch with Victor Ortiz, Berto came off the deck to score a fourth round stoppage. This was five years after losing to Ortiz by a unanimous decision the first time they met. Two months after Berto-Ortiz II, Porter lost a very spirited 12-round unanimous decision to WBA title holder Keith Thurman. Many ringside observers thought Porter had done enough to earn the decision.
Now the two ranked contenders are going to clash with a title shot on the line, most likely against Keith Thurman. And based on Thurman’s struggle with Porter, I doubt Thurman wants to see him again. Porter is a respected fan favorite and always brings explosiveness and aggression. His two decision defeats — to Kell Brook and Thurman — were very close and more than a few keen observers saw him as the winner. And both of those fighters are among the division’s elite. Berto, like Porter, also has never shied away from fighting the best of the best in the welterweight division.
Never in a boring fight, Berto has notable wins over Luis Collazo (UD 12) Juan Urango (UD 12) Josesito Lopez (TKO 6) and Victor Ortiz (TKO 4)…and has lost to Victor Ortiz (UD 12) Robert Guerrero (UD 12) Jesus Soto Karass (TKO by 12) and Floyd Mayweather (UD 12). Andre is most known for having a good jab and an effective uppercut, but since surgery to repair a tendon in his right shoulder in 2013, he hasn’t been as good offensively. It’s doubtful that he is much more of a puncher than Shawn Porter at this time. And Porter has in his DNA a few of the characteristics of the fighters who have defeated Andre Berto.
Porter has notable wins over Devon Alexander (UD 12), Paulie Malinaggi (TKO 4) and Adrian Broner (UD 12) and has only lost to the best in the aforementioned Brook (MD 12) and Thurman. Porter is a tough and rugged fighter who pressures his opponents and throws a lot of punches, but unlike most swarmers, he tries to jab his way in. A very well trained and determined fighter, he wants a rematch with Thurman badly and is surely motivated by that.
When looking at these two, Porter is the one who has a future. At 29 he’s four years younger and has acquitted himself better than Andre in the fights when it mattered most. Berto is only 33 and that’s not thought of as being old like it once was, but there’s the injury factor and his lack of a true identity other than being seen as a fighter on the world class level. Despite winning a title twice, Berto was never really an obstacle for the elite guys in the division.
If Porter is able to get Berto to trade and fight it out with him in a toe-to-toe manner, Andre will be in for a rough night and will leave the ring a dejected fighter. There’s an outside chance that Berto can win if he can be successful keeping his distance and set Porter up for his counters and right uppercut. The problem is that Porter is well aware of this and knows if he succumbs to Berto stylistically he’ll be in jeopardy of losing and the title shot against Thurman becomes more of a dream than a reality.
The key for Porter is that he must swarm Berto and make him uncomfortable with his disruptive aggression. However, he’s a little unconventional in that he likes to jab his way in and use his footwork to establish his punching position. A swarmer who is capable of jabbing his way in as opposed to one who relies on slipping punches and making his opponent miss in order to get inside is harder to neutralize. Berto needs to be fast and smart enough to get off and fill the momentary openings while Porter’s in the midst of punching, but that’s something that is more plausible in words than actuality.
Porter’s intent will be to try and force Berto to become a little reckless and open to more exchanges. Shawn’s quicker hands and better work-rate will provide Berto with plenty of obstacles to overcome or at least attempt to neutralize…..but I don’t believe Berto is good enough doing any one thing to pull that off without giving ground and then being lured into having to fight Porter off of him, and if that is how the fight unfolds, the winner will no longer be in question.
Porter ate some big left hooks and right hands from Thurman during their confrontation and he never lost his ground or stopped firing back. He is a hard guy to discourage and that’s something that cannot be overlooked in this clash. Porter most likely has too much grit and energy for Berto and is very capable of breaking him down while sapping his will to win as the bout progresses. Porter is a better fighter in every respect, and he’s more determined and capable of digging down deeper.
With this being a big fight that will have many fighters, media members and fans watching, this is the ideal time for Porter to make a statement. Berto has only been stopped once. He’s a formidable fighter with name recognition, but he is on the decline and it wouldn’t help Porter’s brand if he wins a close fight. In order to become a force in the division he has to separate himself from Berto in front of those who matter.
Porter no doubt will win the fight. The only question is does he win by decision or stoppage? I believe Porter will be driven by wanting to make a statement and gets the stoppage late.
Photo credit: Ryan Greene / PBC
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com