Andre Berto announced Monday he is pulling out of his Jan. 30 welterweight fight with Shane Mosley, saying the the destruction in his native Haiti -- during which he reports that he "lost several relatives" -- has left him "physically and mentally exhausted."
What can you do about that? Berto said he couldn't fight in this state, and obviously my sympathies are with him. Mosley's team says he can understand Berto's decision. For boxing fans, it's a total bummer. Since it was signed, Mosley-Berto has been one of the most looked-forward to fights on the 2010 calendar, and the bumpy ride boxing has taken its fans on lately continues unabated. For people who were planning to attend live, it's a double-bummer because there was a pretty good undercard scheduled, too.
Golden Boy Promotions says this improves the possibility that Floyd Mayweather will meet Mosley, likelier in May than a March 13 duel with Manny Pacquiao's own pay-per-view. I bet it gets moved back. And it's a tremendous fight, it really is, which is why everyone's wanted to see it for so damn long, and would be smart for business reasons because Mosley is a far better opponent for Mayweather than Joshua Clottey is for Pacquiao. Will I be surprised if Mayweather-Mosley ever happens? Totally. There were serious reports earlier today that Mayweather was in real talks with 19-year-old prospect Saul Alvarez, a fight that when first raised every Mayweather fan was like, "No way, that's just a ploy!" That such a woeful mismatch would even be in talks tells you everything you need to know about Mayweather's fighting spirit.
It'll be a pleasant surprise if I'm wrong. Mayweather-Mosley isn't Mayweather-Pacquiao, but it's about the next best thing.
[UPDATE: David Mayo seems to think Berto took some step-aside money to get out of the way of Mayweather-Mosley, although he doesn't offer any direct knowledge or say that he even knows it to be the case -- just lots of strong hinting. It's a possibility that has to be considered, but until I see otherwise, I'll presume that Berto's expressed motive is authentic.]
[UPDATE II: Some commenters have raised a very fair point about whether Mosley should have some kind of tune-up fight. After all, if the fight is in May, he would be coming off a nearly 16-month layoff. That's not a good move for a 38-year-old man; even an ageless boxer like Bernard Hopkins showed symptoms of ring rust in his return to the ring after a lengthy layoff. Ideally, that tune-up would have been a replacement opponent for Jan. 30. There is cause to wonder why that didn't happen. And if Mosley looks terrible against Mayweather, there will be critics who wonder if this all wasn't by design, given Mayweather's history of taking fights when an opponent is at some disadvantage before the bell even rings. Also, it's possible the fight could be later in May than May 1, the date that had been talked about. There's a UFC event scheduled for May 1, and while Mayweather-Mosley probably crushes it, there's no need to go head-to-head when both events would prosper better on different nights -- especially with this many months to decide matters.]