Boxing’s pound for pound King Floyd Mayweather Jr (48-0, 26 KOS) defends his WBC and WBA Super World Welterweight titles against Andre Berto (30-3, 23 KOS) on Saturday night in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mayweather has proclaimed that this will be his last fight in his glittering career that has spanned nineteen years and seen him become a five division world champion. A victory on Saturday will see him equal the iconic ‘49-0,’ professional record set by heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano.
However fight fans are perhaps treating Mayweather’s swansong with a certain degree of cynicism. Media reports indicate that the pay-per-view figures are extremely low for this fight and a significant number of seats remain unsold in the MGM Grand.
Mayweather was roundly criticised for selecting the unheralded Berto for his next opponent following his victory over Pacquaio in May. Many fans and boxing analysts are predicting this to be a shutout point’s victory for Mayweather in the same vein as the Pacquiao fight.
Mayweather has described his opponent the former WBC welterweight champion and current WBA interim champion Andre Berto as, ‘an exciting fighter.’ A converted southpaw his most effective weapon is his left hook, he is capable of knocking out opponents but he has had problems when he previously stepped up in class.
Berto lost a unanimous points decision in a seesaw battle with Victor Ortiz for the WBC welterweight title in 2011. Berto was down in the first, he dropped Ortiz in the second and both were down in the sixth. Berto subsequently lost a unanimous point’s decision to Robert Guerrero in 2012, a fight in which he was dropped in the first and second rounds. Interestingly, Mayweather has beaten both fighters; he stopped Ortiz in found rounds in 2011 and won a unanimous points decision over Guerrero in 2013.
In addition to those losses to former Mayweather foes Berto was stopped by Jesus Soto Karass in the twelfth round of a bid for the NABF title in July 2013. Reports seem to indicate that Berto’s shoulder created problems for him during that fight. He has subsequently had surgery on it but it raises questions about his current punching power and whether he remains truly an effective force at world level considering he was stopped by a journeyman at domestic level.
This does have the potential to be an exciting fight, if Mayweather elected to stand and trade with Berto but at this stage of his career he is unlikely to deviate from his usual defensive strategy. The gulf in class between both fighters will be immense a strong indicator that perhaps Mayweather chose Berto because he is confident he can dominate him and even drop him to the canvas. Certainly a comprehensive victory over Berto would go some way to addressing the criticism that remains following the Pacquiao fight.
A unanimous points decision seems the most likely result, but if Ortiz can give Berto trouble and Mayweather despatched him in four rounds then there is a possibility that a stoppage could be on the cards.
In support to the main event Britain’s George Groves (21-2, 16 KOS) will make his third bid for a world title by challenging Badou Jack (19-1-1, 12KOS) for his WBC Super-middleweight title. Groves has been on the comeback trail since his back-to-back defeats by Carl Froch in previous world title fights. His opponent Jack, is an orthodox fighter with a good jab but he has sometimes fell short when he has stepped up in class. Jack defeated Anthony Dirrell over twelve rounds to win the title but he had previously been knocked out in one round by underdog Derek Edwards in February 2014. The punch that did the damage in that fight was the overhand right, the same punch that Groves landed to drop Froch to the canvas in their first fight. Groves has a much superior record, is more skilful and is a more effective puncher. Expect it to be third time lucky for Groves with a win by stoppage.
Also in action on Saturday, is British heavyweight Anthony Joshua (13-0, 13 KOs) who is taking on Scotland’s Gary Cornish (21-0, 12 KOs) for the vacant Commonwealth title at the O2 Arena, London. On paper this would appear a significant test for Joshua, Cornish stands at 6’7 and carries an undefeated record. However on closer inspection it appears Cornish has fought a significant number of journeymen. His height may trouble Joshua but Cornish tends to fight with his guard low and his slow footwork is a concern. Joshua needs more ring experience so this fight may extend past the second round but expect him to stop Cornish inside the distance.
Also on the same bill, Anthony Joshua’s domestic rival Dillian Whyte (15-0, 13 KOs) takes on American Brian Minto (41-9, 26 KOs). Journeyman Minto is a former Heavyweight Prizefighter participant having lost in the semi-finals to eventual winner Michael Sprott in November 2013. Whyte is younger, fresher and stronger. Expect Whyte to win inside the distance and to remain on collision course with Joshua.