Berto vs Alexander: Why winner probably gets immediate title shotWritten by Leroy Cleveland
Devon Alexander and Andre Berto insist the winner of their fight tonight will get a welterweight title shot even though both fellas have been relatively inactive of late and neither has defeated a top 10 opponent in ages.
Well OK, we'll cut Berto a little slack for his March 2015 come-from-behind TKO over Josesito Lopez.
However, Berto is just 3-4 in his last seven bouts and Devon is 2-3-1 in his previous six.
Will the winner get a title shot next?
Why: It's complicated. It's professional boxing.
We'd love to see a unification showdown next but that won't happen as Thurman, Spence and Crawford are all too much risk for the reward for each other at this moment.
So, who are the top challengers?
Answer: Fight legend Manny Pacquiao (WBA regular champion), Jessie Vargas, Egidijus Kavaliauskas (20-0, 16 KO), Jeff Horn (18-1-1, 12 KO) and Yordenis Ugas (22-3, 11 KO). And let's not forget about Adrien Broner (33-3-1), lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (39-0) who has expressed a desire to fight for a welterweight title, and the loser of September's WBC title showdown between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.
... But if you're managing Spence, Crawford, Thurman or the winner of Garcia-Porter, you might be looking to sidestep the above (presumably) more-dangerous opponents for the winner of Berto-Alexander unless you can get Manny.
Berto and Alexander are former world champions with moderately big names. And in boxing, like politics, name recognition means a lot. Fans won't be excited about Spence vs Berto or Alexander but it'll sell some tickets and people will tune-in.
Moreover, Berto and Alexander, because of their previous accomplishments, are good names to have on a fighter's resume.
The second sizzle to Alexander and Berto is both fighters are deemed to be past their prime and neither fella has been very active nor impressive in years. Hence, Crawford vs the winner of Berto-Alexander would be a low-risk, profitable affair for Bud & Co. Moreover, the winner of Berto-Alexander, which will be broadcast on FOX, will have built a little momentum heading into a showdown with Crawford/Spence/Thurman/Garcia or Porter so his stock will be elevated over several higher rated, more deserving challengers.
Pacquiao vs winner of Berto-Alexander?
Perhaps newly-crowned WBA 'Regular' Champion Manny Pacquiao will make an offer to the winner? Although Pac has a minor title his name is, by far, the biggest among welterweights and fighting him would probably yield the largest purse and greatest spoils should Devon or Berto pull off the upset.
Pacquiao is close to 40 and has had just one solid performance in nearly two years and hasn't been very active. Team Pacquiao might want Manny to fight once more before facing a powerbroker such as Crawford, Mikey Garcia or Vasyl Lomachenko. Should that be the case, Team Pacquiao might be looking at the winner of Berto vs Alexander as next fight option
If I'm managing Pacquiao, I'm not interested in Alexander because his style is a bit awkward and ugly and it wouldn't be a savory match-up stylistically. He's a classic boxer with pretty good skills who likes to mug and hold his opponents. Pacquiao vs Alexander would be a risky endeavor because it could be an ugly fight with Manny looking unimpressive in victory. Conversely, Berto is an exciting fighter and, stylistically, may be just what the doctor order for Team Pacquiao.
Berto would be the safest high-profile option if Team Pacquiao is hellbent on facing Crawford next year. Pacquiao vs Berto wouldn't generate a lot more interest than Pac vs Matthysse but it would be a good test for Manny. And if Pacquiao looked as good against Peterson or Berto as he did Matthysse, it would legitimize and enhance an ensuing superfight showdown with Crawford or another powerbroker.
In the end...
It's all about minimizing risks and maximizing reward, and the winner of Berto-Alexander would satisfy both objectives. If you're Crawford/Spence/Thurman/Pacquiao or Garcia or Porter, you're chompin' at the bit to face tonight's winner next.