Could a lingering rivalry over a woman have spawned the Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto fight?
Berto (30-3, 23 KOs) seemed to imply as much Tuesday, four days before he fights Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) in what the pound-for-pound king says will be the final bout of his 19-year career.
One thing certain, they may be stablemates — Berto is managed by longtime Mayweather adviser Al Haymon — but there never has been a team camaraderie between them.
“He showed up to some of my early pro fights and he seen that I had that demeanor that, ‘Yeah, we’re cool, but I want that, what you’ve got, I want that,’ you know what I’m saying?” Berto said. “He could kind of tell that (I thought), ‘We’re cool, but you ain’t my type of guy, and I want everything you’ve got.'”
Berto, 32, has known Mayweather for 12 years, and said, “Just as a person, I don’t really like him.”
“I don’t got nothing that I idolize about anybody like that who has to pay for friends, pay for women, pay for this, pay for that. I mean, that ain’t me,” Berto said.
Whether Berto’s comments are enough to spark a welterweight title fight with more than 2,000 tickets still available at the box office, and a $74.95 pay-per-view tag, they might be enough to rankle Mayweather, who has been subdued throughout the promotion.
Berto implied that running in shared circles could have played a part.
“We know a lot of the same mutual people. We know a lot of the same mutual females,” Berto said. “And there’s a lot of crossways, man, a lot of things that cross.
“I’m not one of these boxers that just fights and goes home and sits up with their wife and kids and tries to figure it out. I’m out there. I have a good time. Me, I’m an all-right-looking guy, too. I’ve got a personality. I don’t need a hundred-million (dollars) to have any of your women walk outside of that house and come see me when they get tired of all that money talk — all that lame, boring money talk. Everybody’s got money. That (stuff) gets tired.”
Asked if they might have had a past relationship with the same woman, Berto was evasive.
“Like I say, we know a lot of the same people, come across some of the same people,” he said. “You guys keep asking me, ‘Why do you think he picked you?’ Ask him. It must be something. You don’t think I deserve it, so he must be trying to beat me up for a reason, right?
“If you’re in school, and you think you’re the (man), and you have somebody who, for some reason, you want to beat up, there must be a reason. There must be a reason why I want to fight him. Everybody else, yeah, it makes sense, but him, I want to fight him, before I leave, my last fight.”
Mayweather, asked later if he recalled any rivalry over a woman, was dismissive.
He said he thought he might have attended one of Berto’s amateur tournaments.
Berto produced proof on his cell phone — photos of himself, with Mayweather, riding in a car after what he said was the 2003 National Golden Gloves at The Orleans Arena here, when he won the “Golden Boy” award as the tournament’s outstanding boxer.
He said Mayweather “took me out to dinner, me and my whole team, and just basically let me know that you’re going to be the next guy up.”
Berto has been mentioned as a Mayweather opponent multiple times over the years.
That talk subsided as Berto lost three of his last six fights, though physical limitations, including a career-threatening shoulder injury he says is fully healed, could have contributed.
The fight finally came together, but it wasn’t as any favor to Berto, who didn’t want one.
Berto said he always was friendly with fellow fighters on his way up.
“But him? I always knew in my mind, we can be cool and whatnot, you can be buddy-buddy all you want, but in about a year, year-and-a-half, I’m coming after your ass,” he said.