Sharkie’s Machine: Andre Berto Joins the Elite at Welterweight
By Frank Gonzalez Jr. exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (June 22, 2008)  
Saturday night in Memphis, welterweight contender Andre Berto, who hails from Winter Haven Florida, improved his record to 22-0, 19 KO’s as he shut out and TKO’d Miguel Angel Rodriguez (29-3, 23 KO’s) in the seventh round to win the vacated WBC Welterweight Title belt that used to belong to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Rodriguez never showed any ability to hurt Berto and certainly couldn’t keep up with his speed. In this fight, Rodriguez may best be remembered for his almost cocky attitude, smiling a lot when he got hit and doing a lot of
talking for a guy who was getting hit so frequently. He lost his job as a policeman in Mexico because of all the time away from the job he took to train for this fight. He may not have to worry about paying his bills since I bet he’ll be getting a lot of calls from promoters who want to showcase their fighters. Rodriguez may have a good career as, ‘the smiling journeyman.’

Notably, Berto’s last three opponents were higher quality fighters with winning records, including Michael Trabant (42-3-1, 19 KO’s), David Estrada (21-4, 13 KO’s) and journeyman, Cosme Rivera (30-11, 21 KO’s).

In contrast, Rodriguez’ last three opponents consisted of only one guy with a decent record. They include Jerome Ellis (11-7-1, 10 KO’s), James Webb (19-1, 16 KO’s) and Francisco Villanueva (3-3, 2 KO’s) and has lost 14 of his last 15 fights since and now sports a record of 4-18-1, 2 KO’s. Four fights ago, Rodriguez lost to Carlos Baldomir in a twelve round Decision. I don’t understand how Rodriguez qualified for this chance to win the vacant WBC title but that’s the way it goes in boxing. Clearly, Miguel Angel Rodriguez didn’t have the kind of resume that suggested he could beat a quality boxer puncher like Andre Berto. Match making, match making, match making. It’s what makes champions.

This was a great opportunity for the fast handed and highly marketable Andre Berto, who showed improvements on defense and ring generalship against a limited opponent. Berto is exciting to watch. Marketing makes rankings and now and as such, Andre Berto is now the newest member of the elite at Welterweight. It’s a deep division and the other three major titlists are Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams.

Berto is probably not ready to fight any of those three champs in his division any time soon, but with his new WBC title, he’ll be expected to fight top notch opponents from this point on.

Guys I’d like to see him fight next include, Kermit Cintron, Carlos Quintana, Luis Collazo or Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. who should be ready to fight a top rated fighter by this time, after compiling a record of 36-0-1, 29 KO’s.

It makes sense from a marketing point of view that Shane Mosley might be the man that, ‘the powers that be’ put in front of Berto next. Does Mosley have enough left to beat this young upstart? They can bill that fight as age vs. youth. Yeah, I know, we get that one all the time. We just saw one Saturday night when Raul Marquez won an upset decision over highly regarded prospect, Giovanni Lorenzo, who saw his 0 go after Marquez found a way to win the most rounds. Mosley still has the speed and power to keep up with Berto and it could be a good fight.

Andre Berto was gracious in his remarks after the fight and when prodded, was wise not to call anyone out in the division. He said he looks forward to looking at his new title belt all night. And why not, for him, this is a dream come true. Berto is looking good so far but the truth is—he remains untested.

Let’s see who and how he fights next time up. Until then, I congratulate him on another fine performance over a guy he was expected to beat.

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