By Allan Cerf
Particulars: On Aug. 4 it’s Andre Berto vs. Devon Alexander, welterweights. Premier Boxing Champions at the Nassau Coliseum, New York (Fox).
Background: Casual fans seem unable to forget the mind-boggling $220 million Mayweather made in the debacle with Pacquiao. They know this kind of dough is unprecedented but being occasional fans, they seemed to forget that most fighters need to fight to pay the bills. These are the fighters on countless local and regional cards, making a living in such a dangerous fashion.
Somewhere in the middle are Devon Alexander, 31, and Andre Berto,34, guys with presumably healthy bank accounts (particularly Berto) and a lot of wear and tear on body and brain. Money must be the reason these two fights on – and many hardcore fans would argue that, in terms of interest – they should not. For example, take the recent, splendid heavyweight fights in England. All four (Carlos Takam, Dereck Chisora, Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker) knew that a win would position them to make “a final run at it,” or in Parkers case, maybe several runs.
NOT the case with Alexander and Berto - good fighters with excellent skills whose best days have long since come and gone.
For me there are two roads forward for boxing. Tournaments which, after the best fought the best, crowned a unified cruiserweight champion, Alexander Usyk. And Haymon’s model… which has produced some good bouts, but seems largely a machine designed to churn out low-threat contenders for the super-talents of the sport. But – Haymon is paying more boxers more money, so fair play.
Fighter’s Grades: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)
Andre Berto: B B B+ C+ C B A (Average of all) B (3.0)
Devon Alexander: B B C+ C+ B- B B+ (Average of all) B- (2.8)
Reality Check: Southpaw Alexander seems to have more in the tank than Berto who was hopelessly outclassed by Mayweather in a fight that insulted everyone’s intelligence - and stopped by Shawn Porter. Alexander no longer has the kind of political clout to avoid being jacked as he was against Victor Ortiz, earning a draw in a fight he commanded, but he does have rock solid fundamentals. Berto, who’s done a lot for his native Haiti in his downtime, has been inactive for two years. As a famous boxing doctor told me in 2009 – limiting sparring while fighting regularly is the best prescription. Alexander fought in February.
Fight and Prediction: I just don’t see these guys, who appear friendly, getting angry enough to gun for a KO. Neither are the reincarnation of Homicide Hank, anyway. When, years ago, Bradley viciously butted a prime Alexander, Devon merely complained. He’s lacked that essential mean streak required for great things and I don’t forecast a war. Rather, the taller, more mobile Alexander outpointing Berto. Without question Berto has a better command of angles. In their long-ago primes, I’d lean towards Berto.
Alexander UD Berto, in a good fight.