American Floyd Mayweather has defended picking Andre Berto as his opponent in what could be his last ever fight. The unbeaten champion, 38, faces fellow countryman Berto in Las Vegas on 12 September, and could extend his winning run to 49 fights. Berto, 31, a former world champion, was a surprise choice given his fall down boxing’s pecking order in recent years. However, Mayweather told a news conference: “I chose Berto because he’s very exciting.” The final match-up of a six-fight deal with broadcaster Showtime, it could be WBC and WBA welterweight champion Mayweather’s final time in the ring. Many critics accused Mayweather of picking an easy fight on which to cement his unbeaten legacy – Berto has lost three of his last six contests. “Berto is a tough competitor, a former world champion. Every time he goes out he gives it 100%,” said Mayweather. “He’s been given backlash. I’ve been given backlash. But Andre Berto is going to push Floyd Mayweather to the limit.”
Berto’s trainer Virgil Hunter also defended Mayweather’s selection, saying: “When you look at that weight division, only one stands out, the rest is opinions. Andre Bento is deserving of this opportunity.” However, Berto, who said he was not surprised to be chosen to fight Mayweather, was more philosophical, telling the gathering: “We should probably have had this fight a few years back but everything happens for a reason and the time is now.” Meanwhile, Britain’s George Groves will fight Sweden’s Badou Jack on the undercard for the WBC super-middleweight title. It will be the English 27-year-old’s third world title challenge, following two losses to Carl Froch. But he is hopeful of taking the belt from Jack: “It will be third time lucky this time,” he said.