By Robert Coster
The next big fight in the welterweight division is the WBC-WBA title unification bout between champions Andre Berto and Shane Mosley on January 30th, 2010 — a clash of two generations. The possible outcome of this battle has the fans and pundits divided. Those who favor Mosley, a majority, point out that the future Hall of Famer has the edge in experience, skills, versatility and has fought high caliber opponents. Those who back the undefeated Berto speak of his strength, youth, speed and the possibility that Father Time may very well catch up withthe 38-year-old Shane. This is certainly the opinion of Lou DiBella, Berto’s promoter, who predicts that “on January 30th, the era of Shane Mosley ends and that of Andre Berto starts.” And what does Andre Berto himself think? The personable Andre answers a few pointed questions from Fightnews.
How are you preparing for the biggest fight of your career against Shane Mosley next January? What are your thoughts going into that fight?
“This is obviously a huge fight for me. I am preparing in every way. I’ve been doing my homework and I’m looking forward to passing the test with an A+.”
Some sportwriters feel that you just are not ready for a potential Hall of Famer like Mosley? They argue that you haven’t faced the quality of opposition Shane has. One has even coined the word ” mismatch.” What is your response to these arguments?
“I don’t have to much to say about those those assumptions. I just plan to answer all those questions on fight night…in the ring”
Andre, you have your followers and your critics, which is normal. Among those critics , there some who say that you have moved away from being an exciting action fighter to one that hits and then clinches in your last fights. Do you feel this is true and what is your answer to these comments?
“This is the fight game. I’m a student of the game. I go a few fights being aggressive and exciting and then took a few fights to move around and box. I’m trying to be versatile and do other things. But I can promise you that January 30 is definitely going to be an exciting fight and everyone needs to tune in.”
You are the son of Haitian immigrants, born in Florida, one of 7 children. I know you credit your father, your tight-knit family and boxing for keeping you out of trouble. You want to talk about that?
“I have a strong family background. I think that’s what people need to stay focused and stay grounded and I’m blessed to have that. My father, a former Ultimate Fighter, instilled discipline and a strong work ethic in all of us. He talked to us about having a goal in life and doing our best to reach it.”
You had an impressive amateur career with Golden Gloves National and PAL titles, a bronze medal at the world championships. But you also a great disappointment, being disqualified in the US team trials, then reinstated only to have that decision overturned and not being able to represent the USA at the Olympics. What was it like going through that kind of experience?
“It was a tough situation, but I tell you what: adversity can destroy or make you stronger. The experience made me stronger and I enjoyed the possibility of representing Haiti at the Olympic Games. All this is in the past and I’m focused on my pro career.”
As a pro, what was your toughest bout? Many feel that Luis Collazo, in particular, gave you a very hard fight.
“My toughest bout was David Estrada. The Collazo fight was a tough fight also, but I feel like I came into the fight not fully prepared like I needed to be so I put that on myself for making it hard. I think the Estrada fight was still probably my toughest fight because I think it was my first major test as a young guy coming out. I had a guy in front of me who wouldn’t go with shot after shot, and kept coming and pushing me to the limit. He tested me and my heart and I think I broke through and I graduated.”
An aspect of your life that many people do not know is that you have used your success in boxing to further some charity work. You maybe feel uncomfortable mentioning it but could you talk about aspects of your philanthropic work?
“My charity involvement is very important to me. I am on the board of an organization called the Carma Foundation, founded by Melky Jean, Wyclef’s sister. The Foundation does a lot for the country of Haiti. We take trips over their to feed the kids and are sponsoring a few orphanages. I also work closely with the Citrus Center Boys and Girls Club in Florida. I grew up at the Boys and Girls club and I know how important it was for me and going back there and giving back is important to me.”
And you would like to continue in the future helping out those in need? You have visited Haiti right and done some charity work there?
“I definitely will. I think I am lucky to be in the position I’m in. It’s only right for me to give back to those who aren’t as fortunate as I am. I think it’s our purpose to go out and continue to help others. I believe that whole-heartedly.”
One Haitian newspaper reports that you mentioned that you would like to start a boxing program in Haiti. Would it please you to be seen over there as a symbol and role model for the youth? It is known that you are proud to be American but also proud of your Haitian roots.
“Definitely, that’s another plan that we have in the works is to start an amateur boxing program in Haiti. After I had the chance to go the Olympics and represent Haiti, it showed the kids there that they can do the same. There are a lot of young kids that aspire to be the next Olympic boxer and world champion from Haiti so it’s definitely our plan to go over there and help them to chase those dreams.”
If you do score the big win against Shane Mosley-and it would be an upset for many sportswriters, which opponent would you then like to meet? The winner of Cotto-Pacquiao? Floyd Mayweather?
“I’m one hundred percent focused on Shane Mosley and January 30th right now, and am not looking past this fight in anyway.”
With your upcoming clash with Mosley in mind, what do you have to say to the doubters out there, those who don’t believe that Andre Berto is for real?
“Tune in January 30th and hopefully I can make them all believers.”