by Cliff Rold, photo by Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos
There are question marks on both sides of the ring. The biggest of them might be this: on Saturday night on HBO (10 PM EST/PST), are we watching the next opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
It would be nice if the fight could be enjoyed in a vacuum, but that’s not really possible. The economic incentive that is the Mayweather prize looms as a powerful shadow on this fight. Mayweather has been quiet of late unless one includes the lover’s quarrel with 50 Cent. It won’t be quiet forever.
A possible big-money clash at 154 lbs. with Saul Alvarez will be an option next year. The winner of this fight is Mayweather’s WBC mandatory at Welterweight.
Robert Guerrero was once mentioned as a foe for Mayweather and met derision. He can answer that on Saturday.
Andre Berto was on the cusp of Mayweather once before and got knocked off course by Victor Ortiz. One fight and a PED pop later, opportunity rings again.
So the stakes are high. That this looks like it could be a really good fight, on paper, can almost be forgotten.
If they deliver, it will be the first thing we remember.
Let’s go to the report card.
Previous Titles: IBF Featherweight (2006; 2007-09, 2 Defenses); IBF Super Featherweight (2009)
Weight: 146.4 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 137.15 lbs.
Hails from: Gilroy, California
Record: 30-1-1, 18 KO, 1 No Contest
BoxingScene Rank: #5 at Welterweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 5-0, 4 KO, 1 NC (7-0, 4 KO, 1 NC including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions Faced: 5 (Gamaliel Diaz L12, KO6; Eric Aiken RTD8; Orlando Salido NC; Malcolm Klassen UD12; Joel Casamayor UD10)
Previous Titles: WBC Welterweight (2008-11, 5 Defenses); IBF Welterweight (2011)
Weight: 146.8 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 145.9 lbs.
Hails from: Winter Haven, Florida
Record: 28-1, 22 KO
BoxingScene Rank: Unrated
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-1, 4 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 6 (Steve Forbes UD12; Luis Collazo UD12; Juan Urango UD12; Carlos Quintana TKO8; Victor Ortiz L12; Jan Zaveck RTD5)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Berto A; Guerrero B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Berto B+; Guerrero B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Berto C; Guerrero B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Berto B+; Guerrero B+
Again it’s noted: there are question marks on both sides of the ring. While Guerrero had a solid win against Selcuk Aydin in his Welterweight debut, Aydin is a less dynamic fighter than Berto. His chin is sturdier, but his overall talent is less. Guerrero, who started at Featherweight, was still at Lightweight two fights ago. Is he really a Welterweight?
Berto makes his first start since a nice, competitive affair with the underrated Zaveck. He’s had issues with his chin over the years but Berto’s assets, real pop and explosive speed, will remain…won’t they. Having been in trouble for PEDs, forcing the cancellation of the planned Ortiz rematch, one can wonder if Berto could come out flat. We have seen it before, fighters who suddenly seem to lose a step after a positive test. Will Berto still be Berto?
Even if he is, will he have enough game for Guerrero? While Berto does have some athletic traits to admire, he has some fistic deficiencies that have never quite been ironed out. Berto’s head movement is lacking and he often squares up. Both give openings for Guerrero.
And Guerrero is increasingly good at finding openings. It’s hard to believe he’s the same fighter who lost to Gamaliel Diaz and Orlando Salido (later overturned for PED use) years ago. Guerrero is a great example of the value of experience. He’s had rounds, progressions, and improved. Against Aydin, he was crisp and accurate and the jab from the southpaw puts in work. If he can get it going against Berto, he is capable of containing the speed.
But what about the pop? Berto showed against Ortiz that, even in a fog, he’s capable of putting another man down. Guerrero hasn’t faced anyone that can explode to target the way he can. This is a real, established Welterweight hitting back. Berto has stopped some solid Welterweights and, against men from lower on the weight scale like Forbes and Urango, he’s shown the ability to muscle too.
That ability could count. While Berto isn’t great at moving his head, he’s not unwilling to make it ugly. He will clinch and bull inside. If Guerrero has to fight in a mugging fashion, will he be able to land enough to win rounds?
This just looks like anyone’s fight. It should certainly be competitive. Guerrero at Welterweight still needs some selling, but so does Berto as recuperated from Ortiz. Assuming Berto has his form back after the Ortiz cancellation, and isn't flat, he's quicker and heavier handed if still with mediocre defense. Guerrero is a more consistent boxer and can make a lot happen off the jab. Given the explosiveness of Berto, he will have to fight with some caution. Berto’s willingness to clinch will make that hard on him and it could cost Guerrero rounds. In a fight with plenty of debatable rounds, Berto should land just enough to score the majority decision.
Report Card Picks 2012: 59-21
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transanational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]