Boxing will return to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday with yet another meaningful, well-matched main event, this time between former welterweight titleholders — and good pals — Shawn Porter and Andre Berto.
Regardless of who wins, one scenario is likely: It will be an entertaining fight, given the way these two guys usually bring it when the bell rings. The action on Showtime begins at 9:30 p.m. ET, with preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT.
There are also two world title bouts on the card. In the co-feature, junior middleweight titlist Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs), 26, of Houston, will make his first defense, a mandatory against Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs), 31, of Dallas, in a long-delayed bout between fighters who have been chippy with each other throughout the buildup.
In the top fight on Showtime Extreme, Amanda Serrano (31-1-1, 23 KOs), 28, of Brooklyn, will attempt to win a women’s world title in a fifth weight class when she faces former featherweight titlist Dahiana Santana (35-8, 14 KOs), 32, of the Dominican Republic, for a vacant bantamweight belt.
This is what you need to know ahead of Saturday’s Porter-Berto fight.
What’s at stake: Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) vs. Andre Berto (31-4, 24 KOs), welterweight world title elimination fight
Porter, 29, of Las Vegas, and Berto, 33, of Winter Haven, Florida, have both held welterweight world titles — Berto doing so twice — and both want to win another in boxing’s deepest weight division. Saturday’s winner will earn a mandatory shot at unified world titleholder Keith Thurman.
“Berto and Porter have never been in a boring fight. They’re fighting to get back to the top of the mountain,” Showtime Sports executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza said. “There is plenty at stake.”
Porter lost a very close unanimous decision in a terrific scrap challenging Thurman is his previous fight last June, also at Barclays Center. Porter wants a rematch.
“The number one thing for me is to win this fight and show Keith Thurman that I’m ready for the rematch,” Porter said. “There is nothing allowed but positive energy. We’re almost there. I’m definitely excited.
“I know that [Thurman] has two different belts. He will have two different mandatories, so I understand all that, but I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring with Keith Thurman in a rematch as soon as we can after this fight with Andre Berto.”
For Berto, the win would put him in position to reclaim one of the belts he used to hold.
“Becoming a three-time world champion is great motivation,” Berto said. “The WBC belt was the first belt that I won and I want it back. I avenged my loss to Victor Ortiz [who took the belt from him in 2011] last year, but getting the green belt back would bring everything full circle. At this point in my career, every fight is big, and a potentially career-defining fight, so I’m taking everything one step at a time and preparing like I need to.”
The bout comes at a time when both fighters are coming lengthy layoffs that neither wanted to take. Porter hasn’t fought since the tight loss to Thurman 10 months ago and it will be only his second fight since June 2015. He has wanted to fight more regularly, but adviser Al Haymon didn’t get him additional bouts.
Berto has not fought in one year, since he stopped Ortiz in the fifth round of their rematch last April. He has had several layoffs in his career, including because of a positive drug test and shoulder surgery. The fight will only his second since a lopsided loss to then-unified welterweight world champion Floyd Mayweather in September 2015.
Neither believes that the time off will leave them rusty.
“No, no ring rust at all, man. I’m just looking forward to this fight,” Porter said. “I know it’s been a while since you guys have seen me, but I’m always working, and my team is always on me, making sure I’m in shape, getting in shape, staying in shape. And that I’m controlling my weight, my eating, all that kind of stuff. So, right now, there’s no problem for Shawn Porter.”
Said Berto: “The layoff is the layoff. That’s something you got to ask the promoter, the managers on that. But anybody that follows me, they know I’ve been staying busy. I’ve been working out and I’ve been staying in shape.
“I’d say [trainer Virgil Hunter and I have] had a nice lengthy camp to make sure to knock off all the rust. And we’re sharp, man, and all ready to go. So I don’t think it’s going to play too much of a big part in this as well.”
Written off? Berto ready to prove everyone wrong
For all Berto has accomplished, he’s just 4-4 in his last eight fights and many view him as a clear underdog to the younger, fresher Porter.
Even though Berto has fought several top opponents, he has lost to most of them. A win over Porter would probably the best of his career. He knows many have written him off.
“Well, from my first loss moving forward, I’ve been written off,” Berto said. “It’s just where the fight game is. From my first loss on, it’s been this and this, this and that. I’ve been through my hard times. I’ve been through everything in this fight game and have been in front of that TV screen.
“That’s what you need to understand. Everything that I’ve done has been in the eyes of the public — my rise, my fall, going through my defeats.
“Coming back from shoulder surgery, coming back trying to continue to make a statement, make people know I’m still here. I love it, because I love that roller coaster ride. I’ve never seen my career coming into the game as being perfect. Never. Never. I’ve always wanted to feel everything that this game had to offer.
“I’m going to show you what it is to go through adversity in life and make it to the top again. Saturday night, we’re going to make it happen.”
Porter: 26-2-1 (16 KOs); former IBF welterweight titlist (2013-14); 2-2 (1 KO) in world title fights.
Porter: Throws 39.6 power punches per round, 10th-most among CompuBox tracked fighters.
Porter: 73.2 percent of total punches are power shots (39.4 of 54.1), third-highest rate among CompuBox tracked fighters.
Berto: 31-4 (24 KOs); two-time welterweight titlist (WBC, 2008-2011; IBF, 2011); 7-2 (4 KOs) in world title fights.
Berto: Throws 43.8 total punches per round, according to CompuBox.
Berto: Absorbs 20.4 punches per round, tied for fifth-most among CompuBox tracked fighters.
Porter has been in some fun fights, including the Thurman rumble, his big win against Adrien Broner, a knockout win against Erick Bone and even in his world title loss to Kell Brook.
Berto has made a living in exciting fights, including his epic first fight with Ortiz, and slugfests with former titlist Luis Collazo, Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass.
“This main event doesn’t need a lot of hype. Two of the best guys in the division fighting to get in there with Keith Thurman and prove who the man is,” promoter Lou DiBella said. “Shawn almost succeeded against Keith in a fight he thought he won. Berto is a [former] champion and there is no quit in him. This is going to be a war in the ring on Saturday night.”
The fighters have been friendly for years and been respectful toward each other throughout the lead-up to the fight. But they’ll put that aside for the sake of the combat, which both expect to be fierce.
“When it’s time for the fight, Andre Berto and I are going to put on a show,” Porter said. “I’ve seen this man get hit, I’ve seen him get put down and he got up. I know he can be hurt and I know he can be stopped. He’s a man just like me. He’s ready, but not as ready as me. You don’t want to miss it on Saturday night.”
Berto agreed with his opponent.
“Some people thought [Danny] Garcia-Thurman lacked action [in their March unification fight], but I’m not worried about that for this one. I don’t condone boos. That’s just how I fight.” Berto said. “Our job is to work hard and do the best we can in the ring and give the fans a great show.”
Prediction: Porter by decision in a good fight.