SAN DIEGO, April 22, 2017 – Boxing doesn’t have a defined Opening Day and specific season like many professional sports. But it does have its own cycles and rhythm. This week marks the start of the 2017 spring boxing season in earnest with two significant cards on both coasts.
The day starts with the Premier Boxing Champions card from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Showtime featuring two former world champions in the welterweight division. Shawn Porter, who lost a narrow decision to Keith Thurman, faces Andre Berto, who scored a stoppage over Victor Ortiz following his loss in Floyd Mayweather’s final (for now) bout.
Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) has never been in a boring fight. When Berto (31-4, 24 KOs) has the right dance partner (anyone other than Mayweather), he’s happy to get down to business. Count on the pair putting on a good show. At stake is the opportunity to become the WBC mandatory challenger for current titleholder Keith Thurman. If Porter wins, it sets up a rematch most fans would love to see.
“The number one thing for me is to win this fight and show Keith Thurman that I’m ready for the rematch,” said Porter. “There is nothing allowed but positive energy. We’re almost there.
“Andre Berto is dangerous if you allow him to be. We do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen. I have no doubt in my mind that we won’t be in any danger on Saturday night.
“We saw during the Floyd fight that footwork can work against Andre Berto. Against Josesito Lopez we saw that you can box Berto, but you need to get out of the pocket. Against Victor Ortiz we saw that he got put down by Victor. The difference between Victor Ortiz and myself is that I’m a fighter who never stops. I’m coming after you,” declared Porter.
If Berto wins, it’s a shot at redemption after falling from grace.
“I’m still on top of my game. That’s something that’s hard to do,” said Berto. “We had a tremendous camp. One of the best I’ve had in years. I was focused the whole time. I’m looking forward to putting those straps on just like they never left. I respect Shawn and his dad, but right now, they’re in the way.
“I’m going to show you what it is to go through adversity in life and make it to the top again. Saturday night, we’re going to make it happen.”
We’re calling this one for Porter. Berto may test him, but Porter is the younger, fresher fighter. Porter by decision, or perhaps a very late stoppage.
Opening the East Coast show is women’s four-division champion Amanda Serrano (31-1-1, 23 KOs) of Puerto Rico making a bid for a belt in the bantamweight division against Dahiana Santana (35-8, 14 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. If Serrano wins, the 28-year-old will become the first Puerto Rican professional boxer to win world titles in five weight classes, breaking the record she now holds with Miguel Cotto.
“I’m extremely blessed to be in this position,” said Serrano. “I’m thankful to my whole team for getting me prepared and where I am right now. I trained really hard for this fight. Being a five-division world champion is a great accomplishment. I’m so ready for it … I want to be known as one of the best female fighters and one of the best Puerto Rican fighters in the history of the sport.”
Santana said, “I’ve trained very hard physically and mentally for this fight and I feel ready for a victory. I know that with the work we did in training, that I’ll be ready for anything Serrano brings into the ring.
“I’m thankful to Showtime for airing a women’s fight and on Saturday we will give you a war at Barclays Center.” Yes, we are. Since Santana came in four pounds over the weight limit, she can win but Serrano’s title is not on the line.
In between these bouts, junior middleweights Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) and Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs) return to the ring after significant layoffs. They fight for the title Charlo won 11 months ago over John Jackson. Hatley has been out even longer; 17 months since his upset knockout win over Anthony Mundine in Australia.
Charlo said he’s been training during his time off and feels ready as ever. He’s annoyed by a lack of regard not only for his career, but for his twin brother Jermall, who recently relinquished his junior middleweight title to move up to middleweight. “My brother and I aren’t getting the respect we deserve in this game. We’re still trying to prove a point and it’ll start on Saturday with this fight,” said Jermell, who will have his brother in his corner Saturday.
“This is the strongest and the fastest I’ve ever been. Hatley’s going to do what he’s got to do. We’ve got our team and I’m happy that my team is in this position,” said Charlo.
Hatley, whose only loss came fairly earlier in his career, said “There’s a new sheriff in town. I’m thankful to everyone who got me this opportunity and made this happen. Now it’s party time. I’ve been working for this fight my whole life, not just for months.
“I’ve wanted Jermell for three years. There’s no other fight in boxing that I want more than this. We had a long camp and we never stopped working. I’m going to bring the best out of him and become the new champion.”
The action on Showtime begins at 9:30 p.m. ET, with preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer 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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Copyright © 2017 by Falcon Valley Group