By Rick Reeno
WBC interim-welterweight champion Robert Guerrero (30-1-1, 18KOs) arrived in Las Vegas on Monday night to begin the most important training camp of his entire career. On November 24th, Guerrero will defend his title against former two-time beltholder Andre Berto (28-1, 22KOs) in an HBO televised main event at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California. Both Berto and Guerrero have agreed to have USADA [United States Anti-Doping Agency] regulate a random drug testing protocol.
Guerrero-Berto will headline a big tripleheader, with unbeaten Sharif Bogere facing Richard Abril in a clash for the vacant WBA lightweight title, and junior middleweight puncher Keith Thurman will face former champion Carlos Quintana.
Guerrero sat down with BoxingScene.com to discuss the high profile fight with Berto.
BoxingScene.com: Robert, what are your thoughts on this fight being made?
Guerrero: I'm excited. I just can't wait to get back in the ring. Man, I'm just pumped up to get in that fight and going out there to take care of business. I'm in camp right now and I just can't wait to really go work on fight night.
BoxingScene.com: You've been calling for a marquee fight for a long time. Now you have that fight.
Guerrero: Oh yeah. This is type of fight that I've been looking for since day one and It's coming around. I'm also looking for the biggest fight. This isn't the biggest fight, but it's a big fight and I'm excited about it. Having a guy in front of me is always exciting.
BoxingScene.com: Obviously you are very familiar with Berto. Do you see any flaws in his style that clearly stand out?
Guerrero: I've been watching him since they first started airing his fights on Showtime. I've seen his ESPN fights. I see a lot of stuff that's never changed, that's never improved. I'm going to capitalize on what I know and what I can take advantage of. It's exciting to know what I can do in the ring and be able to do in the ring, with capitalizing on it.
BoxingScene.com: Berto doesn't seem to be impressed with your power at 147-pounds. And he wasn't moved by your recent decision win over Selcuk Aydin.
Guerrero: It doesn't matter if he's impressed with me or not. He still has to fight me. Not thinking I can punch, or this and that, or not being impressed with what I did to Aydin........I fought the guy that he side-stepped for three years and beat him. I fought a guy who can take a punch, and can give a punch, and has never been down in his whole career - as an amateur or a pro - he's been to the Olympics and had over 400 amateur fights - and a guy who was undefeated, a guy who is game and a guy who is coming to win. I hit him with some shots and he didn't go down. I don't think anybody would have put him down that night. For [Berto] to think I can't punch, he's going to find out in the ring.
Put it this way, he thinks Victor Ortiz took him to the limit - I'm going to take him over the limit.
BoxingScene.com: In Berto's two toughest fights, against Luis Collazo and Victor Ortiz, they quickly pushed the tempo and went after him in the very first round. Do you plan to follow the same strategy?
Guerrero: I have my own strategy and I just can't wait to go out and put it to work. To see him out there with Collazo, a guy who can't crack an egg, and he almost had [Berto] out on his feet. When I see that, I don't need to be a big puncher.
BoxingScene.com: There have been questions raised about Berto's chin and his ability to take a big punch. Is that a question that you plan answer sooner than later in the fight?
Guerrero: I want to explore that throughout the whole fight. Question? There is no question. That has already been answered. I've seen him hit the canvas in a few fights. That question was answered long before and now it's like Amir Khan - you have to tailor your style around your chin.
BoxingScene.com: Berto does have fast hands and he is strong guy. What do you consider to be his biggest strengths?
Guerrero: He does have speed. He does have power too, and he uses it very well. It's just a matter of being prepared and preparation is the key to victory. You just have to be well prepared for that. He does have speed and he does have power and you must have respect for every fighter when you get in the ring.
BoxingScene.com: This is your first seven figure payday. Was it a long time coming?
Guerrero: Being in my shoes, nobody want to fight. And when nobody wants to fight you, you don't get nowhere.
[Guerrero's co-manager Bob Santos chimed in] - Robert has never had it easy. Robert has earned every single penny of his million dollars. That is going to be the difference. Berto has been given his paydays. Berto has been given his opponents. Robert has earned this money. Come November 24th, we're going to see what happens when the going gets tough. We're going to find out who Andre Berto really is. I think Robert has benefited from not being fed these hand-picked guys his whole career.
BoxingScene.com: Being in there against a high profile opponent like Berto, is there additional pressure to perform well.
Guerrero: There is always that pressure, performance-wise, because you are always as good as your last fight. You always want to go out and give that performance not just for the media members, but to please the fans - because the fans are the real people who benefit from watching great fights. You always want to come out and put on a great show. You always want to come out and beat the guy down and that's what I love doing - coming out to beat dudes down.