By Vinny “Glory Days” Lucci
Hey Gang as promised I’m going after the spring line up with a vengeance and continue to breakdown and handicap every significant fight. With no less than a half dozen tantalizing title fights on the horizon this bout is more of the appetizer variety but a fan friendly brawl nonetheless.
On paper this one plays out as a match of two immoveable objects that should collide ring center and could be contested in a phone booth. Both fighters will enter ring in superb condition but for the most part neglect boxing skills in attempts to overwhelm each other. With no title at stake, the WBC has declared this a title eliminator for Keith Thurman’s belt that he won in title unification with Danny Garcia on March 4.
In metaphoric terms this one could be billed as the “Gate Keeper” Vs the “Stepping Stone”. While both these gents may disagree having an abundance of fight and heart left in them the fact remains the loser takes a giant step backwards while the victor only remain relevant. The key for both boxers in this bout is to upset the applecart by boxing.
Corner men and game plans will factor in the likely outcome of this welterweight match up but it will be fascinating to see the between round instructions and which pugilist can carry them out without falling into routine bad habits of clinching and winging desperation punches. Shawn’s dad Kenny Porter has managed and trained him to the top and on a mission to again seize control of a 147 pound title that guarantees a choice of lucrative matchups with the division’s famous echelon.
Opposing them from opposite corner will be the formidable challenge of trainer Virgil Hunter whose brain thrust and expertise has guided Andre Ward to legendary status and pound for pound consideration. Hunter has been with Berto since 2013 and has his charge working behind a stiff jab and better balance in recent outings. Unfortunately, Berto was chosen as Floyd Mayweather, JR.’s farewell performance in ’15 and reduced to playing bull as Floyd played matador and picked him apart ring center for twelve rounds.
Previous bout: Porter lost a 12 round unanimous decision in a failed title shot against WBA champion Keith Thurman last June. He put up a spirited contest but allowed himself to be out boxed by Thurman’s movement and recipient of heavier artillery also. Berto avenged his welterweight title loss to Victor Ortiz last April with a fourth round TKO that was several years in the making.
The Stats: Shawn nicknamed “Showtime” stands 5’6” with a 69 and ½ “reach. The American born boxer fights from the orthodox stance and carries a noticeably bigger frame than his opponent having turned pro in 2008 as a middleweight. After a few bouts he moved down to junior middleweight with continued success before making the 147 realm his home in 2010. Porter boasts a record of 26-2-1, 16 KO’s and is 29 years old. He has been 12 rounds four times.
Andre nicknamed the “Beast” stands a half inch shorter with a once inch reach disadvantage. The Haitian’s record is 31-4, 24 KO’s and is four years older at 34. He also fights from orthodox stance so there will be less chance of accidental head-butts considering the anticipated clinches in this bout. Berto has been 12 rounds 6 times.
Location and date: Bout to be held at Barclays Center, Brooklyn New York promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Premier Boxing Champions, sponsored by Showtime airing on their cable network. If you’re a true boxing fan in New York area Barclay’s is a highly recommended venue by yours truly. The Brooklynites come out in force and fill the seats to the rafters. The atmosphere is always electric. Televised portion starts at 9 pm on East Coast. First bout starts at 7 pm. Tickets are still available starting at $54.
Styles: Both men possess fundamental boxing skills but often neglect them when the fire hits the pan. Of the two Berto makes better use of his jab and pacing himself into a boxing rhythm until forced to go to war in trenches. Shawn for all his physicality and power in ring has some nagging flaws in his style which allows better fighters to exploit. He starts his combinations with a power jab but before he doubles on it he starts winging right hand bombs with abandon often neglecting proper footwork and balance. These moments appear to resemble fits of frenzy while his guard drops and stance often squares up in pocket. Luckily for him Berto possess neither the elite boxing skills to defuse the mayhem nor the brute strength or power punches to keep him honest. Berto will attempt to box behind a steady jab and set up right hand counters while keeping a tighter stance and defense.
Intangibles: Can Virgil Hunter bring out the very best boxer inside Berto and have his fighter turn back the clock and remain ring center turning his adversary into his counters rather than oblige a tough man contest from ring pillar to ring post? Will Kenny Porter make life simple on his son by having him triple up on his solid jab and shorten up on his right hand? Once the fireworks start with the approval roar of the crowd will both fighters give in to old habits forcing this fight down to a war of wills? If so how will the naturally smaller Andre keep the broad shouldered Porter off him?
Odds: Early odds have ranged closed to and been hovering at: Porter -420 Berto +300
Prediction: Porter by S.O.S. (stoppage or scorecards) While Berto will put up a terrific effort the mileage from past fights will appear about his swollen eyes. Unable to outbox Robert Guerrero and unable to outfight Jesus Soto Karass is a good indicator that Porter will stop him late by TKO or pull away with unanimous decision during last third of fight.
Final Thoughts: Handicapping this one didn’t take the expertise needed in picking a winner the way it did in covering the recent Golovkin/Jacobs and Thurman/Garcia title fights. (Both picked correctly here) Porter will be on his way to a much anticipated rematch with Keith Thurman as a mandatory WBC defense. A gent named Tewa Kiram from Thailand inexplicably holds the WBA number one slot ahead of Adrien Broner and Danny Garcia. Thurman most likely will make a title defense in September and have to decide on a voluntary defense or getting one of his two mandatories placated.
The undercard features a co-main event that should have been featured attraction. WBC Jr. Middleweight champion Jermell Charlo defends his belt for first time against capable Charles Hatley after being out of ring for ten months. (Will do complete feature on this bout before fight night)
Just added to card giving fans more bang for the buck is WBA #1 Heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz vs (TBA) in a ten rounder.
Did he actually say that?
In an impromptu interview this week Lennox Lewis was asked who the most dominant fighter was atop the heavyweight division he once ruled. Without hesitation Lennox said that Tyson Fury is “still, top of the top!”…………Hearing this I laughed so hard tears ran down my leg!
Stay tuned…Contact the Feature Writers