By Alex Dombroff
Photos: David Greene
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Forget that Andre Berto was born in Florida, and Juan Urango has made a habit of fighting there. And forget that when the two square off May 30 it will be in Hollywood, Florida. When it came to announcing their fight Wednesday, they were in a New York state of mind. Donning pinstriped jerseys and hats with the famous interlocking NY, both men came together at the NYY Steakhouse, inside the new Yankee Stadium, to announce their fight. It will be for Berto’s welterweight title and mark Urango’s first foray above 140lb. for a meaningful fight. Both men took time out from standard prefight bullying and spoke glowingly of the opportunity to announce to just be in the new stadium, just a day before the team for which the Stadium is named after takes the field for their first official game in the new digs.
For Berto, the day represented an opportunity to get back to his boxing roots. “I started my career here in New York,” said Berto. “It means a lot to be back.”
Berto’s boxing adolescence was spent more than once a year in New York on promoter Lou DiBella’s Broadway Boxing shows.
Now, having matured into a world champion Berto will test whether or not you really can go home again. The fight with Urango will be his first in his home state since 2005, only one year removed from fighting in the Olympics for Haiti.
“We’re going to take over the crowd that night,” he said.
That might be difficult given that this will be Urnago’s ninth fight not just in Florida, but at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood.
But Berto brushes off the idea it might even be neutral ground.
“No, no,” said Berto. “We’re going to take it over. Even though it’s his home state too, we’re going to take it over.”
Urango, flanked by trainer Evangelista Cotto, saw his surroundings as paying homage to more than just boxing and baseball.
For Urango, it was representative of where he got started as an athlete.
“This is definitely the greatest press conference I’ve ever been in,” said Urango, who holds a junior welterweight title. “I used to play baseball. I used to be a pitcher.”
Even DiBella, who is co-promoting the show with Seminole Warriors Boxing, and promotes Berto, was not lost on scenery, despite his rooting interest.
“This is a rough moment for me,” said DiBella, a lifelong Mets fan, as he helped each man put on their new wardrobe. “But we can’t pass on this opportunity in this great cathedral of baseball.”
He even found some light in seeing his fighter wear the uniform of the Yankees famed closed, Mariano Rivera, referencing Rivera’s famed entrance.
“God willing it will be Enter Sandman on May 30th for Mr. Urango,” he said.