After lengthy layoffs, Porter and Berto get it on Saturday
By BARRY WILNER, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Both Shawn Porter and Andre Berto once owned welterweight titles. The winner of Saturday night’s fight at Barclays Center figures to be in position for another shot at a belt.
In his last try for a championship — indeed, in his most recent fight –Porter was outpointed in June by Keith Thurman with the WBA crown on the line. That fight came after a one-year layoff.
Berto won his last bout, knocking out Victor Ortiz a year ago. His previous fight made a lot more headlines, though not because of Berto. It was the last time in the ring for Floyd Mayweather.
No, these guys haven’t been all that busy, so there should be plenty of pent-up fury carried into the ring for the Showtime card being billed as a welterweight eliminator.
“When it’s time for the fight, Andre Berto and I are going to put on a show,” says Porter, 26-2-1 with 16 knockouts. “I’ve seen this man get hit, I’ve seen him get put down and he got up. I know he can be hurt and I know he can be stopped, He’s a man just like me. He’s ready, but not as ready as me. You don’t want to miss it on Saturday night.”
Porter’s decision loss to Thurman in the same arena was one of the better fights of 2016. Thurman outpointed Danny Garcia in a split decision at Barclays in March, and a go with Porter, 29, isn’t a long shot.
“The No. 1 thing for me is to win this fight and show Keith Thurman that I’m ready for the rematch,” says Porter, who held the IBF title in 2014 before Kell Brook beat him. “There is nothing allowed but positive energy. We’re almost there. I’m definitely excited.”
Berto (31-4, 24 knockouts) owned the WBC, IBF and WBA crowns at various points of his career. He won his first championship back in 2008, yet might be best known for being Mayweather’s last victim.
But after avenging a loss to Ortiz in 2011 by stopping him in four rounds last April, the 33-year-old Berto knows he’s at a crossroads.
Taking down Porter is essential for him to get within reach of another title bout.
“My focus right now is on this fight night on Saturday,” Berto said. “Everything that comes after it will take care of itself. I just have to make sure all my energy is used towards getting this win.
“I’m still on top of my game. That’s something that’s hard to do. We had a tremendous camp. One of the best I’ve had in years. I was focused the whole time.
“I’m looking forward to putting those straps on just like they never left. … I’m going to show you what it is to go through adversity in life and make it to the top again. Saturday night, we’re going to make it happen.”
Just before Porter and Berto try to do that, a belt will be on the line. Jermell Charlo, the WBC super welterweight champ, puts is perfect mark (28-0, 13 KOs) on the line against Charles Hatley.
Charlo will be in the ring for the first time in 11 months for his first title defense. He took the crown against John Jackson last May in Las Vegas.
“There are some things I have in my arsenal that the world hasn’t seen yet,” he claimed. “I’m going to show everyone a little bit more than last time. I’m ready to go 12 rounds. I’m excited about this fight. I’ve picked up a lot of things in training and I’m ready to shine.”
Hatley (26-1-1 with 18 KOs) gets his first shot at a world title, but his resume doesn’t show any opponents with Charlo’s skills.
Not that it matters to Hatley.
“I’ve wanted Jermell for three years,” he said. “There’s no other fight in boxing that I want more than this. We had a long camp and we never stopped working. I’m going to bring the best out of him and become the new champion.
“There’s nothing he can do to stop me from leaving the ring with that belt.”