Guerrero, Berto Wage War for Interim WBC Title
Lou Eisen / November 25, 2012 - 3:11pm
This was a war. It was fought in twelve three-minute increments but it was still a war nonetheless. Andre Berto and Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero staged a pitched battle for every minute of every round, with both gladiators refusing to take a single backward step while hanging tough and grunting it out in the trenches. It was a tough, grueling, very hard fought and brutal fight that will be remembered for years to come. This was the quintessential punishing phone-booth brawl, with fans on their feet screaming their lungs out at the level of fistic carnage they were witnessing.
It was an instant, modern day classic and a certain fight of the year candidate. Both men were blinded by the end of the fight and unable to see each other but still kept throwing huge shots until the bell sounded (and beyond) to end the 12th and final round.
This fight had it all. Action, hand speed, grit, determination, power, courage and an unwavering will to win that propelled both warriors to new heights. Former featherweight and lightweight world champion Guerrero's unanimous decision victory on all three judge's scorecards was earned with a gutsy effort reminiscent of Carmen Basilio in his prime. Both men stood toe-to-toe for 12 rounds, heads resting on each other's shoulders while throwing and landing monster shots on each other's mugs that would have instantly ended any other welterweight in the world today.
The Berto-Guerrero scrap set new levels of savagery as it was fought at very close quarters with both fighters intent on inflicting some serious damage. At the end of the fight, Berto, Guerrero and their fans were completely drained. This bout has The Fight Network's vote for Fight of The Year. The Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado fight was equally brutal but it lasted seven rounds whereas Berto-Guerrero went the full twelve rounds.
From the outset Guerrero tried frantically to impose his will on Berto and succeeded for various periods in the fight, with Berto climbing back into the fight in the later rounds by standing against the ropes, blind in both eyes, and fighting back purely on instinct. Berto needs room to punch with his long arms, and Guerrero was determined to smother him from the first bell. Berto fought back effectively from the ropes when he shortened up his punches, and found an inviting target for his right uppercut.
Guerrero was unable to avoid Berto's vicious right uppercuts throughout this barnburner while his chin held up beautifully with each booming shot Berto landed. Guerrero made no attempts to avoid Berto's uppercuts, as he was willing to concede that opening to Berto in exchange for preventing Berto from landing any other punches of note.
Ultimately it was "The Ghost," Guerrero who emerged triumphant on the inside, finally able to impose his will on his beaten, battered and exhausted ring foe. A former two-time welterweight world champion, Berto's countless thundering right uppercuts on southpaw Guerrero's chin should have had some effect over the course of the fight but Guerrero was never in danger of going down. One factor worth noting is that because he was trapped on the ropes for most of the fight, Berto was unable to bend at the waist or use his legs enough to generate significant leverage on his punches. Still he did manage to ring Guerrero's bell during the fight but never had him hurt or ever in danger of going down.
Before the match, many skeptics were wondering if Guerrero would be able to bring his punching power up three weight divisions. Well, Guerrero answered that question favorably in the first two rounds. The incredible and much more impressive thing about Guerrero is that he carried his chin up three weight divisions from featherweight to welterweight.
Berto is a feared knockout artist with a lot of stellar knockouts to his credit. He has stopped many top flight welters with his resounding power but Guerrero took everything Berto could dish out and still came forward relentlessly, pounding Berto's body and then bringing his game upstairs to rattle right and left hands off of Berto's exposed chin. Other than Guerrero, there is no welterweight fighter in the world today who could have withstood Berto's titanic right uppercuts and still finished the fight on his feet.
Berto hit the canvas in the first round from a good counter left hand. Berto shook it off and arose immediately, itching to get back into the fray. It is still baffling how fighters today never take full advantage of the extra seconds they have to recover when they are knocked down. The fight changed at that exact moment. When Berto got up, Guerrero raced towards him and held him against the ropes for the next 11 rounds. Guerrero saw a flaw in Berto's armor and rushed to exploit it and showed his ring generalship in doing so.
The left hand Guerrero threw to drop Berto in both the first and second rounds was aided by the fact that he was holding Berto around the neck with his right hand at the time of the knockdowns. Referee Lou Moret did a terrible job all night long, allowing both men to foul each other at will. Moret warned both Berto and Guerrero intermittently during the fight and never developed any consistency to his calls, which sometimes made for odd stoppages during the fight with Moret stopping the action to warn both men.
Berto threw a litany of rabbit punches to the back of Guerrero's head during the fight, which served to elicit a chorus of boos from the pro Guerrero crowd. The fight took place in Ontario, California and Guerrero is a native of California. Guerrero is a southpaw and the wisdom on facing a southpaw dictates that you circle away from his left hand. Berto never had a chance to implement any strategy because Guerrero jumped on him immediately midway during the first round.
Punchers like Berto need room to land their power punches and Guerrero smartly took that room away from Berto by pinning him against the ropes for the entire fight, often forcing his Haitian born foe's hands by his side. Berto thought the warnings for rabbit punching were excessive and said as much after the fight. He felt that the referee was preventing him from fighting his kind of fight.
Guerrero dropped Berto again in the second round with a left hand that landed directly on Berto's right eye, causing it to swell shut immediately. From that point on, Berto was a one-eyed fighter. That didn't even last long as Berto's left eye began to swell shut a few rounds later. Berto deserves much credit for his professionalism in continuing to fight blind for the remainder of the bout. He fought his heart out and made Guerrero earn every round he won. The fight was closer than the scorecards indicated as Berto staged a furious comeback as the fight wore on, forcing Guerrero to savagely fight for every minute of each round.
At the beginning of the first round, Berto fought out of a stance similar to that of Adrien Broner and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Berto held his left shoulder up high to protect against straight shots aimed directly at his chin. Guerrero is an incredibly smart ring veteran and instantly knew how to counter Berto's stance. Guerrero took advantage of his southpaw style by circling to his right, forcing Berto to turn, and then catching him high on the head with straight lefts and right hook combinations. Berto was subjected to a 14-month layoff before the fight and definitely showed some ring rust in the first half of the fight. Most boxing experts were surprised to say the least when Guerrero dropped Berto twice in the first two rounds. No one thought Guerrero had enough power in his arsenal at this higher weight to drop a top-flight welterweight like Berto.
Berto is a well-worn fighter at the age of 29. He has been through some hellacious wars and it is starting to show in his performances. Perhaps the lay-off helped Berto recover from several previous wars, most noticeably his ferocious brawl with Victor Ortiz. The fact that his right eye was swollen shut so soon in the fight was a definite disadvantage but that is boxing. He showed poise and savvy in continuing to fight on in the face of such debilitating adversity. Berto's chin is now suspect and he would do well to avoid the other bangers in his division. At this point, it looks like his best days are behind him.
Guerrero showed that he is a man to be reckoned with at 147 lbs. He called out Mayweather Jr. after the fight but fights today are often decided by which fighter can put sell the most seats and not many people think Guerrero-Mayweather Jr. would sell well. If Guerrero can keep winning fights in such dramatic fashion though, Mayweather Jr. may very well grant him his wish.