Berto's new Pilates coach talks to Danny Flexen about the big fight
STRENGTH coach Tony Brady will not be working with Andre Berto ahead of the Haitian-American’s September 12 welterweight title challenge to Floyd Mayweather. Brady has long been associated with Virgil Hunter’s fighters but ahead of the biggest fight of Berto’s life, Pilates specialist Katie Ybarra has been brought into the fold, an expertise on flexibility and footwork making her ideal for what could be a pivotal role in this camp. Ybarra has worked with Hunter and pound-for-pound contender Andre Ward for around nine years and the trainer is hopeful she will work her magic on another of his charges, Amir Khan, in future. Here, in her own words, are the areas in which her special brand of training could help Berto prepare for Mayweather.
Stability and Flexibility
Core stability training is great for for balance which is huge in boxing. We are doing a lot of core training and flexibility training. I actually think Pilates is perfect for boxing because there is so much core involved. High-performance individuals generally have all their power muscles and are very strong, but Pilates gives them an extra edge; they were probably only working to 80 per cent of their capabilities. Pilates works the smaller muscles, the postural muscles, so you are working the hole set. Most importantly for Berto is that he’s a smaller tighter fighter, so we are doing a lot of torso flexibility training and lat stretching, to keep that reach. Before we even knew this Mayweather fight would happen, we could see what Berto was lacking. He’s had injuries to his shoulder and is so tightly bound. Virgil kept saying his punches would stop short – that’s the injuries, so we want to keep his shoulder capsule strong and safe, extend his flexibility throughout the whole torso so as to increase his range and power.
For footwork Pilates does help. Virgil was always adamant that doing footwork was really important but I never really got it before. It’s imperative that Berto has that flexibility in his ankles and feet and Pilates has a strong footwork component,
A lot of times with Berto we focus on breathing, which is physical of course but is also a way of calming the nervous system and keeping him balanced with everything that’s going on. There’s a lot of centering, keeping calm. The mental side is a huge component of Pilates, specifically for Berto.