Dan Rafael: Andre Berto

Victor Ortiz giving it another go

November, 7, 2014
Nov 7
Victor OrtizRich Kane/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsFormer welterweight titlist Victor "Vicious" Ortiz will be back in the ring on Dec. 13.

Victor Ortiz was on top of the world after winning a welterweight world title by decision from Andre Berto in a terrific fight in 2011. He had finally lived up to the vast potential he showed on the way up and seemed poised for a good run.

But Ortiz has not won a fight since. Instead, he has lost three in a row. Badly. By knockout.

In Ortiz’s first defense later in 2011, Floyd Mayweather Jr. knocked him out in the fourth round to take his belt, albeit somewhat controversially. Ortiz returned in June 2012 to face massive underdog Josesito Lopez and was stopped in the ninth round because of a badly broken jaw. A lengthy injury layoff followed (during which he was a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” and also filmed a role in “The Expendables 3”), and he did not fight again until January.

That went as bad -- worse, even -- than the previous two fights, as former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo knocked him out in the second round. Many were critical of Ortiz’s apparent lack of effort in trying to beat the count.

At that point many thought Ortiz’s career was over, or at least that it should be. But guess who’s back? Yup. The 27-year-old Ortiz (29-5-2, 22 KOs) is giving it another go.

Ortiz will fight an opponent to be named -- and don’t expect anyone very good -- deep on the Devon Alexander-Amir Khan undercard on Dec. 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

On Wednesday in Los Angeles at the kickoff news conference for the card, Ortiz said he had no plans to quit boxing despite the terrible results in his past three fights.

"I've fallen a few times in my career, it happens,” Ortiz said. “I don't care what career you choose to do, you're going to fall. You get up and shake it off and move forward.”

Even after the brutal jaw injury to Lopez, Ortiz said he didn’t wallow in self-pity.

"Two years ago I broke my jaw in a fight, but I didn't sit around feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “I immediately took on ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ and six weeks in I was eliminated. From there I get a call from Sylvester Stallone to do ‘Expendables 3.’ Why not? I can't fight and my jaw is still shattered, so I went to Eastern Europe for three months.

"This is a fight that I'm taking very seriously. I can't afford to fall. I'm fortunate to have options, but right now my option is to be world champion. I've put two films aside to fight on Dec. 13. I could've trained and acted at the same time, but I knew that I had to focus completely on this fight. Not having an opponent doesn't affect my current training.”

Anyone would be skeptical of Ortiz regaining his stature in boxing. It seems awfully unlikely given the trajectory of his career.

"No one is forcing me to keep boxing, but I'm only 27 and I have a lot left in me. I'm in my prime and, at the end of the day, I'm back in the ring,” Ortiz said. “It's in me to fight, and I have a lot of unfinished business in the ring. I will, mark my words, be one of the greatest.”

Victor Ortiz planning November return

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
Former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz, who has been knocked out in his past three fights, plans to return to the ring.

Ortiz (29-5-2, 22 KOs), 27, of Oxnard, California, wrote Thursday on his Instagram page that he will be back in the ring before the end of the year.

He wrote, "Heads up, I'm back in the ring on first week of November! I'm stoked about it! Thought it would be late October but apparently as of today Coach Joel Diaz stated to me first week of November ... thank you for the support!!!"

Since outpointing Andre Berto to win a world title in April 2011 in a fight of the year candidate, Ortiz is winless. Floyd Mayweather knocked him out in the fourth round of his first defense later in 2011. In 2012, he suffered a massive upset -- a ninth-round knockout loss to Josesito Lopez, who badly broke his jaw. Ortiz, recovering from jaw surgery, didn’t fight again until January, when he got knocked out in the second round by former titlist Luis Collazo.

He has spent much of his time away from the ring partaking in other activities. For example, he was a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" and is one of the stars of the film "The Expendables 3."

Whom Ortiz will fight and when specifically he will fight is unclear.

Andre Berto back in action

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
Andre Berto and Jesus Soto KarassRonald Martinez/Golden Boy/Getty ImagesAndre Berto returns to the ring for the first time since a tough loss to Jesus Soto Karass last year.

After 14 months out of action because of a seriously injured right shoulder, former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto is ready to fight again.

On July 27, 2013, Berto tore a tendon in his shoulder during the second round of a fight with Jesus Soto Karass in San Antonio. Berto showed immense toughness by fighting with the injury into the 12th round, when he finally got knocked out in the all-action fight.

