Monday, November 22, 2010

Andre Berto: Manny Pacquiao Has 'Skills to Pay the Bills'

Whether or not Manny Pacquiao has faced an African American fighter,Andre Berto says that the Filipino star has demonstrated "the skills to pay the bills."

A 27-year-old Winterhaven Fla., resident who is of Haitian descent, Berto (26-0, 20 knockouts) was responding to statements made to FanHouse by former undisputed middleweight (160 pounds) king, Bernard Hopkins, that Pacquiao has yet to face an American-born black fighter with a slick style.

Nicknamed "The Mexicutioner" for his dominance of Mexican boxers, Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) is coming off of a Nov. 13, unanimous decision triumph over Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) of Mexico for the WBC's vacant junior middleweight (154 pounds) belt. 

Already the WBO welterweight (147 pounds) king, Pacquiao also earned his eighth title over as many different weight classes and his 13th straight win, including eight knockouts during that run. 

"At the end of the day, you're going to have to have the skills to pay the bills, and he [Pacquiao] has shown that he has that," said Berto, who is the WBC's welterweight champion. 

"And you have to have the skills to go in there and put it on them," said Berto. "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you're white, black, have to have those skills to make it happen in the ring."

But Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports wrote recently that "Pacquiao still has [yet] to face the ultimate test -- the fast, speedy, in-his-prime opponent that a Floyd Mayweather [41-0, 25 KOs] would be." 

A fighter such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Iole contends, "represents the kind of fighter Pacquiao has yet to face: A big guy with tremendous speed and quickness as well as punching power, defensive skill and a quality chin."

Hopkins further pointed out that Pacquiao's resume does not include six-time champion Mayweather or former welterweight and junior middleweight world champion Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs).

Negotiations for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight have twice reached an impasse.

"I heard about the statement he [Hopkins] made, and, you know, it's somewhat of a true statement. But at the end of the day, Manny Pacquiao, you can't take anything away from what he's done," said Berto. 

"Manny Pacquiao's still a tremendous fighter," said Berto. "But I think that it's just coincidence that he hasn't fought too many African American fighters, or, well, really, the fact is that he hasn't at all. But you know, I don't really think too much about that."

Berto is focused for on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he will make the fifth defense of his crown against Mexico City's Freddy Hernandez on an HBO televised card.

"This is definitely a representation of a step forward. I mean there are other guys out there, and this guy is not a big-name fighter, but he's a dangerous fighter," said Berto of the 31-year-old Hernandez, who has won 12 straight, six by knockout, since losing a split-decision to Golden Johnson in February of 2005. 

"I think that a fight like this, in a lot of ways, is a more dangerous fight to have to fight because this is a situation where I have everything to lose and he has got everything to gain. At the same time, these are the types of fights that I really get up for and I'll get up for this just because of that," said Berto.

"This is going to be a really good fight, and we're looking forward to coming out of here with a win," said Berto. "We're looking forward to just moving forward and looking at bigger things in the future. We'll handle business on Saturday night, and then, it looks like the floodgates will open."

Berto hopes to turn in a performance against Hernandez (29-1, 20 KOs) that will lure his dream match up against an opponent such as Pacquiao.

"I'm focused on Saturday night and Freddy Hernandez, and that's all that I'm focused on right now. I'm looking forward to coming out of there with a win, hopefully, in impressive fashion. And then, everything that comes after that, you know, we will have to see," said Berto.

"But of course, you know, I'm looking at Manny Pacquiao, guys like Floyd Mayweather, and Shane Mosley, you know, they're the guys that I've always looked up to since my days as an amateur," said Berto. "It's just going to be a place for me to get in there and to state my presence against those future Hall of Famers. But, like I said, I have to handle my business on Saturday night."

Berto-Hernandez is taking place as part of an HBO televised triple-header promoted by Golden Boy Promotions whose main event will feature WBO and WBA lightweight (135 pounds) titlist Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KOs) of Mexico opposite WBO interim king Michael Katsidis (27-2, 22 KOs) of Australia.

The Marquez-Katsidis under card will also boast WBA super bantamweight (122 pounds) king Celestino Caballero (34-2, 23 KOs) facing super featherweight (130 pounds) Jason Litzau (27-2, 21 KOs).

Pacquiao's promoter, Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum, has told FanHouse that Berto is indeed a strong consideration to face Pacquiao, that is, after first considering six-time champion Mayweather, Marquez, and, likely, Mosley, the latter of whom turned down an offer from promoter, Lou DiBella, that proposed a 50-50 split to face Berto.

Another potential rival for Berto in the Pacquiao sweepstakes could be his promotional stablemate, WBC middleweight (160 pounds) king, Sergio Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs), who is coming off of last Saturday's second-round knockout of former three-time titlist Paul Williams (39-2, 27 KOs).

In defeating Williams in a clash of southpaws, Martinez avenged a disputed, majority decision loss in December that included both fighters being floored in the first round. 

Berto also has been mentioned as a potential rival to WBA junior middleweight king Miguel Cotto(35-2, 28 KOs).

Berto is coming off of April's career-defining, eighth-round knockout of Puerto Rican southpaw and former world champion Carlos Quintana, who, with, Martinez, is the only other man to have beaten Williams.

"If it was all up to me, after Freddy Hernandez, if I could line things up for next year then it would be Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and then Manny Pacquiao," Berto told FanHouse during an Oct. 21 interview. 

"If I could get all three of them next year, you know, that would be my route that I would want to go in," said Berto. "Then, I think that with that, I would be able to be satisfied. That would definitely satisfy myself and that would definitely show where I'm at."

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