Floyd Mayweather Jr., in a recent interview, named Andre Berto as a possible opponent for his next and — Mayweather says — final fight, which is set for September. No opponent for the 49th bout of Mayweather’s so-far undefeated career has yet been named, and speculation has floated around such names as British superstar Amir Khan or Kazakhstan knockout artist Gennady Golovkin.
So when Mayweather mentioned that he might conclude his career by fighting the 31-year-old Berto, a once-promising prospect now generally considered past his prime — and who has fought just twice in the last two years after a dismal run of three losses in four fights — most boxing experts greeted Mayweather’s suggestion with raised eyebrows.
But now, it appears that perhaps Mayweather may have a reason for wanting to get Berto in the ring — a reason that has little to do with boxing or even, as Mayweather is fond of mentioning, business.
Instead, the rivalry Mayweather feels toward Berto may have something to do with the pound-for-pound king’s former fiancee, Shantel Jackson.
Jackson is best known as one of five different women who have accused Floyd Mayweather Jr. of domestic violence, filing a lawsuit against the boxer alleging that he physically victimized her on a regular basis. Mayweather, of course, denies those accusations.
But, as it turns out, Shantel Jackson, 30, who now dates the rapper Nelly, is friends with Berto — and according to a report by TMZ Sports, the boxer believes that Mayweather is for some reason disturbed by their acquaintance.
So disturbed, Berto told the site, that Floyd Mayweather Jr. — the highest-paid athlete in the world — has been making crank phone calls to him, breathing heavily before hanging up.
“I know it’s him on the other line,” Berto said. “I can hear him breathing on the other end of the phone. Stop getting people to call my phone, bro, and asking me about this person and that person. Don’t do that s***. That s*** is lame, it’s corny. He has too much money for that.”
Mayweather, for his part, told TMZ through a rep that Berto is simply “delusional.”
“He’s not even on Floyd’s speed dial,” the Mayweather mouthpiece told the scandal-scooping site.
But is Berto simply trying to capitalize on Mayweather’s mention of him as a potential September opponent, trying to conjure up the appearance of bad blood between the two fighters, to make the fight — which would become the biggest payday of Berto’s 10-year pro career — more likely?
Most boxing fans would likely be profoundly unexcited by the prospect of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Andre Berto fight in the fall — or anytime — but Berto believes that he is, as he says, “one of the only guys who can match him speed for speed, and everyone knows me for having explosive power.”
[Images: Kevork Djansezian/Al Bello/Getty Images]