The loss was Berto’s third in four fights. Surgery and rehab followed. Surely some self-doubt did, also.

But Berto (28-3, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida, gets back in the ring against Philadelphia’s Steve Upsher Chambers (24-3-1, 6 KOs) for a scheduled 10-round fight at a maximum weight of 149 pounds on Saturday night (Showtime, 9:30 ET/PT) in the opening bout of a tripleheader from U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati.

Former three-division titlist Adrien Broner headlines the card in his hometown in a junior welterweight bout against Emanuel Taylor with junior welterweight slugger Lucas Matthysse facing Roberto Ortiz in the co-feature.

Berto finishes training camp with Virgil Hunter in Oakland, California, on Monday and heads to Cincinnati on Tuesday.

"The shoulder is feeling good and we've had a tremendous camp,” Berto said. “I was able to get out here really early for this fight and train with all the great champions in our gym. I'm just excited to get back under the lights and perform on Sept. 6," Berto said.

Berto trained alongside fighters such as Andre Ward, Abner Mares, Alfredo Angulo and Amir Khan.

Besides the three fights on Showtime, preliminary fights from the card will air on Showtime Extreme (7 ET/PT).

The two scheduled 10-round fights set to air on Showtime Extreme are:

• Junior welterweight Michael Perez (20-1-2, 10 KOs) of Newark, New Jersey, against South Carolina's Jared Robinson (15-1, 7 KOs).

• Three-time U.S. Olympian Rau'shee Warren (11-0, 3 KOs), who will be fighting in his hometown for the first time as a professional, taking on Jose Luis Araiza (34-8-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico in a bantamweight match.

In untelevised bouts, two of Warren’s 2012 U.S. Olympic teammates will fight: Cleveland middleweight Terrell Gausha (11-0, 6 KOs) and New York lightweight Jamel Herring (8-0, 5 KOs), who are both in scheduled eight-round bouts.
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto's opponent is set for his Sept. 6 ring return in Cincinnati. Berto, coming back from a 14-month injury-related layoff, will face Steve Upsher Chambers in a 10-rounder at a maximum weight of 149 pounds. The fight will open a Showtime tripleheader that also includes junior welterweight Adrien Broner facing Emanuel Taylor in the main event and junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse against Roberto Ortiz in the co-feature.

Berto (28-3, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida, who turns 31 the day after the fight, is trying to end a two-fight losing streak and return from major shoulder surgery to repair an injury he suffered in a 12th-round knockout loss to Jesus Soto Karass in July 2013. Upsher Chambers (24-3-1, 6 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, has also lost two fights in a row, an eight-round decision to former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo (whom Berto holds a close win against) and a fourth-round knockout to prospect Eddie Gomez.

• Former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco (30-3-1, 23 KOs), now campaigning at a junior welterweight, returns to action against Lanardo Tyner (31-10-2, 20 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder on Saturday night (beIN Sports Espanol, 11 ET) in Tecate, Mexico. DeMarco, 28, of Mexico, is looking for his third win in a row since losing his lightweight belt by eighth-round knockout to Adrien Broner in November 2012. Tyner, 39, of Detroit, took the fight on just a few days' notice. He has lost two fights in a row, both by decision.

• Last Saturday's Showtime card was not a hit with viewers. The tripleheader from Carson, California, averaged just 514,000 viewers, down 11 percent from the network's average audience for the year (578,000) for "Showtime Championship Boxing." Kell Brook's decision against Shawn Porter to win a welterweight title in the main event averaged 661,000 viewers, 26 percent below Porter's last fight in April (also on Showtime). That bout, against Paulie Malignaggi, averaged 897,000 viewers. Anthony Dirrell's decision over Sakio Bika to win a super middleweight title in a rematch in the co-feature averaged 574,000 viewers, which was up 29 percent from the 446,000 viewers drawn by their December first fight on Showtime. The opener between lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa Jr. and Daniel Estrada averaged 341,000 viewers, down 37 percent from the 545,000 viewers Figueroa's last fight on Showtime, against Jerry Belmontes, drew in April.
Jesus Soto Karass, Andre Berto AP Photo/Darren AbateWelterweight Andre Berto, left, looks to snap a two-fight losing skid in his Sept. 6 return.
Last July 27, former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto suffered a torn tendon in his right shoulder during the second round of a fight with Jesus Soto Karass in San Antonio.

