- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto has hired a new trainer -- 2011 trainer of the year Virgil Hunter -- and has been working out with him at his Oakland, Calif.-area gym for the past few weeks.
"I know I have all the talent in world. Now it's time to fine-tune the skill set," Berto told ESPN.com. "Virg is someone I've known since I was a kid, along with a few other coaches I went to interview. I wanted stick with familiar faces that I've had that relationship with and that have watched me from the amateur system [until] now. We're testing things out with this fight and seeing where things go. As of right now, I've been having a great camp. I am excited."
Berto's first fight with Hunter will come July 27 in the main event of a Showtime-televised card at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Berto (28-2, 22 KOs) will face battle-tested veteran Jesus Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KOs).
Berto will try to rebound from a clear decision loss in November in an interim title bout against Robert Guerrero, who dropped him twice in a fairly dominant performance. That fight came after Berto had been out of the ring for 14 months, largely because of a failed random prefight drug test in the lead-up to a rematch with Victor Ortiz.
The loss to Guerrero was Berto's second defeat in his past three fights, including a decision loss that cost him his world title against Ortiz in April 2011 (although he bounced back and won a belt against Jan Zaveck). After the loss to Guerrero, Berto parted ways with career-long trainer Tony Morgan. They had been together for nearly 20 years, including Berto's amateur career that culminated with a berth on the 2004 Haitian Olympic team.
There was chaos in Berto's corner during his losses, and it was obvious that a change had to be made -- not to mention the fact that Berto, 29, needs to improve defensively.
Berto hopes that Hunter will be the man to help him. The fighter said that before hiring Hunter he got the blessing from the trainer's main client, super middleweight champion Andre Ward.
"I had to give my good friend Dre Ward a call, and he also gave me a lot of input and direction," Berto said. "He's one that loves his privacy. But he also gave me his blessing with open arms. We've known each other since our teenage years, so it feels great joining the camp. I am in the Bay Area now training with Virg. Actually, I made the decision about a month ago."
Former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto has hired a new trainer -- 2011 trainer of the year Virgil Hunter -- and has been working out with him at his Oakland, Calif.