There is action from both sides of the Atlantic this Saturday night, as Floyd Mayweather takes on Andre Berto, in what he claims will be his last fight, and Anthony Joshua continues his heavyweight odyssey against massive Scot, Gary Cornish.
Floyd Mayweather vs Andre Berto
Nobody was calling for this fight. Nobody. In fact, when Floyd first suggested Berto as a potential September opponent some months ago, his words were met with laughter. Few took him seriously. He was simply trolling the boxing media, it seemed.
Yet, here we are.
Berto, 30-3(23), is only two unconvincing wins removed from a devastating knockout loss to Jesus Soto Karass. Karass came into that fight with a less than glittering 27-8-3 record, and went on to lose his next two. Berto also dropped two of the three bouts previous to that disappointing defeat.
It is far from an inspiring form guide.
Mayweather, however, has been characteristically defiant in the face of media criticism. He has defended his choice of opponent, saying that Berto is a game fighter and is likely to make for an entertaining bout.
More so, he claims, than his May opponent, Manny Pacquiao.
If the fight itself doesn’t interest you, there are many intriguing subplots to this story. Floyd is, of course, claiming that this bout represents his last hurrah. It may be the final time we see one of boxing’s all-time great talents strutting his stuff inside the squared circle. If true, this is a big occasion.
Questions still abound, however, about whether Mayweather genuinely intends on hanging up his gloves.
There is also the added interest of seeing if Floyd can equal the 49-0 slate of heavyweight great Rocky Marciano. Although, the actual historical significance of such an achievement has been blown out of proportion.
If recent reports of slow ticket sales are any indication, though, Mayweather’s assertions that Berto is a worthy challenge, and all the historical subplots that surround this bout, have done little to tempt fans.
Well, here’s the thing. I agree with Mayweather somewhat. Berto may not have done anything to deserve this shot, but I expect him to put up a gallant effort and provide the fans with plenty of entertainment.
Berto has a history of being in exciting fights, and he has proven himself to be among the toughest fighters in the sport. His battles with Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero, and the aforementioned Karass, were all titanic, fight of the year type scraps.
They were also showcases for Berto’s will, determination and fortitude. I believe this will be another inspiring display from the former welterweight title holder.
Berto will likely attempt to box a little with Floyd at the beginning of the fight, but he will abandon this approach three or four rounds in having had little success. At this point Berto will resort to the tactics that most fighters employ against Floyd – pressure and aggression. Berto, however, will display a little more commitment than Pacquiao did, and a little more hand speed than Marcos Maidana showed, allowing him to lay hands on the champion with greater frequency.
Mayweather will still come through and win via decision, but he may have to survive a scary moment of two along the way.
Elsewhere on the card….
Given that the main event is much maligned, it is unsurprising that this is one of the most stacked undercards to ever support a Mayweather fight.
The two main attractions featured are, George Groves vs Badou Jack for the WBC super-middleweight title, and Roman Martinez vs Orlando Salido in a rematch for the WBO super-featherweight title.
Groves is hoping to put the Carl Froch saga firmly behind him by picking up the famous green belt of the WBC. The man standing in his way is Swedish born Badou Jack. The Stockholm native, now based in Las Vegas, caused something of an upset last time out when he dethroned Anthony Dirrell via majority decision in Chicago.
In analyzing this match-up it is hard to ignore Jack’s February 2014 KO loss at the hands of journeyman, Derek Edwards. If “The Ripper” can’t take the best shots of Edwards, it is unlikely that he can brush off the punches of Groves, who showed in the first Carl Froch fight that he carries more considerable power than he was previously given credit for.
Groves’ superior handspeed and boxing brain will allow him to land with regular, quality counters, and eventually he will find a home for a big right hand on the Swede’s suspect whiskers. Jack won’t recover. I see Groves scooping the title he so desperately craves via stoppage, inside six.
Roman “Rocky” Martinez and Orlando Salido are two grizzled, grizzled, veterans, and they love to go to war. Their first fight was a slugfest and this one won’t be any different.
This bout will be the show-stealer.
Salido has accumulated slightly more wear and tear than Martinez, who is two years his junior, and I feel that this will be the telling factor.
This time Martinez might just get to Salido late.
Fans in the U.K and Ireland can catch the entire card on Boxnation, Sky channel 437, from 1 a.m Saturday night/ Sunday morning.
Anthony Joshua vs Gary Cornish – Vacant Commonwealth Heavyweight Title
The sparkling nature of his 13-0(13) record would lead many to assume that Joshua has spent the early part of his career feasting on carcasses. Given that he is a heavyweight prospect with superstar potential, and that this is 2015, such an assumption is understandable. Joshua, though, hasn’t been handled with undue care thus far. He has fought a host of serviceable and tough veterans over the last year. Kevin Johnson, whom he annihilated last time out, was even a former WBC title contender. For a fighter of his experience level he has taken on a very respectable level of opposition.
Still, most of these fighters lacked any real ambition by the time they stepped between the ropes to take on the Londoner.
This is where Cornish should be different.
He is himself an immense physical specimen, in fact, at 6’7 he stands an inch taller than Joshua, and thus he shouldn’t be as intimidated by A.J as most. More importantly, though, he too is an undefeated fighter, with a shiny 21-0 record. Having never felt the pain of defeat, Cornish will surely have a degree of belief that none of Joshua’s previous 13 victims possessed. The ambition has yet to be knocked out of this Scotsman. He won’t be there simply to survive, he will be looking to land his own leather, and this alone will make for an interesting night.
In saying all that, it would be hard to pick against Joshua given the athleticism, skills, power, speed and penchant for destruction that he has ably demonstrated in his short career thus far.
I think that Cornish will have his moments in this fight, and we will get to see how Joshua reacts to shipping a couple of shots, but in the end the Olympic gold medalist will overpower his fellow giant to scoop the Commonwealth strap.
Joshua by 4th round stoppage is the pick.
Elsewhere on the card….
Most of the interest in the undercard is being generated by another undefeated heavyweight. 15-0, Dillian Whyte, is being touted as Joshua’s next opponent. The two have a history that dates back to their amateur days, when Whyte actually dropped and beat a green Joshua. A.J’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, is looking to use this back story to build a real attraction, and so far he has been getting a helping hand from the Jamaican born Whyte.
At recent press events, Whyte has launched a number of verbal onslaughts toward Joshua, in which he has branded his foe a “fake”. There was also a tense altercation at a London gym prior to Friday’s weigh-in. Sky Sports’ cameras were on hand to catch the drama….
This is a fight that could really capture the imagination of the British public, but before it can happen both men must come through Saturday night with their records unscathed.
Whyte faces the tough, but outsized, American veteran Brian Minto.
The card also features an interesting rematch for the Commonwealth super-lightweight title, between champion Dave Ryan, and John Wayne Hibbert. The pair exchanged knockdowns in an exciting and extremely physical fight in May.
You can catch all the action on Sky Sports 1, from 8.
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