Into the Mystic: Jan Zaveck-Andre Berto Preview


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On the surface, Andre Berto facing Jan Zaveck Saturday night at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi seemed inevitable. Zaveck is relatively anonymous and has a trinket. Berto is looking to regain hardware and respect.

Many boxing fans were giddy as they watched Berto, 27-1 with 21 knockouts, get thrashed along the ropes by Victor Ortiz four and a half months ago. It was viewed as comeuppance for a fighter undeserving of the years of subsidy received from HBO, treatment that would ideally be reserved for special talents or ticket-sellers. To call Berto a special talent would require unconditional enough infatuation with speed and flash to ignore ‘nuances’ such as defense, in-fighting, and durability. To call him a ticket-seller is concretely false. To call him a potential special talent is a reach.

So while Ortiz serving as the opponent that put Berto’s weaknesses on stentorian display was a surprise, the weaknesses themselves were long exposed despite attempts at concealment. In previous bouts, he’s resorted to grappling to compensate for his lack of know-how on the inside. To his credit, he didn’t spend much of the Ortiz fight clinching, which made it more eventful than anticipated. But his alternative to holding was idly laying on the ropes–another sign that he’s far from comfortable on the inside–and with average head movement accompanied by a loose guard, the 27-year-old was used as a punching bag for long stretches of the bout.

That Berto’s drive towards retribution begins against a relatively unknown European titlist is undoubtedly predictable. How the fight plays out is less than predictable.

Jan Zaveck, 31-1 with 18 knockouts, uses stereotypical European ear muffs as his primary defense, but is far more aggressive than the likes of Andriy Kotelnik, Felix Sturm, or Arthur Abraham. He has a strong motor, punching in combination while looking to respond every time he gets hit with a flush shot. Fears that we’ll see 12 rounds of Berto swatting at a listless opponent that has forearms pasted on their forehead should be palliated within a few rounds. If history is any indicator, Zaveck won’t hesitate to throw his hands.

While not a murderous puncher, the 35-year-old has decent pop, disposing Isaac Hlatshwayo¬–best known for two give-and-take battles with Delvin Rodriguez–within three rounds in 2009. Hlatschwayo went on to get knocked out in short order by Naoufel Ben Rabah, calling into question how much he really had after his fights with Rodriguez. But Zaveck followed that eye-opening knockout win with an impressive performance in a return bout against Rafal Jackiewicz, reprisal for what many felt was a dubious split decision loss in 2008. Ruled a majority decision because of a judge incompetent enough to be selected for the next Devon Alexander fight, Zaveck lost no more than three rounds throughout the rematch, outworking his adversary and landing most of the telling blows.

Still, despite his weaknesses, Berto possesses exorbitant speed with a fair amount of power, the type of natural ability Zaveck’s never been in with. Zaveck isn’t as slow as previous Berto victims Michel Trabant, Miguel Rodriguez, or Freddy Hernandez, but he’ll be at a sizable speed disadvantage, even while he’s fairly responsible defensively. What happens when Berto places an undetected right cross directly on Zaveck’s chin is unknown.

If Zaveck walks through those flashy blows and remains durable enough to shrug off the Florida native’s incandescence, we’ll be in for a good scrap Saturday night, one that may resemble Berto’s 2009 battle with Luis Collazo. Zaveck is the type to rush forward after getting touched by showy uppercuts and lead right hands in order to compensate for any impressions made on the judges. Meanwhile, Berto is cantankerous enough to make for a memorable fight against the right opponent. And undeserving titlist or not, Zaveck looks to be the right opponent–with the tools to spring an upset if Berto dares replicate the middling resistance he showcased against Ortiz’ onslaught in April.

Consecutive losses could provide enough incentive for HBO to crowbar themselves off of Berto’s jockstrap and end a legendary run of entitlement. In that sense, the stakes are real, and involve a real opponent.

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SEE ALSO:

Andre Berto: The Human Bermuda Triangle of Boxing


Lost in the Funhouse: Victor Ortiz W12 Andre Berto

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Tags: ANDRE BERTO Jan Zaveck VICTOR ORTIZ Welterweights

  • thenonpareil

    Hi Michael,

    Careful, man. There’s a new movement against criticizing Andre Berto (and fighters in general, it seems) and we don’t want any heat from boxingscheme.com, theboxingtribulation.com, and fightwipe.com. I’ve even sworn never to refer to Berto as The Human Bermuda Triangle of Boxing.

    I’ve watched a lot of video of Zaveck lately and I agree with you–he’s a competent professional. Whether he can take advantage of Berto’s many flaws remains to be seen, however. When Berto waves his left in front of him like a magic wand, he basically becomes a one-handed fighter, but not many seem to try stepping to his left to exploit it. And Zaveck is not an infighter, either, so Berto is in the clear there, too. Zaveck is a little lead-footed and reaches when he throws in combo, so Berto will probably crank out his uppercut and counter straight right, but maybe Zaveck can keep him honest with aggression. Still, I see Berto moving his hands while Zaveck is in defensive posture and outpointing him, although Berto did take a lot of punishment against Ortiz and might have a little psychological baggage entering the ring after his first loss. Maybe that will check his aggression a little. Who knows? But I think it will be a good fight and the crowd of 600 or so will enjoy it.

  • thenonpareil

    Hi Michael,

    Careful, man. There’s a new movement against criticizing Andre Berto (and fighters in general, it seems) and we don’t want any heat from boxingscheme.com, theboxingtribulation.com, and fightwipe.com. I’ve even sworn never to refer to Berto as The Human Bermuda Triangle of Boxing.