Berto continued to fight with the injury, eventually getting knocked out in the 12th round of an action-packed fight. It was Berto's third defeat in four fights and sent him into a long layoff because he had surgery to repair the serious injury.

Now, a year later, Berto's shoulder is healthy and he is preparing for his return, which will take place Sept. 6 at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati against an opponent to be named. The fight will open a Showtime tripleheader that also includes two junior welterweight fights, hometown draw Adrien Broner against Emanuel Taylor and Lucas Matthysse against Roberto Ortiz.

"It's hard to believe that it has been a year since my surgery. The last 12 months have definitely been hard, but I have learned a lot about myself and the sport since my last fight," Berto said. "Dealing with an injury like this has helped me strengthen different elements of my game and I can't wait to put all of that in to play on Sept. 6."

Berto (28-3, 22 KOs), 30, of Winter Haven, Florida, has been training with Virgil Hunter in Oakland, Calif., and looking to stop a two-fight losing streak.

The fight will be Berto's second since beginning to train with Hunter, who also trains fighters such as super middleweight champion Andre Ward, Amir Khan, Alfredo Angulo and Abner Mares.

"Virgil and I have been working consistently since I was cleared to start boxing training early this year," Berto said. "Training with him is like being in a classroom and I'm excited to share the benefits of those lessons in Cincinnati."

Berto cleared for light sparring

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
Jesus Soto Karass, Andre Berto AP Photo/Darren AbateAndre Berto, left, is recovering from an injured shoulder suffered against Jesus Soto Karass.
Former two-time welterweight titleholder Andre Berto, recovering from a torn right shoulder tendon, has received clearance to begin light sparring following his August surgery.

Berto returned to Dr. Neal ElAttrache's office for a follow-up appointment on Monday, during which the surgeon also said that Berto could begin full contact sparring in mid-April.

The 30-year-old Berto (28-3, 22 KOs) suffered the injury during the second round of a 12th-round knockout loss in a tremendous battle with Jesus Soto Karass in July in San Antonio. With his shoulder torn, Berto fought most of the fight using primarily his left hand. Even with the injury, Berto managed to knock Soto Karass down in the 11th round before Soto Karass dropped Berto and stopped him in the 12th.

Berto had surgery on Aug. 14, 2013 and has done his rehabilitation in Los Angeles and San Francisco -- to be close to trainer Virgil Hunter -- over the past seven months.

"These last seven months and the whole rehab process haven't been easy at all, but it was worth it to finally be able to get back in the ring," Berto said. "I'm refocusing all my energy on coming back at 100 percent and showing all of my fans the best Andre Berto both mentally and physically. I have learned a lot during this time off and everyone is going to see all of that in my next fight."

Berto hopes to be back in the ring in July.

"Going through the beginning of rehab I was angry. I was really bitter thinking 'why,' and learning how to use my arm all over again," Berto said. "There were a lot of lonely nights on the couch with that sling on not hearing that phone ring from anybody outside of my family. Me, just wondering if my gift has been taken away from me.

"I have a refreshed spirit now because that was one of the toughest things I ever had to go through. I feel that I am back for a reason and have a lot more to fight for."

Berto returns to training

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
Soto KarassTom Casino/ShowtimeWith injuries and a recent loss to Jesus Soto Karass behind him, Andre Berto is ready to return.
Former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto is gearing up for a summer return to the ring.

Berto was cleared by his doctor in mid-January to resume training and returned to trainer Virgil Hunter's Oakland, Calif., gym on Sunday to begin working out.

The 30-year-old Berto (28-3, 22 KOs) got knocked out in the 12th round of his last fight, a brutal battle with Jesus Soto Karass in July in San Antonio. Berto fought most of the fight with a torn shoulder tendon in his right arm. He injured it in the second round and used primarily his left hand for the rest of the fight.

Despite managing to knock Soto Karass down in the 11th round, Berto was dropped and stopped by Soto Karass in the 12th.

Berto is planning a summer return, although there is no specific date or opponent lined up.

During Berto's surgery last summer, his ruptured subscapularis tendon was repaired. The doctor discovered during the procedure that Berto had completely torn the tendon from top to bottom. Berto also suffered a torn biceps in 2012 that required surgery.

Berto (28-3, 22 KOs), 30, of Winter Haven, Fla., has lost three of his last four fights, but his bouts with Victor Ortiz, Soto Karass and a November 2012 decision loss to Robert Guerrero were all fight of the year contenders.

