LAS VEGAS • Andre Berto is the fall guy for pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather's supposedly final boxing fight, an opponent regarded as game but not having the quality to deviate from the script.
Berto is a massive underdog for Saturday's showdown against the unbeaten Mayweather, who will match the perfect 49-0 record of legendary heavyweight Rocky Marciano if he retains his welterweight world titles in Las Vegas.
Few give Berto, a former two-time title holder, much of a chance in what would be one of the greatest upsets in boxing history if he becomes the first man to stop Mayweather.
"I'm (in) the best shape I've ever been in," said a relaxed Berto (30-3, 23 KOs), vowing to go after the "crafty" Mayweather.
"I'm going to bring a combination of speed and power to the table and I believe I have better athletic ability (than Mayweather's previous opponents)," he said. "If I can take that (crown) away from him, that'd be huge. That's my mindset."
Berto, who turned 32 yesterday, tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2012, had shoulder surgery in 2013 that left him fearing for his career and is on a run of three defeats in his last six fights.
But the American says he is hungrier and better than ever after those troubled three years inside and outside the ring.
He refuses to say what some of the personal issues were and is coy on his injury problems too, but his highly respected trainer Virgil Hunter believes Berto's losses were more to do with his health than lack of talent.
Berto, an all-action fighter with a big heart who will reportedly pocket US$3 million (S$4.2 million) from the bout, did not box for over a year because of his shoulder and Hunter says the comeback from that - mentally and physically - is still not quite complete.
But Berto says he will show the MGM Grand crowd that he is "a whole different man" compared to 2013, when he only narrowly lost to journeyman Jesus Soto Karass despite being injured early in the bout. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE