Andre Berto - Jesús Soto Karass
Andre Berto is 28-2 with 22 knockouts. He has power, athleticism, just the right amount of defense to make fights unpredictable and has won a world title. But why, oh why then is this Saturday’s fight against Jesús Soto Karass [27-8-3 17 KO] a major crossroads fight for Berto?
The truth, is that despite obvious physical gifts, Berto has always been found wanting when asked to step up. There are many people in boxing who claim Berto’s record is padded, especially in the opening two thirds of his career. Fair point. The biggest wins can probably be classed against Luis Collazo and Juan Urango. There are those who say he was spoiled by large paydays against no-name fighters (seven figures against Carlos Quintana anyone?) And then when asked to fight someone of substance, such as Victor Ortiz, or worse still Robert Guerrero (who stepped up two weight classes), Berto was outhustled, outfought and defeated.
For all intents and purposes, or at least on paper, Berto should emerge victorious over Karass. But which Berto turns up is another question. Conditioning has always been an issue too. Against Karass, Berto in theory just needs to outlast his opponent who is no more than a gatekeeper and a tough-looking opponent for resumes — the kind of fighter Berto should have been fighting earlier in career perhaps?
Berto has the ability to make incredibly exciting fights. It’s just that he tends to lose them. On Saturday he needs to turn that around if he’s going to take his career to the level that his paycheck has often been at.
Keith Thurman - Diego Chaves
If there is one fight to keep an eye on this weekend it’s this one. Someone is going to tumble and not get up. Both guys trade in knockouts and that’s pretty much it. Thurman [20-0 18 KO] is a rising welterweight contender, who has already started making a name for himself with highlight reel knockouts. He dispatched Carlos Quintana, as well as Orlando Lora and was more than impressive when he had to step up against Jan Zaveck, even if that fight went the distance.
As for Chaves [22-0 18 KO], he’s one of what seems like an endless supply of feisty Argentines, intent on ending fights within the distance. In fact, 16 of his 22 career bouts have gone fewer than three rounds. Chaves’ interim title belt is on the line on Saturday, but so is the chance of a significant boost for either guys in the welterweight standings. Both guys are marketable but only one will more than likely be left standing. Watch this space.
Igor Guryashkin is a freelance journalist whose extensive work on combat sports has been featured in ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He splits his time between New York and Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @IGuryashkinESPN.