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In boxing, there is dumb, dumber and then there is the ill-fated strategy Andre Berto employed in last November's fight against Robert Guerrero. You remember that Berto, right? The power puncher who spent most of his career clobbering opponents with right hands who inexplicably came out against Guerrero employing a (bad) shoulder roll defense that got him knocked down twice in the first two rounds and probably cost him the fight?
Yep, that's the one. Now, a fighter tinkering with his style isn't unusual. A fighter overhauling it and implementing a style very few fighters employ is highly unusual, especially since only one fighter (Floyd Mayweather Jr.) has mastered the technique Berto tried.
In a way though, it was fitting. The loss to Guerrero was a disastrous end to a disastrous stretch for the former welterweight champ. Earlier in 2012, Berto was busted for using a banned substance, offering a meek explanation (contamination that could have been attributed to eating tainted food) that few really believed. Before that, Berto was beaten up in a decision defeat to Victor Ortiz, his toughest -- and some would argue his only -- test to that point.
Nine months later, Berto is back, beginning the rebuilding process on Saturday, when he faces veteran brawler Jesus Soto-Karass at the AT&T Center in San Antonio (Showtime, 9 p.m.). As is custom for floundering fighters, Berto has undergone the requisite "transformation." He fired longtime trainer Tony Morgan (the trainer is always the scapegoat, isn't he?) and replaced him with SI.com's 2011 Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter. Hunter has vowed to scrap the shoulder roll and force Berto to develop an identity, something Berto (surprise!) sounds eager to do.
"It's just a fact of just getting back to the basics on what I do," Berto (28-2) said. "That's to stay strong, stay good on my defense, work on my jab and work on my strong combinations and just be me at the end of the day. I have the hand speed. I have the power. I have the athleticism and it's just putting everything together. I believe being in a camp, Virg is able to see all of that. He feels that I can do whatever I want to do, but it's better just to stick to me and do what I do."