He went idle for 14 months in 2011 and 2012 after testing positive for a steroid in a random drug test a month before he was supposed to face Ortiz in a much-anticipated rematch in 2012. Ortiz outpointed Berto in April 2011 in an all-action brawl to end Berto's first title reign.

Berto continues efforts in Haiti

December, 24, 2013
One thing you can say about former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto is that he hasn't forgotten his family's roots.

Although Berto was born in the United States, he closely identifies with his parents' home country of Haiti, which he represented in the 2004 Olympics.

After the massive earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 -- a disaster that killed several members of Berto's extended family and also prompted him to cancel a fight with Shane Mosley -- Berto visited the island nation in the aftermath and became heavily involved in disaster relief efforts, both in terms of money and his time, making several trips there to help.

Last week, Berto returned to Haiti to support the ongoing relief efforts as he joined his partners at Project Medishare to raise funds for Hospital Bernard Mevs in Port Au Prince, the capital city.

The Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare is the only trauma, critical care and rehabilitation hospital in Haiti. Responsible for providing lifesaving care, the hospital treats upwards of 350 patients a day, even though the demand is greater. Help is available at the facility regardless of a patient's ability to pay.

Berto spent last Friday at the hospital, handing out Christmas presents and visiting the kids at the facility.

"Spending time with these kids and giving them something to smile about was the perfect way to start my holiday," Berto said. "Making the people around me happy is better than any Christmas present I could get."

Berto also was involved in a fundraiser for the hospital and met with Haitian President Michael Martelly after arriving there on Thursday, according to Berto's publicist.

Berto (28-3, 22 KOs), out of action for most of 2012 because of a positive steroid test that forced the cancelation of a rematch with Victor Ortiz, has lost two fights in row.

He seriously injured his right shoulder in his most recent fight, a 12th-round stoppage loss to Jesus Soto Karass in July. Berto had surgery on the shoulder, which he continues to rehab. He hopes to begin training again in early 2014.

Collazo headlines Labor Day card

August, 14, 2013
After the Labor Day BBQ you can settle in and watch live boxing.

That’s because former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo will face Alan Sanchez in the scheduled 10-round main event on Sept. 2 (Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes, 9 p.m. ET) at the Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio, Texas, Golden Boy Promotions announced.

The card is the second installment of the company’s new twice-monthly Monday night “Golden Boy Live” series.

In the co-feature, San Antonio's Raul Martinez squares off with Mexico's Daniel Quevedo in an eight-round junior featherweight fight.

Although Collazo (33-5, 17 KOs), a 32-year-old southpaw from New York, has lost his three highest-profile fights, decisions to Ricky Hatton (a very debatable one), Shane Mosley and Andre Berto (in a tremendous action fight), he has won his past two fights and is one of a number of name welterweights in Golden Boy’s deep stable. A win against Sanchez (12-2-1, 6 KOs), 22, of Fairfield, Calif., who is riding a seven-fight winning streak, could propel him into another high-profile bout.

Martinez (29-3, 17 KOs), 31, has come up short in two world title fights, a fourth-round knockout to Nonito Donaire in a 2009 flyweight title bout and a sixth-round technical decision to Rodrigo Guerrero in a 2011 junior bantamweight title fight. Martinez is also coming off a four-round decision loss to sub-.500 Omar Gonzalez in April, so this is a must-win for him if he has any prayer of contending again. Quevedo (13-13-3, 8 KOs), 29, is 0-2-1 in his past three fights.

Berto picks Hunter as trainer

June, 17, 2013
Former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto has hired a new trainer -- 2011 trainer of the year Virgil Hunter -- and has been working out with him at his Oakland, Calif.-area gym for the past few weeks.

"I know I have all the talent in world. Now it's time to fine-tune the skill set," Berto told ESPN.com. "Virg is someone I've known since I was a kid, along with a few other coaches I went to interview. I wanted stick with familiar faces that I've had that relationship with and that have watched me from the amateur system [until] now. We're testing things out with this fight and seeing where things go. As of right now, I've been having a great camp. I am excited."

Berto's first fight with Hunter will come July 27 in the main event of a Showtime-televised card at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Berto (28-2, 22 KOs) will face battle-tested veteran Jesus Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KOs).

Berto will try to rebound from a clear decision loss in November in an interim title bout against Robert Guerrero, who dropped him twice in a fairly dominant performance. That fight came after Berto had been out of the ring for 14 months, largely because of a failed random prefight drug test in the lead-up to a rematch with Victor Ortiz.

