FLOYD MAYWEATHER is always expected to win, no more so than in his next fight. Defeating Manny Pacquiao in May confirmed him as the pre-eminent boxer in the sport. Given his losses to Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz, both of whom Mayweather has handled comprehensively in recent years, Andre Berto would have been a hefty underdog against “Money” at any time, but especially so now.
But Berto insists he has been on course to fight Mayweather for years. “At the end of the day, this fight was supposed to happen two or three times. Situations with me not taking care of myself and not taking opponents seriously caused it to happen. But styles make fights and we’ll see what the boxing fans say September 12,” he said. “I know that I’m still the same guy who people thought could have given Floyd problems a couple of years ago.
“Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero both got fights with Floyd because they beat me. There must be something to that. They said ‘if he did something to Berto, he should get a shot at Floyd.'”
It would be a huge shock if Berto could do anything to derail Mayweather. But he insisted, “From an energy aspect I feel great. It’s my first time in a while coming into a fight with no injuries. This is the healthiest I’ve been since I can remember.
“We’re here. It’s my time to see him. He can have his ‘MayVinci’ code because we put in the work. The whole team is confident. I’m going to do what I do.
“We worked on a lot of different things at camp. I have the speed to keep up with him. I have more power.”
It is hard to see areas where Andre can better him. But he countered, “The thing with Floyd is, most guys he fights aren’t as athletic as he is. But I am… If you come at Floyd fast but don’t have a plan and don’t have good footwork, it’s too easy for him. If you have a guy that’s as athletic as him, it gives him problems.
“There is a lot more to me than just walking guys down. I have speed, I have power, I have a crazy uppercut, I can move to the side. There are a lot of ways I can get it done.”
He can though console himself with the thought that the full weight of expectation is on Mayweather, who has fought his whole professional career to preserve is precious unbeaten record. With retirement looming for Floyd, he couldn’t bear to suffer a first loss. “This is my first time going into a fight without all the pressure on my back. I’ve always been the favorite in every fight. I don’t know what he’s feeling and I don’t really have to care about it,” Berto reasoned. “It’s a different mindset. Coming from where I come from, we always had to defeat the odds. We didn’t have what other people had. We had to work twice as hard for everything. To be noticed. To be seen. Even back then it drove me to be the best that I can be. I wanted everyone to know I was somebody you had to watch.
“I’ve faced these odds my whole life. I was discounted two years ago when I was laying in the hospital. I’m constantly envisioning victory.
“All the hard work we’re putting in, it’ll all pay off fight night. It’s not just for me. I’ve been through doing things for me. I see what’s real now.
“I’ve prepared myself mentally to be in this position. People can say whatever they want. We’re focused.
“This is going to be for everyone who believes in the underdog.”