Andre Berto, Josesito Lopez both ready to step into spotlight

Andre Berto has been involved in some exciting fights. The two-time 147-pound world champion was defeated in three of them, however, hitting the canvas a combined five times. Veteran contender Josesito Lopez plans to make it four losses Friday night.

Andre Berto and Josesito Lopez

Josesito Lopez and Andre Berto will meet in a 147-pound clash Friday night live on Spike TV.

Berto (29-3, 22 KOs) doesn’t plan on taking many backward steps during his 147-pound clash with Lopez (33-6, 19 KOs) when the two men meet in the ring as part of the first Premier Boxing Champions card on Spike TV, airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The 31-year-old Berto, who first won a world title in June 2008 by beating Miguel Angel Rodriguez, said he would tweak his strategy against the aggressive Lopez while still producing some “fireworks” of his own.

"Everybody that sees me fight, everybody that has seen Lopez fight, it's going to be like we're fighting out here on the street," Berto said. "You're going to have guys that are motivated and ready to go. I don't think that there is going to be any added pressure at all [fighting before a national audience on Spike] because we've had a tremendous camp and I'm ready to put this work in on Friday night."

For the 30-year-old Lopez, a professional fighter since 2003, Friday night is his opportunity to improve his stock in the 147-pound division.

"I think a victory really opens every single door in the division, but a loss, we would have to take another step back," Lopez said. "That's what makes a bigger incentive for this fight and more motivation for both of us. I think that Berto can make a statement with a victory against me, and I feel the same way about beating him."

In his April 2011 loss to Victor Ortiz, Berto floored his opponent in the second and sixth rounds, but was dropped in the first and sixth en route to losing a 12-round unanimous decision in a brawl deemed The Ring’s Fight of the Year.

Against Robert Guerrero in November 2012, Berto was put on the canvas in the first and second rounds, and fought through eyes that were closed to the point of being slits in losing another 12-round unanimous decision.

Berto was leading on the scorecards and appearing to be on the way to winning when he floored Jesus Soto Karass in the 11th round in July 2013, but he was dropped in the 12th and subsequently stopped for the first time in his career as he lost by technical knockout.

Berto said he still was adjusting to training under Virgil Hunter against Soto Karass, having left his longtime trainer, Tony Morgan.

"We have implemented a lot of different things. I've had a lot of different issues in a lot of those fights that we've definitely had to work on, which is among the reasons that I've come over to Virgil from my old coach. We did great things together, me and Tony Morgan, but we lacked the technical aspect," Berto said.

"We were in a position where I just had tremendous talent and tremendous athleticism, and we just fed off of that. We went our whole career as an amateur and as a pro … not really depending on the technical aspects of boxing. Virgil Hunter is ridiculously meticulous and very technical, so we've worked on a lot of different situations that come up in the ring attack-wise and defensively."

Some of that was on display, Berto said, when he won a 10-round unanimous decision over Stephen Upsher Chambers in September to end his two-fight losing streak.

"With the Chambers fight, a lot of people were happy to see me establish my jab like I did. … We've worked a lot with the left hand as far as jabs, hooks and whatever the case may be," he said.

"That was a fight where I was able to brush off a lot of the cobwebs and use more of my legs and test out my right hand, making sure that it launched wherever I wanted it to go. We're in tremendous shape, and we're going to put it all together. This time, you're going to see a more complete Andre Berto."

Despite Berto’s talk of relying more on his boxing skills Friday night, Lopez expects his opponent to stand his ground and challenge him. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

"We've worked on things up until the week of the fight," Lopez said. "As far as the game plan, everything still remains the same. We'll be two warriors going at it come Friday night."

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