W. Haven’s Berto Drops Close Fight

Published Monday, March 22, 2004
W. Haven’s Berto Drops Close Fight

Ledger Correspondent

Winter Haven welterweight boxer Andre “Mike” Berto had to settle for
silver Saturday night.

Fighting as a member of the Haitian national team, Berto lost a close
decision to United States team fighter Vanes Martirosyan for the
152-pound title at the Americas Regional Olympic Qualifier in Tijuana,

The judges scored it 24-21.

“It was kind of an anti-climatic thing,” said Winter Haven
trainer-coach Tony Morgan. “Mike already knew he had won a spot in the
Olympic games, and I don’t know how much he was up to it.”

Martirosyan had lost to Berto in the USA Team Trials in February, but
the decision was erased by a ruling on an earlier fight.

Berto has lived and trained in the United States and was fighting for
Haiti because his parents are from Haiti. Ironically, Martirosyan had
lived most of his life in Armenia and moved to the U.S. with his
family as a young boxer.

“We’re looking to meeting him again,” Morgan said. “Only this time, it
will be in Athens.”

Under the regional qualifying rules, the top two boxers advanced to
the August Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

“There were some walkovers in the finals,” Morgan said. “People just
didn’t fight because they didn’t have anything to prove.

“But Mike wanted to fight for the experience and for pride.”

Morgan said he knew the decision was going to be close. “A lot of the
people there thought it was a bid decision. I know how fight judging
can be, so I was ready to accept whatever they said.”

Berto was the only member of a six-fighter Haitian team to qualify for
the Olympics. The other five could still earn a trip to Greece at
another regional qualifier in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, beginning April
4. Eight members of the United States team advanced to the Olympic

“We had talked some about going to Rio, but now we won’t have to,”
Morgan said.

The welterweight bout was an active one, as indicated by the high

“The other kid held a lot, and we took our medicine,” said Morgan,
also the trainer-manager of the Winter Haven Police Athletic League

The first round was even, according to Morgan.

“It was very intense after that. Mike won the second round and Vanes
won the third. I believe Vanes was ahead by three points after three

A hard-punching boxer, Berto had dominated two early opponents in the
regionals. “He hurt everybody he fought,” Morgan said. “Nobody hurt

Berto’s plans are to take a day or two off. He was scheduled to return
to Winter Haven today.

“We’ll start trailing with some light workouts and roadwork, and then
work harder for about a month or so,” Morgan said.

“Then, we’ll go into intense training for the Olympics.”