Floyd Mayweather v Andre Berto: Keys to the fight

Floyd Mayweather Andre Berto

Esther Lin

No overselling this, it’s a lopsided fight. Andre Berto can break down a fighter, but Floyd Mayweather doesn’t get hit enough to get broken down. Berto has a puncher’s chance as a 21-1 man-to-man underdog, and the hope that the 38-year-old Mayweather has gotten a lot older in the last four months.

Here are five keys to victory for each man in Saturday’s Mayweather vs. Berto welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena:

MAYWEATHER’S KEYS

1. Let Berto dictate distance early
Setting distance is a trait at which Mayweather typically excels. Against Berto, he really doesn’t need to expend much energy on it. Berto likes to have a little punching space, enough to work behind his jab. The handful of times Mayweather has faced sustained duress, it has come against fighters who smother him. Berto typically doesn’t fight that way, so let him have his way, and pick him apart from range.

2. Counter the jab
Mayweather created some terms in the boxing dictionary during his career, like “check hook” and “pull counter,” the latter of those best illustrated by the punch that was the beginning of the end for Angel Manfredy in 1998. If you’ve been waiting for 17 years to see it play that conclusive a role in a Mayweather fight again, Saturday may be your night, because Berto too often throws a single jab and nothing behind it, and if Mayweather gets a lazy one timed, he can work the right hand over it. Regardless, countering Berto’s jab is essential. If Berto turns into a one-punch jabber, as he is prone to do, prone is what he may end up. His only alternative, if he’s getting countered too much, may be to quit jabbing. Then he’s really in trouble.

3. See ribs, eat ribs
Real simple, Berto tends to resort to peek-a-boo defense, gloves high aside his head, whenever he finds himself susceptible to head shots. When he does it, he’s open downstairs, and Mayweather will exploit it repeatedly, as available.

4. Just an angle or two
It doesn’t take much. Mayweather shows some of the best punching angles in the game, and his movements are so subtle that sliding a couple inches can get him into position, and an opponent out of position. Against a stationary target like Berto, a few angles could prove absolutely baffling.

5. Safety first
People hate it about Mayweather, but there’s one way Berto wins the fight. Mayweather can negate it by making Berto understand the dangers of fighting at a fast pace with his counterpunching, then grinding down to the methodical tempo that neutralizes punch count and reduces the likelihood of getting caught on the tail end of an exchange. Taking away those opportunities severely limits Berto’s puncher’s chance, and allows Mayweather to pinpoint shots.

BERTO’S KEYS

1. Move that head
It doesn’t move. It just sits there, like a golf ball on a tee. If Berto doesn’t move his head, he’ll have to go into survival mode early, because Mayweather will whack him like silly, and there won’t be a thing he can do about it.

2. Maintain hand discipline
Berto does some very peculiar things manipulating his hands defensively, apparently to try to confuse opponents, but it often leaves him out of position to punch, and his compensatory defense often involves a chin tuck that offers protection from the shoulder, but not the off side, because he’s too busy hand-jiving. Cut out the Bruce Lee garbage and keep it tighter.

3. Cut the ring
Berto comes forward in a straight line. If an opponent slides, he typically follows. Following Mayweather around the ring is futile. He can’t be caught. He has to be corralled, then roughed up. Berto may not have any of the elements to do it, but if he doesn’t at least try to dictate Mayweather’s movement, he’ll never land the shot he needs.

4. Turn it ugly
This may be completely out of Berto’s nature unless cornered. As mentioned, he likes to work from outside, have a little space to work, and use his speed and athleticism. He and Mayweather are the same in that regard. Except Berto can’t win that way. He does have gumption, and has fought through difficult circumstances with his past shoulder injury, and has been knocked down five times by three opponents in his last six fights, so he will engage a gritty fight. But can he create one?

5. Bet Mayweather by KO at 7-4 then find the soft spot
Or put bacteria in his water bottle. Or hide his gumshield. Those are Berto’s best chances to win, because he isn’t going to move his head or cut off the ring. He has to land a big shot and get the pound-for-pound king out of there, because he won’t win rounds. His only shot is to use every one of those 36 minutes to try to set up the big shot, don’t slip into survival mode, and risk the consequences. There’s only one way to look great, and that’s by risking making Mayweather look great.

Courtesy of David Mayo of mlive.com. Follow David on Twitter @David_Mayo

Mayweather v Berto is live on Showtime PPV. You can order Mayweather v Berto in the UK by clicking BoxNation