July card to feature Berto, Thurman

Former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto and rising welterweight contender Keith Thurman will share a July card on Showtime with Berto facing Jesus Soto Karass and Thurman challenging Diego Chaves for an interim title, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Tuesday.

Schaefer said the fighters have all agreed to terms and he is getting the contracts finalized for the card, which will take place either July 20 or July 27, depending on where the card takes place.

"We are looking at venues. It could be in California or New York or Florida," Schaefer said. "Once we know where are going to have the card, then we can announce the date."

In the main event, Berto (28-2, 22 KOs), 29, will be trying to rebound since getting dropped twice and losing a decision to Robert Guerrero in a November slugfest that was one of the most action-packed bouts of 2012. Guerrero's win over Berto, in which he retained an interim title, paved the way for him to land a shot at pound-for-pound king and welterweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 4.

Berto would have liked to come out on top and be the one challenging Mayweather. Instead, he will settle for facing veteran brawler Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KOs), 30, of Mexico.

"We felt Berto and Soto Karass is an all-action fight," Schaefer said. "I think this is going to be an absolute toe-to-toe battle. Soto Karass is as tough as they get. I can see this fight being all fireworks."

Soto Karass has been in a number of hard-hitting fights, including his last two, an eighth-round knockout loss to Marcos Maidana in an all-action affair in September followed by an upset 10-round decision win against Selcuk Aydin in January.

"I've seen him fight Aydin, I've seen him fight Maidana, I've seen him twice (in losses) against Mike Jones," Berto told ESPN.com. "He's a rugged, tough Mexican fighter that does his thing. He comes straight forward and is ready to work. But I don't care about any of that. I'm ready to go to work.

"I got a lot better skills. I'm going into this fight excited and with a whole new spirit and a whole new team. I went through a lot of obstacles in the fight with Guerrero; two swollen eyes. But I'm a warrior at the end of the day. So that won't stop me. I couldn't see after three rounds but I continued."

Berto's "whole new team" will include a new trainer, whom he did not want to name yet. But he fired career-long trainer Tony Morgan in late February and also has cleaned out the rest of his corner after there was obvious disarray in his corner between rounds of recent fights.

Berto also moved earlier this year from his home in Winter Haven, Fla., to Los Angeles to live and train for a fresh start.

"I've taken a whole new approach," Berto said. "I moved out to L.A., away from my family and away from everything I was familiar with. I put a lot of things in perspective and now I have a new life and new inspiration. I went through a lot after the Guerrero fight, sitting there at my place with ice on my face thinking
about things. It puts everything in perspective.

"As soon as the new year came around, I wanted to do something different. I stuck to my guns and went ahead and made the move and made the changes."

The charismatic Thurman, like Berto, is making the jump from HBO to Showtime in the wake of HBO's decision to discontinue working with Golden Boy. But Thurman (20-0, 18 KOs) got major exposure on HBO in his past three fights with easy wins against Orlando Lora (TKO6), former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana (TKO4) and Jan Zaveck (W12) on March 9.

Now Thurman, 24, of Clearwater, Fla., will challenge Argentina's Chaves (22-0, 18 KOs), who turns 27 on Sunday, for his interim 147-pound title.

Chaves stopped Ismael El Massoudi in the second round in last July to win the interim belt and then stopped Jose Miranda in the second round in September in his first defense.

The fight will be Chaves' second in the United States. All of his others have been in Argentina. But in 2010, Chaves won a six-round decision against Edvan Dos Santos Barros in Las Vegas on a Golden Boy undercard.