The word that best describes Andre Berto in training is “explosive.”
Berto has extremely quick hands, even for a welterweight, but the former two-time titleholder also possesses the strength and punching power of a much larger fighter. He’s like a 6-foot 200-pound athlete squashed down into a stocky 5-foot-7 frame that somehow makes 147 pounds.
(I know Berto’s height is listed at 5-foot-8½ on Boxrec.com, but unless I’ve begun to shrink that stat is a bit of an exaggeration.)
His short stature hasn’t hindered his boxing career thanks to the elite speed and raw power that he’s been blessed with. I got to witness that potent combination up close during a recent visit to the Ten Goose Boxing gym in Van Nuys, Calif., where Berto is training for his anticipated rematch with Victor Ortiz on Feb. 11.
I winced every time his gloves connected with trainer Tony Morgan’s mitts.
Berto’s straight right hit like a cannon blast. His compact hooks produced a thunder clap-like noise. Every shot seemed to send shock waves through Morgan’s body during the mitt session.
I’m not usually so taken by the sound and impact of a fighter’s punches when works the mitts. Normally, I’m watching his foot placement and various maneuvers to get an idea of what kind of strategy he’s working on with his trainer.
And make no mistake, Morgan, a young-but-experienced trainer with an astute boxing mind, was going over the finer points of the sport with Berto. He was getting Berto to block and counter-punch in combination. They also worked on lateral movement and setting traps.