And the winner is …
At least on Tuesday he was. Berto was chosen as Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s opponent on Sept. 12 at the MGM Grand Garden on Showtime Pay Per View.
Mayweather, the welterweight world champion and boxing’s pound-for-pound king, made the announcement Tuesday on social media through his Twitter account, which boasts 6.3 million followers, and Instagram account.
“I’m ready to get back in the ring Sept. 12 and prove to the whole world why I’m ‘The Best Ever,'” Mayweather (48-0, 26 knockouts) said in a statement. “I always bring my A-game, and this fight against Andre Berto is no exception. He’s a young, strong fighter who is hungry to take down the best. Forty-eight have tried before, and on Sept. 12, I’m going to make it 49.”
An announcement on public sale for tickets will be made in the next couple of days. The pay-per-view cost will be $74.95 in high definition and $64.95 for standard definition.
Mayweather, 38, has said this will be the final fight of his career. He has indicated several times that he wants to leave boxing healthy and with his faculties intact. Perhaps he can lend some clarity to his future at a news conference Thursday in Los Angeles to discuss the fight.
Mayweather is returning to the ring on the heels of the richest fight in boxing history. On May 2 at the Grand Garden, he handled Manny Pacquiao with ease, winning a 12-round unanimous decision in their welterweight unification title fight.
The fight set records for live gate ($72.3 million), pay-per-view buys (4.4 milion) and PPV sales ($440 million).
Mayweather will be fighting an opponent who lost three of four bouts from 2011 to 2013, including against Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero — two welterweights Mayweather handled with ease. Berto has won his past two fights and is 30-3 with 23 knockouts.
Mayweather’s manager, Leonard Ellerbe, said Berto is a worthy challenger. The 31-year-old is a former World Boxing Council welterweight champion who held the title from June 2008 to April 2011, when he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Ortiz.
“Andre Berto is a powerful fighter who presents a real danger to Floyd,” Ellerbe said. “He will have to use all his skills to slow Berto down.”
Berto is understandably excited for an opportunity for a big payday and a chance to put the only dent in Mayweather’s record. But he faces a stout challenge.
The MGM Resorts sports books made Mayweather a minus-5,000 favorite. He is minus-4,000 at Westgate Las Vegas and minus-2,400 at William Hill.
Mayweather had plenty of other suitors. Amir Khan badly wanted to fight him, as did Karim Mayfield. Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Timothy Bradley and Gennady Golovkin expressed interest.
But in choosing Berto, Mayweather will face an experienced fighter who has been a world champion and is orthodox instead of a southpaw.
“I’m coming to kick Floyd’s ass on Sept. 12,” Berto said. “Best believe I plan to bring it to Floyd, and I’m not concerned about what 48 other fighters have been unable to do.
“Somebody is going to get knocked out, and it won’t be me.”
Berto’s other loss is to Jesus Soto-Karass. He has fought twice in the past year, winning a 10-round unanimous decision against Steve Chambers on Sept. 6, and scoring a sixth-round technical knockout over Josesito Lopez on March 13. The Lopez fight was on national TV as part of the Premier Boxing Champions on Spike Television, the venture Mayweather adviser Al Haymon is overseeing.
The fight will be the sixth and final one of Mayweather’s deal with Showtime that was signed in February 2013. Showtime will reactivate its “All Access” reality show for the fight.
The main pay-per-view undercard fights, both for world titles, also were announced Tuesday.
Roman “Rocky” Martinez (29-2-2, 17 KOs), the World Boxing Organization super featherweight champ, will face Orlando Salido (42-13-2, 29 KOs) in a rematch of their April 11 fight in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Martinez won a 12-round unanimous decision.
In the other title fight, Las Vegas resident Badou Jack (19-1-1, 12 KOs) will meet George Groves (21-2, 16 KOs) in the first defense of his WBC super middleweight belt.
The pay-per-view telecast will begin at 5 p.m. Before the telecast, Las Vegas’ Ishe Smith, a former International Boxing Federation junior middleweight champion, will meet Vanes Martirosyan in a 10-round bout.
But all eyes will be on Mayweather as he attempts to tie Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0. Will it indeed be his final fight? Or will he look to extend his career into 2016 and be the first fighter at the new $375 million, 20,000-seat MGM-AEG arena, which will be completed in April?
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him: @stevecarprj