Written By Bakari Simpson: So far, this wild 2017 that we’re having has provided a plethora of thrills, upsets and controversies. In this blistering climate it’s been easy to lose track of upcoming fights. Looming just a week and a half out, this threatens to be the case with Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter. The two deadly welterweights are scheduled to lock horns Saturday April 22, 2017 at the Barclay’s Center. The main event, an all action guarantee, will air on Showtime Boxing.
For those in the know, it’s understood that ‘Berto vs. Porter’ equates quality violence. Betraying each man’s natural laid back demeanor, even the bout was made with a measure of contention.
Referencing the fights origin, Shawn was the first to go public with news about active negotiations. This manmade prize fight “set up” enraged Berto. In short order, he took to social media and various boxing outlets denouncing the validity of Showtime’s claimed. Berto asserted that Shawn tried to forge a fight over the phone while he was on the commode shooting a deuce. The Haitian boxer insisted this was not how to do business! At this point, Berto insisted no fight of any kind were in talks. Andre even went so far as to threaten Porter with back alley beating if seen on the street.
Shortly after the verbal fracas an official bout was formally announced giving credence to Porters earlier declarations.
Technically speaking both men are coming off sensational performances, despite one being a win and the other a loss. Although he dropped a close unanimous decision loss to divisional rival Keith Thurman Porter lost virtually no credibility.
In fact, there is a large contingent of boxing enthusiasts who saw Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16 KO’s) winning the fight. Prize fights with debatable winners are becoming more and more commonplace. Jacobs vs. Golovkin, Ward vs. Kovalev, Garcia vs. Peterson and Diaz vs. Peterson all left the audience divided. Far from a negative, this growing trend is a testament to the increasing number of top-flight fighters facing premium opposition.
Regardless of the official loss, Shawn remains confident, focused and, most importantly, ferocious. Porter understands that Berto’s scalp is likely the toll for his next title fight. Currently Showtime is rated #3 by the WBC, behind #2 Amir Khan and #1 Danny Garcia. A dominant win over Berto could place Porter in a prime position to face Garcia in an eliminator situation. Or, even better, Shawn could finagle a coveted rematch with Thurman. Either fight would be enjoyable, interesting and meaningful.
As for Andre Berto (31-4, 24 KO’s), the satisfaction of his last victory was beneficially compounded many fold. Fighting in Carson, California, Andre exorcised a brutal revenge by flattening longtime rival Victor Ortiz. Early in the fight Berto connected with a cringe-inducing, cleaving uppercut; Victor’s once sturdy legs were now baby food. A sad, sluggish version of Vicious Victor made it to his feet. Standing or not, referee Jack Reiss would soon stop the fight when an unresponsive Ortiz forced his hand.
Long saddled with a quitter’s reputation, scores of fight fans questioned if the besieged Ortiz had quit again.
Much like Shawn Porter, although in a different sanctioning body, Berto is in a prime position for a title shot. Actually, Berto is in a superior position in the landscape of the IBF rankings. There, Berto is ranked #3 behind #2 Jeff Horn and #1 Errol Spence. Horn is on the books to fight Manny Pacquiao on July 2nd. Meanwhile Errol is all set to challenge IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook on May 22nd.
Outside of Horn’s promoter, mother and barber, no one believes the Australian has a chance.
As it stands, if Berto maintains his position in the IBF rankings he’s first in line for a shot at the Brook/Spence winner. Well, that would be the case after Horn walks the plank and is fed to aging tiger shark Manny Pacquiao. This outcome is a pretty safe conclusion.
Looking at it from this angle, Berto has a great deal at stake in the Shawn Porter fight. A loss to Shawn would be detrimental because it’d trigger the loss of his strategic position in the IBF rankings. The 12-year, battled tested veteran does not want to be wasting time and taking backward steps at this juncture.
Outside of being a meaningful prize fight for the combatants and the division, this promises to be a great action fight for the fans. Andre Berto and Shawn Porter are both strong, durable fighters who prefer bringing the fight to their opponents. Neither has made a boring scrap in their careers. Mixing their styles together would be the closest legal equivalent to a Mississippi dogfight. In fight circles, that’s a good thing!
Can’t wait for this one, and you’d be a silly one to miss it yourself…
Bakari Simpson INSTAGRAM: @s.larry_love FACEBOOK: Bakari Simpson