Dan Rafael: Tony Morgan

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."

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.”