    I’ve watched a lot of video of Zaveck lately and I agree with you–he’s a competent professional. Whether he can take advantage of Berto’s many flaws remains to be seen, however. When Berto waves his left in front of him like a magic wand, he basically becomes a one-handed fighter, but not many seem to try stepping to his left to exploit it. And Zaveck is not an infighter, either, so Berto is in the clear there, too. Zaveck is a little lead-footed and reaches when he throws in combo, so Berto will probably crank out his uppercut and counter straight right, but maybe Zaveck can keep him honest with aggression. Still, I see Berto moving his hands while Zaveck is in defensive posture and outpointing him, although Berto did take a lot of punishment against Ortiz and might have a little psychological baggage entering the ring after his first loss. Maybe that will check his aggression a little. Who knows? But I think it will be a good fight and the crowd of 600 or so will enjoy it.

  • Michael Nelson

    Hey HitDog,

    I think most would be fine with Berto winning in a struggle as long as it’s a deserved win, and he doesn’t pull the same nonsense he pulled against Urango. I could be wrong, but Zaveck strikes me as a guy that won’t be easily outworked, and Berto tends to be a pot-shotter. The makings of a good scrap if Berto isn’t too grabby (I fear he might be).

    It’ll definitely be a so what scenario if he stinks the place out. He can make people care if he gains a reputation as an exciting fighter. It’s up to him.

  • Michael Nelson

    Hey HitDog,

    I think most would be fine with Berto winning in a struggle as long as it’s a deserved win, and he doesn’t pull the same nonsense he pulled against Urango. I could be wrong, but Zaveck strikes me as a guy that won’t be easily outworked, and Berto tends to be a pot-shotter. The makings of a good scrap if Berto isn’t too grabby (I fear he might be).

    It’ll definitely be a so what scenario if he stinks the place out. He can make people care if he gains a reputation as an exciting fighter. It’s up to him.

  • Michael Nelson

    @thenonpareil Hey Carlos,

    Not sure if Lampley’s working the fight, but hopefully 600 people is enough to prevent his screeches from echoing whenever Berto skips a right hand off Zaveck’s gloves.

    I agree, Zaveck does seem open to a counter, and Berto can make me look foolish in one fell swoop. But maybe the most noteworthy thing I saw in the Zaveck videos is the get-back mentality Emanuel Steward is always gushing about. Even though ear muffs tend to handcuff activity, getting hit offends Zaveck enough that it’s hard to imagine him being content with getting outworked.

    I don’t know, interesting fight. Potentially. Let’s hope that Zaveck doesn’t turn meek in response to Berto’s athleticism, and Berto doesn’t turn into Urango Berto in response to Zaveck’s aggression

  • Michael Nelson

    @thenonpareil Hey Carlos,

    Not sure if Lampley’s working the fight, but hopefully 600 people is enough to prevent his screeches from echoing whenever Berto skips a right hand off Zaveck’s gloves.

    I agree, Zaveck does seem open to a counter, and Berto can make me look foolish in one fell swoop. But maybe the most noteworthy thing I saw in the Zaveck videos is the get-back mentality Emanuel Steward is always gushing about. Even though ear muffs tend to handcuff activity, getting hit offends Zaveck enough that it’s hard to imagine him being content with getting outworked.

    I don’t know, interesting fight. Potentially. Let’s hope that Zaveck doesn’t turn meek in response to Berto’s athleticism, and Berto doesn’t turn into Urango Berto in response to Zaveck’s aggression

  • thenonpareil

    I was told his last fight in Connecticut drew fewer than 600 paying customers, but that number is so low that I’m not sure I can get my mind around it. The fact is, every time a Berto article goes up on TCS, I get no traffic. More people keyword search Robert Helenius, JC Chavez Jr. and Sebastian Zbik than they do Berto. This is a guy who cannot draw fans, television ratings, or penny clicks for this goddamn website! Yet, there he is making more loot on an HBO main event. More power to him, I guess, since hustling is what this sport is all about….

  • thenonpareil

    I was told his last fight in Connecticut drew fewer than 600 paying customers, but that number is so low that I’m not sure I can get my mind around it. The fact is, every time a Berto article goes up on TCS, I get no traffic. More people keyword search Robert Helenius, JC Chavez Jr. and Sebastian Zbik than they do Berto. This is a guy who cannot draw fans, television ratings, or penny clicks for this goddamn website! Yet, there he is making more loot on an HBO main event. More power to him, I guess, since hustling is what this sport is all about….

  • thenonpareil

    @HitDog

    Sounds about right to me…Zaveck has looked okay against mediocre competition and Berto has looked good against mediocre competition. Berto has looked bad against good competition. So, who knows what the #$%^! is going on!

  • thenonpareil

    @HitDog

    Sounds about right to me…Zaveck has looked okay against mediocre competition and Berto has looked good against mediocre competition. Berto has looked bad against good competition. So, who knows what the #$%^! is going on!

  • thenonpareil

    @PhilS

    Conte can only have a positive effect on Berto, I think. Still, Berto’s a one-handed fighter, so a power boost won’t help with the predictability of his offense. Then again, if he lands with his right more often–and with more speed–than in the past, then Zaveck is toast with a little Nutella spread on top.

  • thenonpareil

    @PhilS

    Conte can only have a positive effect on Berto, I think. Still, Berto’s a one-handed fighter, so a power boost won’t help with the predictability of his offense. Then again, if he lands with his right more often–and with more speed–than in the past, then Zaveck is toast with a little Nutella spread on top.