Timothy Bradley will defend the WBO welterweight title he won from Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 15 at Marlins Park in Miami.
While an opponent has yet to be officially signed for the HBO-televised fight, former welterweight titleholder Andre Berto has emerged as the most probable candidate.
“We’re trying to lock in Berto,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told SI.com on Friday. “HBO is working on it right now. If all things come together over the next couple days that’s what we’re looking at.”
Bradley (29-0-0, 12 KOs), currently No. 8 in SI.com’s pound-for-pound ratings, won a highly controversial split decision over Pacquiao on June 9 to capture the title. The Palm Springs, Calif., native has since recovered from injuries to his left foot and right ankle sustained in the fight.
“From a dates point of view it works out OK for him,” Moretti said.
Berto (28-1-0, 22 KOs) won the WBC welterweight title with a technical knockout of Miguel Angel Rodriguez in June 2008, making five successful defenses before losing it to Victor Ortiz in April 2011. That bout was widely regarded as a Fight of the Year candidate, prompting a much-anticipated rematch scheduled for June 23 in Los Angeles.
But the Miami native tested positive for the steroid norandrosterone in May and was dropped from the card. Berto has since had his license reinstated by the California State Athletic Commission.
Interestingly, Bradley and Berto faced off previously at the 2003 National Golden Gloves championships in Las Vegas, where Berto earned a unanimous decision in the junior middleweight final to win a national title and place in the Olympic trials.
– Bryan Armen Graham