The loss to Guerrero was Berto's second defeat in his past three fights, including a decision loss that cost him his world title against Ortiz in April 2011 (although he bounced back and won a belt against Jan Zaveck). After the loss to Guerrero, Berto parted ways with career-long trainer Tony Morgan. They had been together for nearly 20 years, including Berto's amateur career that culminated with a berth on the 2004 Haitian Olympic team.

There was chaos in Berto's corner during his losses, and it was obvious that a change had to be made -- not to mention the fact that Berto, 29, needs to improve defensively.

Berto hopes that Hunter will be the man to help him. The fighter said that before hiring Hunter he got the blessing from the trainer's main client, super middleweight champion Andre Ward.

"I had to give my good friend Dre Ward a call, and he also gave me a lot of input and direction," Berto said. "He's one that loves his privacy. But he also gave me his blessing with open arms. We've known each other since our teenage years, so it feels great joining the camp. I am in the Bay Area now training with Virg. Actually, I made the decision about a month ago."

GBP working on Garcia-Matthysse

June, 11, 2013
Lucas Matthysse and Danny GarciaGetty ImagesLucas Matthysse and Danny Garcia have a new date for their promotional tour in the U.S.

Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer is awfully busy juggling a bunch of fights that are coming up, including the big one, Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez on Sept. 14. But there are a lot of other fights to get done also, undercards to load up and Showtime dates to fill.

Schaefer, who has been in Mexico on business, told ESPN.com that he and Al Haymon, Mayweather’s adviser and manager to many of Golden Boy’s fighters, plan to sit down in the coming days when they are both back in Los Angeles to go over a host of issues. Among them: ironing out the Mayweather-Alvarez Showtime PPV undercard and trying to finalize a Sept. 7 fight between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse (both Haymon clients) for junior welterweight supremacy.

Here’s an update from Schaefer on a variety of things he’s working on:

• Schaefer said his main focus is getting Garcia-Matthysse done.

“That’s what I’m working on this week,” he said. “I’d like to have the August and September schedules all done by the end of the week. I need to sit down with Al though and figure everything out.”

Schaefer said while some have been skeptical that Haymon would go through with Garcia-Matthysse, he is not.

“Al realizes that having all these fighters means they will sometimes have to fight each other,” Schaefer said. “Danny Garcia has never turned down anybody. And Matthysse? This is the fight he’s been waiting for. The fighters want it and the adviser is on board. I just have to finalize the money and the site. But I think we will get this done.”

• Former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz, healed from his broken jaw after a knockout loss to Josesito Lopez last June, is expected back in action either late this summer or in the fall. Schaefer said one fight he is considering trying to make is Ortiz against Shane Mosley, who is coming off a desperately needed win against Pablo Cesar Cano on May 18 after exiting retirement.

This is not a fight I am a fan of, especially considering all of the top guys Schaefer could match Ortiz with. For example, I love the idea of an Ortiz fight against Robert Guerrero, a fight Guerrero also wants. Ortiz (two losses in a row) and Guerrero are both coming off defeats, but it would definitely be a fan-friendly fight with the winner putting himself back on track.

With regard to an Ortiz-Mosley fight, Schaefer said, “I would like to see it. Both guys have a lot to prove if they want to fight for a title again. I ask people, ‘Who do you think wins?’ And the response is split. That makes it an interesting fight to me.”

• Golden Boy recently won the purse bid for the mandatory fight between junior featherweight titlist Victor Terrazas and Leo Santa Cruz and needs to schedule the bout. Schaefer said it could wind up on the Mayweather-Alvarez pay-per-view. But so, too, could featherweight titlist Abner Mares’ next fight.

“It could be Mares against [former titlist] Jhonny Gonzalez,” Schaefer said. “Gonzalez would love to fight for the title and you know how Abner is. He’s never worried about fighting anybody.”

There is also the possibility, Schaefer said, of Mares and Santa Cruz not appearing on the PPV undercard and instead having their next fights in Mexico, possibly on the same card. It is also possible that one will be on the PPV and one will fight in Mexico.

• With Marcos Maidana defeating Josesito Lopez last Saturday in a barnburner, Schaefer said Maidana is in line for two potential fights. One would be a match with Andre Berto should Berto defeat Jesus Soto Karass on July 27 in San Antonio in the main event of a Showtime tripleheader. The other could be a shot at the winner of the June 22 fight between welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner. Maidana could shadowbox and I’ll be watching, so either fight sounds good to me, but I love Maidana-Berto. Can you say fight of the year?

