Behold, Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s last professional fight. Is it really his last fight? Maybe, maybe not—after all, he’s gone into retirement before. Though Mayweather has given a few reasons why we should believe he’s really retiring, such as taking his uncle Roger’s troubled health and preserving his own into account, it has seemed more like a strategy to sell tickets and pay-per-views than Floyd’s last hoorah.
I consider myself to be a true boxinghead. I would watch Floyd fight whether I liked the opponent or not (because you can always learn something). However, I wasn’t initially thrilled with the selection of Andre Berto as an opponent. It’s nothing personal against Berto, I just wanted to see Floyd challenged as much as possible if this really is his last fight. I don’t think Floyd has anything to prove, but it’s the selfish fan in me that wants to see him beat the absolute best contender just one more time.
Here’s the good news (and likely unpopular opinion of the day): this is going to be a good fight. As I was studying Floyd’s tapes (aka YouTube videos) in preparation for this prediction, I came to the conclusion that the Berto fight will look a lot like Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto—and that was an exciting fight. Do I think Berto will win? You’ll have to read on to find out. But even if Berto only has a fighter’s chance, there’s a high probability we’ll enjoy ourselves watching him try.
Tale of the Tape
|Floyd Mayweather||Andre Berto|
|Record||48-0, 26 KOs||30-3, 23 KOs|
|Hometown||Las Vegas, NV||Winterhaven, FL|
Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. Just look at Floyd Mayweather’s undefeated record of 48 hard-earned wins and zero losses to his name. This isn’t exactly news, as Mayweather loves to proclaim this feat often, especially on his fitted caps and t-shirts. Besides an undefeated record, Mayweather also boasts 375 rounds boxed—a stat that is nearly twice as much as Andre Berto’s.
Berto may look like the bigger guy but he’s actually shorter than Mayweather and has a smaller arm reach. As much of a disadvantage as this may sound, the reach actually works out for Berto, whose best punches are on the inside. Fighters with shorter arms have to get closer to establish their distance, but they can also make their punches sneakier because they don’t have to loop or wing shots as much as their long-armed counterparts.
As far as the height difference, Berto will have fun trying to get to Mayweather’s body, which is pretty important in this fight. Mayweather is in sick shape—he can take body shots really well—but working the body can be a distraction to disguise a nobler motive, which is landing clean punches to the head. We shouldn’t forget that Berto has a 70% knockout ratio, meaning his power should not be underestimated. Aside from having intelligence, power is one of Berto’s best weapons if he is aiming to land clean shots on Mayweather’s chin.
Supposedly this is Floyd Mayweather’s fight. He and his team have based the entire marketing of the match with Andre Berto on this fact. This fight sets a different tone than Mayweather’s most recent ones with Manny Pacquiao and Marcos Maidana, which were nothing short of trash talk and drama leading up to the fight.
Mayweather has been a pretty laid-back guy for a while. At the final press conference he said, “We’ve been here so many times. I know talking doesn’t win fights. I know trainers don’t win fights. It comes down to the two competitors. I’m always prepared, physically and mentally. We have a remarkable game plan.”
Berto is also approaching the fight more humbly than guys like Pacquiao and Maidana. He knows he’s the underdog and even worse, he’s not an underdog anyone wants to root for. It’s not really that Berto doesn’t deserve to fight Mayweather, he just seemed to come out of nowhere as far the Mayweather lottery was concerned.
But Berto stated explicitly during the final press conference that he’s coming to fight for respect:
“It’s funny, when it comes to the media and critics. They’re not in that gym working and knowing the feeling of being a fighter. They don’t know the miles we run and the sacrifices that we have to make to become a world champion or come up to this level of fight.”
Something just doesn’t scream farewell about this fight. Forty-nine wins would be great for Floyd, but 50 sounds even better. However back in August, Mayweather gave FightHype.com some compelling reasons why it makes sense for him to retire. In the video he namely cites his uncle Roger (an integral part of his training), whose deteriorating health is of much to concern to him:
“What people don’t know…my uncle [Roger Mayweather] has lost a lot of memory from the sport of boxing… and it’s sad that he’s only in his 50’s but it seems like he’s an old man in his 80s. I love him dearly and it hurts me extremely bad that he doesn’t even know who I am anymore.”
Mayweather stated that he’s working on getting his uncle help, likely by getting a caretaker. He’s also concerned about his own health now that he’s 38 years old. He spoke on the matter to MLive.com during his media day workout:
“My health is more important. Anything can happen. I’m not really worried about losing but I want to have a sharp mind. You can make a lot of money but you still want to be able to talk, walk and have a sharp mind.”
