A former two-time 147-pound beltholder, Berto (28-2, 22 knockouts) will try to rebound from November’s unanimous decision loss to Robert Guerrero against hard-charging Jesus Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KOs), who is coming off January’s upset majority decision over Turkey’s Selcuk Aydin.
The loss was just the second straight for Aydin (24-2, 17 KOs) following July’s unanimous decision setback against Guerrero, and helped Soto Karass to rebound from September’s eighth-round knockout loss to Marcos Maidana.
While Berto, 29, of Winter Haven, Fla., has lost battles to Guerrero and ex-titleholder Victor Ortiz and scored an eighth-round stoppage over southpaw ex-beltholder Carlos Quintana, Soto Karass has suffered memorable losses to Mike Jones (twice), as well as ex-beltholder Yuri Foreman and Gabriel Rosado, Alfonso Gomez and Freddy Hernandez, the latter of whom was stopped in the first round by Berto.
“Berto and Soto Karass is a helluva fight. Soto Karass just came off of a great win against Aydin and he is one of the toughest fighters, pound-for-pound. Meanwhile, you have Andre Berto, who is one of the ultimate warriors in the sport, and who has been involved with the Quintana fight and the Guerrero fight, most recently, and, also, with the Victor Ortiz fight,” said Schaefer.
“So Berto has been involved in three Fight of The Year candidates, and he’s one of the most exciting fighters in the sport. With Soto Karass, he’s going to be paired up with somebody who is a strong, forward-coming guy who doesn’t know the word quit. So he will certainly be difficult coming off of that great win over Aydin. There will definitely be fireworks, I can guarantee it.”
A 24-year-old from Clearwater, Fla., Thurman (20-0, 18 KOs) will face Argentina’s hammer-fisted Diego Chaves (22-0, 18 KOs). Chaves, who will turn 27 on April 7, will be in pursuit of his sixth consecutive knockout victory.
Thurman, meanwhile, is coming off last month’s unanimous decision rout of Jan Zaveck at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Although Thurman failed to notch his ninth-straight knockout victory against Zaveck, he won, 120-108, on all three judges’ cards. Prior to facing Zaveck, Thurman scored November’s fourth-round knockout over Quintana.
“I’m old school. I want to be an old-school champion. I want to be that Sugar Ray Leonard type of champion. That Tommy Hearns type of champion,” said Thurman during a post-fight interview with RingTV.com.
Thurman-Zaveck took place on the undercard of an HBO-televised unanimous decision victory by 48-year-old former RING light heavyweight and middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins that dethroned IBF 175-pound titleholder Tavoris Cloud.
“Talk about fireworks, we might actually call the card ‘Fireworks,’ because there is also going to be Keith Thurman, one of the most explosive punchers in the sport,” said Schaefer. “Keith is fighting one of the strongest guys and exciting guys as well in Diego Chaves, who is the 147-pound WBA interim titleholder. So Keith Thurman is going to have a good fight. That’s going to be a triple-header as well, so we’ll be announcing a third fight on that shortly.”
Russell informed RingTV.com last month that he could be out of the ring for “six-to-eight weeks” following a diagnosis of a hairline fracture in his left hand, which occurred during his unanimous-decision rout of Vyacheslav Gusev on March 2.
LAMONT PETERSON-LUCAS MATTHYSSE, DEVON ALEXANDER-KELL BROOK ON MAY 18
Not only will IBF junior welterweight beltholder Lamont Peterson (31-1-1, 16 KOs) make his second defense against RING No. 1-rated 140-pounder Lucas Matthysse on May 18 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Showtime, but IBF welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs) will be matched against Englishman Kell Brook (29-0, 19 KOs), and 147-pounders Shawn Porter (20-0-1, 14 KOs) and Canadian Phil LoGreco (25-0, 14 KOs) will fight each other.
Peterson is coming off February’s eighth-round stoppage of ex-titleholder Kendall Holt at The D.C. Armory in his Washington, D.C., and is 4-0-1, with three knockouts since falling to current WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley by unanimous decision in December of 2009.
Peterson earned his belt via a disputed split-decision victory which dethroned two-division titlewinner Amir Khan as IBF and WBA titleholder in December of 2011. Khan was subsequently knocked out by current RING, WBA and WBC 140-pound champion Danny Garcia in the fourth round in July of 2012.
Matthysse (33-2, 31 KOs) has had five straight stoppage wins since sandwiching disputed decision losses to left-handers Zab Judah and Alexander in June of 2010 and June of 2011, respectively, around an eighth-round stoppage of southpaw DeMarcus Corley in January of 2011. Matthysse is coming off January’s first-round knockoutt of Mike Dallas Jr.
Alexander is coming off October’s unanimous decision over hard-punching Randall Bailey which followed his win over Matthysse and his unanimous decision over Maidana in February of last year, respectively.
Brook was last in the ring in October as well, when he scored a third-round stoppage of Hector David Saldivia.
Porter is coming off December’s draw with former two-time lightweight beltholder Julio Diaz, and LoGreco rose from a first-round knockdown for November’s seventh-round stoppage of Daniel Sostre, LoGreco’s second consecutive knockout victory.
MARCOS MAIDANA-JOSESITO LOPEZ TRIPLEHEADER ON JUNE 8
Rugged super middleweight and Cameroon native Sakio Bika (31-5-2, 21 KOs) will pursue his fourth straight win and his third knockout during that run against Mexico’s Marco Antonio Periban (20-0, 13 KOs) on the June 8 undercard of a welterweight main event featuring Maidana (33-3, 30 KOs) and Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs) at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
ADRIEN BRONER-PAULIE MALIGNAGGI, JOHNATHON BANKS-SETH MITCHELL ON JUNE 22
When WBC lightweight titleholder Adrien “The Problem” Broner rises to meet WBA welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Schaefer said heavyweight Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs) will have a return bout with Johnathon Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs).
Coming off a second-round knockout to Banks in November, Mitchell’s Feburary return bout with his rival was canceled after Banks suffered a broken right thumb.
“That might be a tripleheader,” said Schaefer. “But that’s not confirmed.”
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Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org