“Maidana-Berto, Maidana with the Paulie-Broner winner, both are great fights,” Schaefer said. “We have so many guys at 140 and 147 you can mix and match any of these guys. It’s insane.”

• Schaefer said in addition to the Sept. 7 and Sept. 14 cards, he will also have a major card on either Aug. 24 or Aug. 31.

Berto wants a shot at Mayweather

May, 31, 2013
Andre Berto and Robert GuerreroAP Photo/Jae C. HongBy losing to Robert Guerrero last year, Andre Berto, left, missed his second chance to face Floyd Mayweather.

Like every fighter in and around the welterweight division, former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto hopes to someday match his skills against pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and cash that fat check that would go with such a big fight.

Berto, however, has twice seen the prospect of that fight slip through his fingers. He lost a decision, and his first title, to Victor Ortiz in 2011 and watched Ortiz move on to face Mayweather in his next fight. In November, Berto suffered his only other professional defeat, a decision at the hands of interim titlist Robert Guerrero, and then Guerrero too moved on to face Mayweather on May 4.

Frankly, Berto is sick of it. He knows that some boxing fans have made him a punch line about how all you have to do in order to get Mayweather is beat Berto.

“For sure, I’m sick and tired of that, but all I can do is bite down and go get it,” Berto told ESPN.com on Thursday. “Everything happens for a reason, but it’s frustrating. I’m a prideful guy and people say that about me, but I have to look at it a different type of way.

“I look at it like I’m the next thing to Floyd, so they know if they can beat me, they can face the best. That’s how I look at it, but it’s enough of that. Two times it happened, and there won’t be a third.

"Enough of that s---. But Floyd is being smart. He’s like, ‘If you can beat Berto, you can fight me.' They know I have comparable speed to Mayweather. They know I have power. But enough of that. It’s time to handle my business, and I think in due time everything will pan out.”

Berto (28-2, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Fla., but now living in Los Angeles, was in San Antonio on Thursday afternoon at a news conference to formally announce a July 27 card at the AT&T Center. Berto will headline the Showtime-televised tripleheader against Jesus Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KOs) of Mexico.

The fight will be Berto’s first since Guerrero dropped him twice and swelled up both of his eyes, and he hopes to get back on track against a rugged opponent.

“Soto Karass is a good fighter. I've seen his fights,” Berto said. “There's nothing too spectacular about him, but he does have that tough Mexican fighting style.”

Said Soto Karass: “I have a great test ahead of me. I have followed Andre Berto's career very closely. When he was a world champion, I was hoping I was going to get to fight him someday. I wasn't ready for him then, but now that I got offered the fight, I know I'm ready.”

It’s pretty much a must-win fight, especially for Berto, if he has any prayer of landing the big one.

"This is little bit of a crossroads fight for both Berto and Soto Karass,” Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez said. “The winner is going to go on to bigger and better things, and whoever loses is going to have to take a hard look at their career.”

Berto, who has not revealed whom his new trainer will be after parting ways with longtime trainer Tony Morgan following the loss to Guerrero, hope to take out Soto Karass and move a step closer to an eventual Mayweather fight. That is a fight that could be quite easy to make considering that both fighters are managed by Al Haymon and both work closely with Golden Boy.

“I always want to make it a spectacular fight, make it look good,” Berto said of the July 27 bout. “People have to understand you can come back from a loss and put on a tremendous performance and you’re right back in the running for a megafight, and I have that style people want to see.

“I’ll handle Soto Karass and then go again later this year. And I may be seeing Floyd next year, but all of our focus is on Soto Karass right now.”

Also on the Showtime tripleheader, all-action Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17 KOs), who is from Weslaco, Texas, but has a growing San Antonio fan base, will face Japan’s Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16 KOs) for a vacant interim lightweight title and Argentina’s Diego Chaves (22-0, 18 KOs) defends his interim welterweight belt against Keith Thurman (20-0, 18 KOs), of Clearwater, Fla., in a matchup of outstanding punchers.
Miguel CottoGerardo Mora/Getty ImagesMiguel Cotto is planning a return to the ring in September. Now he just needs an opponent.
With the news this week that Golden Boy has put Sept. 28 on hold at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the possible return of Miguel Cotto, it got me thinking -- if Cotto indeed fights, who should he face?

Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs), a former junior middleweight, welterweight and junior welterweight titleholder, will be coming off back-to-back decision losses in competitive and crowd-pleasing fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout, and he'll be fighting for the first time since the Trout fight in December.

Cotto may not be what he was when he was at his wrecking-machine best, but he remains an excellent fighter who has never given anything less than 100 percent and been one of boxing’s biggest attractions for a reason -- he’s always in a good fight.

Because he works closely with Golden Boy Promotions it means there are a plethora of quality and interesting opponents for him. So here’s a look at some of the opponents I think might be possible, taking into account that he won’t be facing a Top Rank fighter and that a fight with junior middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez is unlikely because: (A) Alvarez may be facing Mayweather on Sept. 14 on Showtime PPV; (B) If Mayweather fight on Sept. 14, Showtime would not do PPV events two weeks apart and certainly if there’s even an Alvarez-Cotto fight it is a major PPV event; (C) Alvarez-Cotto almost certainly would take place in Las Vegas, not New York.

• Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs): This is my pick as the fight I’d like to see most other than Alvarez. Like Cotto, Ortiz, a former welterweight titlist, is also coming off back-to-back losses, stoppages against Mayweather and Josesito Lopez, against whom he suffered a severely broken jaw last June. While recovering from the jaw injury, Ortiz did a stint on “Dancing With the Stars” but is due back in the ring, most likely in September. So the schedules match. He also can certainly handle the move up to 154 pounds and a fight with Cotto would be nothing less than exciting. No doubt there would be drama too, because both men are typically in dramatic fights. It’s a can’t miss-action fight.

• Alfredo Angulo (22-2, 18 KOs): Cotto-Angulo could not possibly miss as an exciting action fight. It would also be an authentic Puerto Rico versus Mexico rivalry fight, which always generates heat. Angulo, although dangerous because of his power, is also one-dimensional enough that Cotto would be the favorite. Angulo, of course, would have to beat Erislandy Lara on June 8, and Angulo is the clear underdog in that fight. If Lara wins, I doubt Cotto would want to tangle with Lara’s difficult technical style, especially without a world title at stake.

• ”Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin (29-0, 21 KOs): There’s been quiet word that Cotto might want to move up to middleweight and see what he can do. Quillin holds a title, is one of boxing’s most exciting and charismatic fighters and looking for the kind of fight to help him break out. Cotto would be a big underdog, but he has always taken on big challenges so maybe he would want to take a shot. Quillin, I’m certain, would take the fight in two seconds. It would also probably sell well given Cotto’s enormous New York/Puerto Rican fanbase combined with the fact that Quillin is a New Yorker. This fight intrigues me.

• Robert Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KOs): Sure, he was schooled by Mayweather on May 4 but so what? Guerrero is always up for fighting the best, usually involved in good fights and I think he and Cotto would be a good one. If Guerrero gets the fight, he just needs to make sure of one thing when he heads to New York -- leave the gun at home this time.

• Andre Berto (28-2, 22 KOs): The former welterweight titlist got beat up by Guerrero in a November decision loss in a great fight so he would have to beat Jesus Soto Karass, whom he meets June 27, to even have a prayer of landing the fight, although the turnaround might be a little quick, making him an unlikely foe. But if Berto looks OK against Soto Karass, why not a Cotto fight? Two big names, two action styles. Count me in.

• Ishe Smith (25-5, 11 KOs): If Cotto wants to try to pick up another 154 belt, Smith is out there. He would have to get past Carlos Molina on July 19, and coming back on Sept. 28 might be a little bit of a quick turnaround, but anything is possible. Smith is promoted by Mayweather’s company, which works closely with Golden Boy so from that point of view it is a fight that could be made. Not the best fight in the world, but not out of the realm of possibility in my view.

• Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (32-5, 19 KOs): He lost his belt to Smith in February, but it was competitive. If Cotto is looking to ease back into things and take a little bit of a lesser fight this one sticks out like a sore thumb. The 40-year-old Bundrage will come to fight but Cotto would be the favorite to win and then move into something bigger.

