MEXICO -- It won't be easy for Andre Berto to spring a surprise against Floyd Mayweather on Saturday that would surpass what James "Buster" Douglas achieved against Mike Tyson in 1990, but it would certainly be significant enough for it to go down in boxing history.
Berto is a huge underdog. Mayweather is the clear favorite at odds of up to 1/30 which means that you need to bet $3,000 to win just $100, while a Beto victory pays up to $1,200 per hundred wagered, according to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
When Douglas and Tyson stepped into the ring at the Tokyo Dome, "Iron" Mike the was favorite to win at odds of up to 1/42 but "Buster" knocked him out in the 10th round to end his 37-fight unbeaten run. Douglas also walked away with three heavyweight belts.
"The problem with this fight is the decision that was made, the opponent that was chosen, people were never going to be happy after the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight," said WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán. "For me, a Berto win wouldn't be such a big surprise, not like Tyson-Douglas. Berto is a proven fighter, he's had a good career, he's been world champion, I think it will be an interesting fight."
At the time, what Douglas achieved was epic. Only four of Tyson's 37 victims had gone the distance and he'd enjoyed convincing victories over Trevor Berbick, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks and Frank Bruno. Nobody, nobody at all, thought he would lose that night, at 24 years of age, in the prime of his career.
In Mayweather, Berto will face a 38-year old, perhaps the most intelligent fighter of all time, a fighter who has taken some punches, who has seen his abilities diminish and has had to rely on his excellent defense in order to escape further punishment.
Even if Berto secures a clear victory, it could well be considered one of the biggest surprises of all time, perhaps the second biggest, because what the American Douglas achieved that morning in Tokyo was a milestone not only in the history of boxing, but of sport itself.
And if Berto does win, there will surely be more than one person who will thank him for keeping Rocky Marciano's record intact.