LAS VEGAS — Take a walk up and down the Las Vegas strip this week and you will do well to find anybody who is predicting a defeat for Floyd Mayweather. The pound-for-pound No.1 has been accused of taking an easy fight, for what he says will be his last, and he is widely expected to take care of Andre Berto with ease. So where will the fight be won – and does Berto have a chance?
After the first Marcos Maidana fight, Mayweather was accused of 'slowing down' and it was suggested that his usually quicksilver feet were giving up on him, which allowed his Argentine opponent to land notably more punches than expected. But his natural speed was evident again in the rematch and certainly against Manny Pacquiao. Andre Berto, meanwhile, is not noted for his foot speed but he has been working with pilates specialist Katie Ybarra during camp and the increased flexibility in his ankles and feet will quicken him up. But Berto will have to be faster than ever if he hopes to get his hands on Mayweather.
It has been predicted that Berto's compact, almost tight, upright stance will play into Mayweather's hands. Although the undefeated 36-year-old does not exploit angles like he used to do, his punches will still arrow in from all directions so it will be down to Berto to loosen up his upper body more than ever. Again, the Pilates should help with that but his previous shoulder injuries might prevent him from displaying enough lateral movement to evade what's coming. On the other hand, expect Mayweather to be as slick as ever from the hips.
Arguably the only department in which Berto, who calls himself The Beast, trumps Mayweather is one-punch power. Many of Mayweather's stoppages throughout his career have come via technical decision, with his opponent's corner pulling their guy out to stop a sustained beating, rather than being put away with a single shot. Berto, in contrast can really punch and he has, predictability, promised to win by knock-out. Of course it is one thing being able to punch hard and another thing being able to punch Floyd Mayweather hard. And, although he might not pack dynamite like some others, the champion's impeccably timed trademark counter right-hand can do serious damage.
Berto's trainer, Virgil Hunter, stole the show at the final press conference this week with a memorable monologue during which he told the gathered crowd to expect fireworks. He suggested that, deep down, both guys remain genuine street kids at heart so putting them in the ring together can only produce a good, old-fashioned tear-up. Such an outcome will play into Berto's hands and close the gap between the pair. A master-boxer like Mayweather is best when boxing while the Beast might just have a chance if he can turn it into a street fight.
But perhaps Berto's best chance of victory is if something truly mad happens. Think the 'fan man' who flew into the ropes during Bowe-Holyfield in 1993, or perhaps a plague of locusts. In reality the two boxers are streets apart and Berto may need some sort of divine intervention. Maybe Mayweather will break an ankle or the MGM Grand's roof might fall in. You never know, Mayweather might forget his gumshield and be forced to forfeit the fight handing Berto the belts via walkover. In reality, it's more likely than him winning on points.
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