Thurman-Zaveck: youth vs. wisdom

March, 7, 2013
The fight between welterweight prospect Keith Thurman and former titleholder Jan Zaveck is the epitome of a crossroads fight. They meet in the co-feature of the Tavoris Cloud-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight title fight Saturday night (HBO, 9:30 ET/PT) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

[+] EnlargeKeith Thurman
Rich Kane/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsKeith Thurman has been heavily hyped, but we'll know more after he jumps up in competition Saturday.
The undefeated Thurman (19-0, 18 KOs) is the 24-year-old hot up-and-comer who has gotten a lot of hype while building his record against softies. The Clearwater, Fla., product, who grew up in the gym sparring with the likes of Winky Wright and Jeff Lacy, is taking a decent step up in competition as he looks to put a solid name on his résumé in Zaveck.

"I've been patiently waiting for my time," said Thurman, who has a crowd-pleasing style and an appealing personality. "That time is [Saturday], and I'm going to go through Zaveck and then get my title shot. This is my year, no question about it -- and I'm going to let the world know it."

The 36-year-old Zaveck (32-2, 18 KOs), the only fighter from Slovenia to have won a world title, is two fights removed from losing his belt by fifth-round stoppage (because of a badly swollen eye) to Andre Berto in September 2011. Zaveck, who was out of action for awhile after the fight because of an elbow injury, won his only fight since and is aiming to get back on top.

"I miss having a championship belt around my waist, and this is the next step to getting it back," said Zaveck, who won a belt in 2009 and made three successful defenses before running into Berto.

"Thurman is a talented young fighter, but my experience will be my ticket to victory. Nobody can stop me on my way back to the world title."

Thurman turned pro in 2007 and had gotten very little exposure -- until he signed with powerful adviser Al Haymon. Then, suddenly, he became a darling of HBO, which allowed him two nationally televised showcase fights last year, a gross mismatch with Orlando Lora (TKO6) followed by a mismatch with faded former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana at junior middleweight (TKO4).

"I'm confident that I can steal rounds by getting inside and throwing punches," Thurman said of the Zaveck fight. "He wants to be champion again, but I want to be a champion too. He is bringing experience, but I am bringing my talent and ability."

The fight will be Thurman's first scheduled 12-round bout (he has had only two previous scheduled 10-rounders). Of course, he usually ends his fights by knockout, but Thurman said he is prepared to go 12 if need be.

"Zaveck has gone 12 rounds many times in his career," Thurman said. "This is [the only time] I have been required to go 12 rounds, but I know I am prepared. I am going to outclass him. Zaveck is a tough guy. He has never been knocked down, and I love putting people to sleep. Knowing that he has never been knocked down is a true test for me."

Zaveck said he isn't worried about Thurman's youth or power.

"There have been many times that I've been stuck in the ring with bigger, stronger guys and in the end I came out victorious," he said. "I believe Saturday night is going to be the same way. I put in the work to hand Keith Thurman his first loss. Experience means everything, and I know I am prepared."

Andre Berto fires trainer

February, 27, 2013
Andre Berto and Tony MorganAP Photo/Jae C. HongAndre Berto is leaving his career-long trainer Tony Morgan after two loses in his last three fights.

The alarming thing about seeing former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto losing two of his last three fights – to Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz -- was his inability to adjust to his opponents in those defeats, not to mention the disarray in his corner when thing got rough.

Berto, perhaps realizing these were issues, announced Wednesday that has fired career-long trainer Tony Morgan.

They had been together for nearly 20 years, including Berto’s amateur career that culminated with a berth on the 2004 Haitian Olympic team.

Berto, 29, said it was a difficult decision to part ways with Morgan.

"Tony and I had a great ride together from the amateurs to two professional world championships, and he will always be a very important person in my life," Berto said in a statement. “He taught me a lot and I am grateful to him for that, but this is a decision I had to make at this point in my career.”

Berto lost his welterweight belt to Ortiz in 2011 in a brutal distance fight in which both guys were knocked down twice. He rebounded in his next fight to stop Jan Zaveck in the fifth round in September 2011 to win another belt but vacated it in order to make a rematch with Ortiz instead of fighting a mandatory fight that nobody was interested in. However, Berto tested positive for a steroid in a random drug test before the June fight and it was canceled.

Berto eventually was licensed in California and returned in November, but got dropped twice and took a beating in a decision loss to Guerrero.

Berto (28-2, 22 KOs), who does not have a fight scheduled, said he is in the process of selecting a new trainer.

"I'm still in the gym on a regular basis and getting my body in great shape,” said Berto, who is from Winter Haven, Fla., but now living in Los Angeles. “Boxing is the sport that I love and I can't wait to get back in the ring and perform again soon. I want to remind everyone why they love to see me fight. You will see a new and improved Andre Berto here soon.”