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.