Training regimen has Berto confident on eve of title defense
TAMPA - Rocky Balboa would be proud. The boxing character brought to life by Sylvester Stallone would listen in with great pride while hearing the details of Andre Berto's recent training camp. Berto, the WBC welterweight champion from Winter Haven, opted to stay home in preparation for tonight's showdown against Juan Urango (21-1, 16 KOs) at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. The fight will air live on HBO's Boxing After Dark. The broadcast opens with the Alfred Angulo-Kermit Cintron matchup at 9:45 p.m."The backyard of our gym looks like a boot camp," said longtime Berto trainer Tony Morgan. "From sledgehammers to hurdle jumps to tire flips, rope climbs. It's just a little bit of everything. We mixed all kinds of stuff in." That includes Berto's brother Cleveland, a California-based personal trainer, who helped out. According to Morgan, the change brought about some serious soreness and a bit of agitation from Berto (24-0, 19 KOs). Thus far, it appears worth it. "We had probably one of the best camps I've ever had," Berto said during Thursday's press conference. "I stayed away from everything. We were extremely focused. I know how important this fight is and I know how big this fight is and I took it extremely, extremely serious." That's something the uphill-in-snow running, log-carrying, wood-chopping Balboa would appreciate. Tonight is also a chance for Berto to bounce back from his last fight, against Luis Collazo. In his second title defense, Berto had to put together a busy 12th round to keep his belt via a 116-111, 114-113, 114-113 unanimous decision. Urango, who has a hard-punching style, can be a problem if allowed to be, Morgan admitted. Urango's lone loss came to Ricky Hatton in a 12-round unanimous decision in 2007. Berto fully understands the challenge Urango brings. "Like I said, I think I'm probably in the best shape I've ever been in in a long time," Berto said. "I feel strong, I feel fast. Pretty much everything has been coming together." The first week of training proved to be torture, but as the camp moved along, those seemingly random exercises outside of the ring began to transition inside it. "As he got used to it and he applied different things to sparring, he realized he was stronger and moving guys around and actually sharper than what he was in past sessions," Morgan said. It's that ability to adapt that leads Morgan to believe Berto will be defending his crown for a long time to come.
Reporter Eddie Daniels can be reached at (813) 259-7066.