"Coming from where I come from, we’ve always been underdogs" - Andre Berto, 2015
Hailing from a fighting family, toughness and tenacity runs in Andre Berto’s blood. His father, brother Edson, and sister Revelina were all MMA fighters and his brother Cleveland was a state champion wrestler. His father now owns and runs a gym in their hometown, where the majority of his family still resides. Although born in Winter Haven, Florida, Berto has always had a strong affiliation with the birth place of his parents - the Republic of Haiti. He holds dual citizenship, and opted to represent the nation in the 2004 Olympics where he reached the opening round of the welterweight bracket. In December of that same year, Berto turned pro and racked his first victory. Over the next 6 years, all Andre Berto knew how to do was win.
In 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, near the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince. The most severe earthquake the country had experienced in over 200 years, it affected nearly 3 million people, including Berto’s family. At the time, Andre Berto was the WBC World Welterweight Champion, nearing a major fight with Shane Mosely that could take him from the special to the elite. He eventually pulled out of the super-fight to travel to Haiti to offer front line support and relief. “It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” he recalled. His efforts were similar when Haiti was again victim to another major earthquake in 2016. As a country who fought back from a devastating quake 6 years previous, the nation was again forced to endure disaster, and again, Andre Berto would show up to help.
Berto embodies the same fighting spirit as the nation to which he has so many ties. When counted out, both somehow find a way to be counted back in. Unjustly viewed as the underdog in the majority of his recent fights, he’s fought from various setbacks and losses - first to earn a shot at Mayweather, next to avenge his shock loss to Victor Ortiz, and now to take on one of the top welterweights, Shawn Porter. Should he beat Porter on April 22nd, he will rise once again to the top tier of the welterweight pool.
Berto had a phenomenal early career, dispatching all they put in front of him - notably Luiz Collazo, who at the time, only previously lost to two potential future hall of famers in Shane Mosley and Ricky Hatton. Winning the WBC world title in 2008, Berto went on to defend the belt 3 times by 2009. He was now one of the most coveted boxing stars on the planet. In April 2011, Berto scheduled a routine defense. By now, Berto boasted a record of 27-0 with 5 successful defenses of his title. There wasn’t to be a successful 6th. Berto fought Victor Ortiz in a war that went down as fight of the year, losing by unanimous decision. Disaster had struck. This defense had been widely publicized to be an audition to fight Mayweather. This loss however - an earthquake to his career. Learned from the precious nation of his parents, though, the one thing Andre Berto knew how to do was rebuild.
He went on to win the IBF world title against Dejan Zacek in September 2011, but opted to vacate to facilitate a rematch with Victor Ortiz. But another setback loomed - an aftershock to the earth shattering Ortiz loss. Berto tested positive for a banned substance, and the rematch was off. It was later ruled that Berto’s positive test was due to contamination and his boxing license was reinstated. This, however, didn’t change the fact he’d lost the opportunity to re-face Ortiz, and he’s have to go back to the drawing board.
Next came 2 further losses, but both battles which possibly won him more respect than his past accolades, and both possible fight of the year candidates. He faced Robert Guerrero in 2012, and despite being knocked down in the first and second rounds, clawed his way back to finish the fight, with two forcibly closed eyes in the later rounds. In 2013, Berto was set to make a comeback against Jesus Soto Karass, under new trainer Virgil Hunter. Early in the fight, Berto injured his right shoulder, battling the remainder of the fight with mostly just his left hand. He dropped Soto Karass in the 11th - by then, severely injured - but ultimately fell to a TKO in the 12th round from a knockdown that wasn’t followed by a count. The judges scorecards reflected a split decision draw had the fight gone just 2 minutes and 12 seconds longer. For most, defeat is a reason to sit down and pause, but for someone like Andre Berto, it was a reason to get up and continue on. He received shoulder surgery less than a month later to repair the main tendon he had torn, and was anticipating his return to the ring.
In September of 2014, he was ready. A wide unanimous decision over Steve Upsher Chambers proved he was back in the game. A devastating TKO delivered to Josesito Lopez six months later moved him up the ladder. A shot at Mayweather was finally deserved, and although defeated unanimously, Berto had re-cemented his presence. In his last outing, in April of 2016, he avenged his loss - sending Victor Ortiz to the canvas twice, rendering Ortiz unable to continue. The man who selflessly helped the people of Haiti fight back after a series of devastating earthquakes had managed to now help himself fight back after a series of devastating losses. This KO victory sealed the deal - Andre Berto belonged once again in the elite group of welterweights.
Anyone who has seen, followed, or read about Andre Berto’s relationship with boxing surely wonders, "What will happen next on his roller coaster of a career?” Whether they know the ins and outs, or just the basics, any boxing fan likely knows one thing about Andre Berto - he is never in a boring fight.
Berto takes on Shawn Porter on the 22nd of April, in a final eliminator for the WBC world title he previously held. He goes into this fight 4 to 1. Can boxing’s favorite underdog overcome the odds again and set up a sweet spot at the top in Showtime’s unofficial welterweight tournament? If anyone is capable, surely it’s Andre Berto.
The Harvest Is Coming.4 min