Nothing in sports is ever a sure thing. Ask Serena Williams -- and Mike Tyson.
SAN DIEGO, September 11, 2015 – Everyone expects Floyd Mayweather, the world’s pound for pound best boxer, to have little trouble with challenger Andre Berto on Saturday night in Las Vegas. With a win, Mayweather will match Rocky Marciano’s record of 49 fights without a loss.
Everyone also expected Serena Williams to easily defeat an unknown Italian tennis player named Roberta Vinci Friday on her way to the first calendar Grand Slam since 1988.
Vinci defeated Williams today and to call it shocking hardly scratches the surface. At Friday’s weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Berto didn’t know who Vinci was when asked by Showtime’s Jim Gray. If Gray had called Vinci “the Buster Douglas of tennis,” maybe Berto would have understand what he meant bringing up Vinci’s name.
The crowd attending Friday’s weigh-in was a third the number for the Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao weigh-in, perhaps 4,000 people. They had more enthusiam for British boxer George Groves and Mayweather Promotions fighter Badou Jack; Jack received plenty of boos and catcalls, and they weren’t all from the boisterous British fans in the house.
Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) and Berto (30-3, 23 KOs) showed their teeth, talking to each other and gesturing during the weigh-in. There is an undercurrent of dislike between the two; Berto isn’t smiing at Floyd like Manny Pacquiao did. Both came in well under the 147 pound welterweight limit; Berto at 145 and Mayweather at 146.
Berto says it doesn’t matter to him that he’s such an underdog. “Where I come from, we never had a chance to come out of that,” said Berto of his Haitian immigrant heritage. “Just the fact that I’m here, that tells you something.” Invoking Roberta Vinci’s name, Berto was asked if lightning can strike twice. “Of course man, God is good. So everybody just tune in.”
Mayweather made the usual comments about not overlooking any opponent.
You know, I’ve been here before. I know what it takes for when it’s a fight of this magnitude. Just stay focused, and go out there and do what I do best, and that’s win,” Mayweather said.
“ I’ve faced everybody in the sport of in boxing. I’ve faced Pacquiao, I’ve faced Cotto, I’ve faced Canelo, I’ve already faced the best fighters … ”The main thing itomorow is to go out there and be at my best. Since Pacquiao didn’t give the fans a good fight, tomorrow’s going to be a great fight,” Mayweather said to the cheers of fans in the arena.
All of the fighters on the undercard also made weight. Orlando Salido weighed 130 pounds, and Roman Martinez one-half pound less at 129.5 George Groves came in at the 168 pound super middleweight limit; Badou Jack a half pound less. Both Jonathan Oquendo and Jhonny Gonzalez weighed 129 pounds, and Ishe Smith hit 154 pounds, Vanes Martirosyan a half pound more.
Groves and Jack got the biggest reaction inside the areana from fans. From the enormous cheers for Groves and the boos and catcalls for Jack, you might have thought the bout was in London. Groves was in high spirits, telling Showtime’s Jim Gray “We’re feeling good, we’re feeling great, we’re ready to enjoy a disappointment tomorrow night with everyone in here who’s come out to support me. I can’t wait. Badou Jack is not going to know what hit him, he’s out of his depth, he’s in for a fight he cannot compete with … Badou Jack, no matter how good he is, he’s not as good as me. I’m a better fighter in every aspect.”
Jack dismissed the comments in his laid back way, saying the British fan support in Las Vegas didn’t intimidate him. “Absolutely not, they can’t fight for him. Actually, UK fans are the best fans in the world, they always travel to see the big fights … I’m prepared for war, we’ll be ready.”
No one in their right mind including me would bet their own money against Money Mayweather at this point of his career, not against someone with as thin a resume as Andre Berto. But the intrigue in sports lies in the unpredictable, those moments when a Roberta Vinci or a Buster Douglas does the unthinkable. Will Andre Berto have a Buster Douglas moment?
To do it, he needs to be aggressive early, try to throw Mayweather off his game. He needs to try and smother Mayweather, and he needs to test referee Kenny Bayliss to see what type of shameless tactics (some might say dirty tricks) he can get away with. All of Berto’s serious damage is done with his right hand, and Mayweather knows it. He needs to figure out a way to offer some misdirection early, invoking the element of unpredictability.
For his part, Mayweather needs to do what he does best. His defensive skills are second to none. He can take advantage of greater height and reach; he doesn’t need to bang with Berto and despite his big talk he doesn’t need a knockout. He can work his jab, punch with accuracy and snag the scorecards one round at a time.
What no one wants to see is a fight stopped due to cuts or vision problems. Berto has suffered serious facial cuts and damage in the past. It’s entirely possible if he’s fighting hurt and is losing round after round, trainer Virgil Hunter might even throw in the towel by the ninth or tenth ring. This would be the only real disappointing outcome of the evening.
Communities Digital News will be ringside at the fight in Las Vegas, and we will provide round by round reports throughout the fight card including the main event. Join us Saturday night, and we won’t charge you a penny for the privilege.
Mayweather vs. Berto, “High Stakes,” airs on Showtime PPV Saturday, September 12, starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT with the undercard bouts.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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