Quite honestly, these are sound reasons for retiring. The worst thing Mayweather could do is to continue fighting and ruin his legacy by not knowing when to put the gloves up. On a selfish note, one more fight to make his record 50-0 would be a sight to see.
Strengths for Each Man
Floyd Mayweather is a total package as a fighter. He’s got incredible hand speed, footwork, cat-like reflexes, and defense. Best of all he can make adjustments and use these strengths however he needs in order to break down his opponent.
Rarely do we see a boxer that does almost everything exceptionally, which is why Mayweather is the pound-for-pound best in the world, and arguably one of the greatest fighters of all time.
Another one of Mayweather’s underrated strengths is consistency. For those who have never sparred or fought before, this concept will be a bit foreign to their imaginations. For those that have ring experience from sparring or amateur and professional matches, think of the best round you’ve ever had, where you were quick, sharp, calculating, and effective. Now imagine fighting that best round twelve times back-to-back.
Does this mean he wins every round? No, it doesn’t. What it means is that Mayweather’s mental game is consistently “on” for each of those 36 minutes. Most people can barely keep focus during a 30-second conversation, let alone a 36-minute boxing match. Spectators of boxing frequently undervalue the mental focus required when you have to constantly collect data on what your opponents did, anticipate what they will do, and respond accordingly.
The only reason Mayweather is able to be consistently consistent is because of the experience he’s accumulated over his career. Experience is perhaps Mayweather’s greatest asset in this fight. It’s been a very, very long time since we’ve seen another fighter show Mayweather something he hasn’t seen before.
Andre Berto is without question the underdog in this fight. Though few are enthusiastic about Berto as an opponent for Floyd Mayweather, he actually brings quite a few strengths to the table that could make this fight more interesting than initially thought. For one, Berto has the advantage of youth and power.
Now, youth hasn’t been a factor to stop Mayweather in the past but it might be a factor now. Mayweather vs. Maidana II was the first time, possibly ever, that I’ve seen Mayweather look more tired than usual. Was it just a bad night? Perhaps. Berto is five years younger than Mayweather, and we have every reason to believe that the conditioning in his training camp has been top-notch.
Uppercuts are Berto’s best punches. If he wants to land them on the champ he’ll have to close the distance between the two of them quickly. Berto clearly has the power advantage, as evidenced by his 70 percent knockout ratio. That’s much higher than Mayweather’s mere 54%. Mayweather isn’t known for knocking out opponents these days, and the fact that Berto is more likely to gives him an edge.
Virgil Hunter will also be a tremendous factor in Berto’s success. Like other fighters Hunter has worked to reform, such as Amir Khan, Berto’s success will depend on how well he listens to his corner and follows the game plan. Berto will be wise to value the advice and observations Hunter makes from outside the ring.
Weaknesses for Each Man
Is there anything Floyd Mayweather can’t do right? Well, yes actually. Mayweather’s weakness is being against the ropes. At this point in his career he does it on purpose, though it works against him by giving his opponent far too many highlights.
It’s a relatively well-known fact that you can beat Floyd against the ropes. The problem is he won’t go involuntarily.
If he does put himself against the ropes, Andre Berto can use that opportunity to let his hands go and if anything, score some rounds in his favor. I mean hey, if Mayweather is giving away rounds for free, Berto should take what he can get.
Andre Berto has the advantage of an excellent trainer but I often question his boxing IQ. No doubt he has heart, but time and time again, Floyd Mayweather’s opponents have proved that heart isn’t enough to beat him.
The war with Floyd is mental more than it is physical. The physical attributes his opponents tend to highlight such as speed, strength, and youth, are merely factors that support the most important requirement—the ability to outsmart.
As trite as it may sound, there’s a reason why boxing is compared to chess and not checkers. Most of Mayweather’s opponents become frustrated quickly, especially when they find themselves unable to use their best assets effectively.
Berto can easily be broken down. I’m confident that Berto can persevere through a physical war but a mental one, I’m not so sure.
Winner and Why
Picking Floyd Mayweather is a no-brainer in this fight. He’s experienced, focused, and is one of the hardest workers in the game. Andre Berto isn’t as experienced of a fighter, nor is he the ideal opponent most of us had in mind for Floyd’s “last” fight. However, I do think that this match-up will be more exciting than originally thought.
As I mentioned before, I believe the Mayweather-Berto fight will look much like Mayweather’s fight with Cotto. I give Cotto credit for being a better boxer than Berto, and he brought a lot of action and determination to the fight.
Cotto was actually one of the most exciting Mayweather opponents in recent years, and I think Berto has the ability to bring that kind of excitement also.
To be honest, Mayweather has nothing left to prove. He’s fought the best fighters in his division and others for nearly two decades. If this really is his last fight, I would like to see him leave on a high note. The only way that will happen is if Berto brings his best game.