I guess we have to take seriously the notion that Floyd Mayweather may be facing Andre Berto for his next fight on CBS in September, which now looks like it could be a real thing and not just like a trolling ruse, as I speculated it had to be just a few weeks ago. On the off chance public outcry can derail the fight, and because there are going to be people out there defending this match-up, let’s do our best to strangle the whole thing in the crib.
This match-up is indeed a dumpster fire, as friend-of-the-site Kelsey McCarson aptly put it with his promotional poster parody above. As far as big fights involving the sport’s leading figures go, it’s on par RE: shittiness with Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri from 2014, only even worse, because at least Algieri was coming off a meaningful (and yes, controversial) victory.
Berto has risen to as high as the top 5 of the welterweight division in his career, but that was circa 2009 and maybe 2010. Dating back to 2011, Berto has won just three of his last six, one of those losses coming to freaking Jesus Soto Karass, who has always been an admirable plugger, but who doesn’t know much about how to box and was on the decline when he fought Berto in 2013. And two of Berto’s wins weren’t even particularly convincing.
It’s one thing to expect Mayweather to beat everyone he faces because he’s just that extraordinary a boxer; that comes with the territory. It’s another thing for him to be facing his worst opponent in a decade. I guess you can make an argument that he deserves a “soft” opponent given that he’s coming off the biggest win of his career, but it’s not like there haven’t been soft opponents on Mayweather’s resume since 2005. There’s soft like your run of the mill fancy toilet paper, and then there’s seven-ply.
If you’re thinking, “Hey, at least Berto will be a fun opponent,” you are wrong. The reason Berto has been a fun opponent in the past is that for all his speed and power advantages, he gets dragged into wars; whatever boxing ability he once had, it’s gone now. Berto can’t defend himself at all — his half-assed attempts at emulating Mayweather’s shoulder roll are one of the most fun things he has going for him these days, because it’s so comical — and he’ll be target practice even more than your usual Mayweather foe. Maybe Mayweather will score a knockout, for once? If your idea of fun is watching a hapless, hopeless, undeserving man get bashed to smithereens, then maybe this one will be fun for you.
So this fight will be on CBS and in theory, it’s a positive for the best and best-known boxer in the world to be fighting on free television. It might not even backfire, somehow. The inordinate number of fans who tuned into Mayweather-Pacquiao included a large percentage who hated it; yet large percentages of people hating the outcome of a Mayweather fight has rarely done a thing to his audience base, which has remained, at minimum, persistent in its size. The best thing you can say in defense of this fight is that, despite itself, it might somehow be good for boxing. That’s not insignificant, mind you.
But an actual quality match-up, against an opponent who has any current credentials whatsoever, would be even better for boxing. And odds are solid that it’s going to be hyped as some historic achievement by Mayweather to go 49-0, since Rocky Marciano did that, but that’s misleading at best and can lead to folk being outright misinformed. And whatever awesomeness there is in that record (and there’s at least a good amount, to be sure; Mayweather has beaten some terrific fighters) is cheapened by the fact that, if Mayweather gets to 49-0 against Berto, it’s clearly being done with ease in mind. “Well, what did you expect?” is an argument I bet we’ll see, but it isn’t an actual argument in favor of any of this this — it’s an acceptance of awfulness and a cynical lowering of the standards.
Hot garbage may be hot, but it’s still garbage. It’s going to take one helluva hot take to defend Floyd Mayweather vs Andre Berto.