The aftermath of Floyd Mayweather’s decision to have his ‘final’ fight against Andre Berto in September is one of bemusement and amusement. It has been greeted with a general underwhelming reception. Berto is a welterweight contender, no doubt, but his status cannot be seen beyond the remit of a contender. Following three losses in four bouts from 2011 to 2013, Berto’s early promise remained at just that. Two of those losses were against opponents that came up short against Mayweather previously - Victor Ortiz and Robert Guererro. Perhaps the most telling loss was against his most recent opponent, Jesus Soto Karass, who had eight losses at the time of the Berto fight.
With two rather ordinary victories to his name since that loss, Mayweather has plucked Berto from a select group. The frustration of the selection is the core issue boxing fans have with the sport. No centralised decision making body dictates match ups whereby the most deserving face each other. From a sporting perspective there are clear issues relating to competition design.
The manner in which Mayweather dispatched Manny Pacquiao in their May mega-fight would suggest Mayweather would have little issue with any of the journalists preferred opponents such as Amir Khan, Kell Brook, Keith Thurman or Danny Garcia (Mayweather would simply not go up in weight to fight Gennady Golovkin). So why Berto? The answer may simply be economic and by that, I do not mean the Berto bout.
Mayweather’s current six-fight deal with television network Showtime ends after the Berto fight. It’s open market for the television companies then to secure what will surely be Floyd’s real last fight, number 50. Currently at 48 victories and 0 losses, an easy victory over Berto will pave the way for this event where Mayweather will get the chance to finish his career beating Rocky Marciano’s historic 49 fight 0 losses figures. The need for legacy should not be underestimated. This will be Floyd’s.
So why not a more deserving opponent for his 49th fight? Perhaps it is a reaction to the poor reviews of his Paquiao fight. The Berto fight will do a fraction of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight (reportedly upwards of $500 million, the richest ever fight) but a 50th fight against a ‘better’ opponent will surely do big number PPV sales. Floyd will have vast bargaining power for this and will guarantee him a monster TV deal for one last fight. The appetite for another Mayweather dismantling is simply not there now. Fast forward and an impressive victory over Berto, and his next (and final 50th) fight will be sold as a historic event against Pacquiao again or a Khan or a Brook. Of course, Andre Berto may have his own place in history before that, however unlikely that may be.