MIAMI – After the earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, Andre Berto realized that he could no longer concentrate on his bout against Shane Mosley that was less than three weeks away. He instead joined the relief effort.
Now, Berto is ready to resume his boxing career after an 11-month layoff.
Tonight, he will return to the ring in a welterweight title fight against Carlos Quintana of Puerto Rico.
The bout, at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., will be Berto’s fourth defense of his World Boxing Council welterweight belt and first since his decision over Juan Urango last May.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in the ring, but I’ve had tremendous sparring,” Berto said. “We are ready to go.”
Before the earthquake, Berto had finally found in Mosley the attention-grabbing bout that could have elevated his stock in the talent-rich welterweight division. But Berto, who was born in Miami and lives in Winter Haven, Fla., could not ignore the devastation that struck Haiti.
“I was in training camp in Central Florida and got the news coming out of the gym,” Berto said “I turned on CNN, but it was already getting dark. You really didn’t see the damage until the next morning.
Berto was “affected greatly” when he noticed the earthquake’s aftermath.
“I just was in a state of shock,” Berto said. “So many people buried under the rubble. At first I was concerned about a sister and her daughter, then other families in the Port- Au-Prince area.”
Berto’s sister and niece survived the tragedy, but the fighter also learned an uncle and his family died.
Soon after the postponement of his bout with Mosley, Berto flew to Haiti and assisted in the recovery effort. When he returned to the United States, Berto (25-0, 19 KOs) realized he needed to resume his career and raise awareness about Haiti’s plight.
As a result, proceeds from tickets sold for today’s bout will benefit the Haiti relief drive.
“I’ve been motivated since they made the fight,” Berto said. “This is a big fight in a big stage. Quintana is a solid pro and he also will come ready. I just want to set my dominance early.”
Although he fought his previous two bouts at the 154-pound weight class, Quintana (27-2, 21 KOs) agreed to return to the welterweight division and face Berto.
The 33-year-old Quintana enjoyed success as a welterweight.
He is the only fighter with a victory over Paul Williams, who is considered among boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters.