Throughout his career Andre Berto has been known as an action fighter who will stand in the middle of the ring and not take a back seat.
Those accolades earned him a shot in Sept. 2015 against the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world—Floyd Mayweather. It was promoted as the final fight in Mayweather's historic career. Some fight fans thought, with his style, Berto would be able to give Mayweather problems. And some fight fans presumed Mayweather would do what he does best and make Berto miss, connect when he wants, get in and get out. The latter happened and Mayweather won a lopsided decision.
Berto looked like the Berto of old in his next tilt. Last April, he stopped Victor Ortiz by fourth-round TKO. A little less than one year later, the former three-time welterweight champion will be back in the ring. Saturday night, he faces former IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter in the main event of a title eliminator, airing on Showtime.
Fighting Mayweather is an experience many fighters want to have. It is their biggest payday and the journey to get to the fight is something they will never have again. Once inside the ring, Mayweather makes gives them an experience unlike any other. At the end of the fight, to Berto, it felt like he was going to the gym and fighting a sparring partner.
"It was frustrating," Berto told Sporting News. "We trained tremendously hard for that fight. It was something new. It was something different and awkward. Because what I learned about myself was that I was able to handle that whole circus and atmosphere that came with fighting Floyd. I was in great shape, great spirits and very confident. But then it got frustrating because all the hard work I put in and you come and fight the best. Every round felt like (laughs) almost kind of feel like your cheated. Because if you’re not able to work like you want to. Not able to test your endurance, power and your reflexes against this guy. He just slows it all the way down. It gets frustrating because I worked hard every day, tirelessly. I sparred hundreds of rounds with all of these different sparring partners with all different styles. And then fight time came and it was nothing like that.
Berto continued: "I got out of every round sitting back in the corner and thinking like ‘What the hell is this? Did I hit him? Did he hit me?’ I don’t know. It just felt like a totally different type of feeling. It definitely felt like I just got out of a sparring match. It was crazy. It was different. I think the last few guys he fought like Canelo (Alvarez) and (Manny) Pacquiao would say the same thing. It’s a totally different experience."
Berto learned a lot about himself after going through fighting Mayweather and it showed in his performance against Ortiz. Now, going into battle against Porter, Berto hopes to take the the lessons from the Mayweather tilt into Saturday's contest.
"A lot of people crumble when it comes to that high on that big circus that comes with it, Berto said. "They just go into it and get in great shape like I was and not letting it fluster me a bit. And I just wanted to see what facing the best was all about. And I just worked every round trying to do it. That right there gave me so much more confidence and made me a better fighter. Going into this fight, I know the real Andre Berto is here."
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can find his podcast, "The Fight Club Chicago," and subscribe on iTunes. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA.