- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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While welterweight titlist Andre Berto trains for the biggest fight of his career, a Jan. 30 unification bout against Shane Mosley, his thoughts the past two days have understandably wandered from his preparation.
Berto is Haitian-American, and he is very concerned about what is happening on the Caribbean island, where a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the country on Tuesday.
Thousands are feared dead while rescue efforts continue in the poverty-stricken nation.
"I'm devastated by everything currently happening in Haiti," Berto said Wednesday. "As everybody knows, I have a lot of family members in Haiti and proudly represented Haiti in the 2004 Olympic Games. Like many other Haitian-Americans, my family and I are working to reach my loved ones. From what we have learned to this point, some of my family members are still missing and we have already been informed that members of my family have passed away in the earthquake."
Berto (25-0, 19 KOs) was born in the United States, but his parents were both born in Haiti before arriving in the United States as immigrants and settling in Winter Haven, Fla., where the 26-year-old still lives and trains.
Berto has been involved in Haitian charitable causes and has a foundation with offices in Port-au-Prince, the capital, which was hit very hard by the earthquake.
"Andre has a strong Haitian identity and has been involved with Haitian causes for a long time," said Lou DiBella, who has promoted Berto for his entire career. "His foundation's office has collapsed and he knows that members of his mother's family are missing and presumed dead. It's a bad situation."
DiBella said Berto has not broken camp while continuing to train for the bout, which will take place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
"He's training as hard as he can and trying to approach this fight with Mosley with a clear head, but right now he is personally distraught," DiBella said. "But I think he will turn that energy to his advantage because he knows that going out there and winning the fight will mean a lot to his Haitian fans and put him in a better position [financially] to help his people. He has friends and family all over Haiti, so pray for them. Pray for all the people of Haiti. My office is helping see what we can do."
Berto said he is figuring out what sort of help he can offer to his people.
"We are currently working on starting our own Haitian relief efforts, and I will be releasing additional information on how everyone can help very soon," Berto said. "I am asking everyone for their continued thoughts and prayers for the people in Haiti during this devastating time."
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.
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