Original Article: The Ring
By Lem Satterfield
August 19, 2011
Andre Berto couldn't figure out why he was so tired before, during and after his WBC welterweight title defense against Victor Ortiz in April. A 27-year-old fighter known to some as "The Beast," Berto said that he didn't have any energy and felt "old" going in.
Despite giving all that he could muster during a brawl that featured two knockdowns apiece by each fighter, Berto suffered his first loss in 28 bouts by unanimous decision to Ortiz.
"I take nothing away from Victor Ortiz, he came to fight. But I couldn't lift my arms, couldn't move my legs and my body wasn't there. Every time I tried to throw a combination, my body was just so exhausted," said Berto, who was briefly hospitalized with dehydration afterward.
"Sometimes in the fight, the only thing that I could do was fall back to the ropes. I had trained hard, just like I always do, but my stuff wasn't right. Everything was just dead to me. I fought on pure heart that night, but deep inside, I knew that there was a problem."
Berto has since discovered his "problem" after having teamed up with controversial BALCO founder Victor Conte, whom he credits for re-energizing his workouts. After examining Berto's blood samples, Conte found that the fighter to be overtrained and severely anemic.
"Overtraining occurs in athletes who train beyond their body's ability to recover. Boxers are known to train long and hard, but often times it's without adequate rest and recovery," said Conte, whose supplementation program replinishes nutrients such as Iron in Berto.
"We've been routinely monitoring him and his biochemical profile has definitely improved. He's still training hard, but he's also training smarter and better understands of the value of the recovery interval."
Berto (27-1, 21 knockoutss) will be out for redemption when he meets IBF titleholder Jan Zaveck (31-1, 18 KOs) at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Biloxi, Miss., on Sept. 3.
"Being anemic, it was like going into a fight with less than a half of a gas tank in your car. It's only been about four or five weeks, but I definitely feel better," said Berto, who meets Zaveck four days before his 28th birthday.
"Victor sat down and explained to me what everything does for my body and made me understand that yes, I was training as hard as I trained and getting in shape to a point. But I was also pushing my body to a point where it was ridding itself of good nutrients, and zinc, and other things to the point where I didn't have too much left."