By Cliff Rold
Returning from a lengthy layoff due to a shoulder injury, 29-year old former Featherweight and Jr. Lightweight titlist Robert Guerrero (30-1-1, 18 KO) f Gilroy, California, stepped up two classes from his last bout at Lightweight to score a wide but competitive unanimous decision against big punching 28-year old Turkish Welterweight Selcuk Aydin (23-1, 17 KO) of Hamburg, Germany on Saturday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. Guerrero added an interim Welterweight title to his trophy case, a distinction he also picked up at Lightweight.
Both men came in under the 147 lb. limit, Guerrero at 145 ¾ and Aydin at 146 ½. The referee was Dan Stell.
After a tempestuous showdown at the weigh-in, both men were staring daggers into each other as they waited for the opening bell. Aydin, as expected, as looking for his right hand while Guerrero was using his speed and straighter shots to score points. Aydin got in with a right early in the final minute and Guerrero took it well. Aydin took a sharp uppercut just as well. Another Aydin right at the thirty-second mark ended in an awkward tie-up. At the bell, Aydin attempted to touch gloves. Guerrero was having none of it.
A low blow in close quarters drew a warning to Guerrero at the start of the second, but it was a streaming combination landing that did more to catch the eye. As had been the case in the first, the more fluid Guerrero controlled the action and outboxed Aydin except for the moments when the singularly minded Aydin got through with a right to the head or body. A wicked shoulder from Aydin at close quarters came just before the bell and they engaged in another nasty staredown before heading to the stools.
Using his body to force Guerrero to the ropes, Aydin landed some thudding rights. Guerrero came right back, and kept boxing, but Aydin was blocking more and more offense with his gloves. Both men were warned for rabbit punching late and Aydin added a nice right in the last ten seconds.
Ample grappling marked the fourth round but did nothing to erase the intensity of the contest. The heaviest shots of the round went to Aydin, but Guerrero landed a higher volume and kept his hands moving more on the inside. It was a tough round to score. The fifth played out to similar form, Aydin’s right catching Guerrero’s attention but too infrequently to demand the momentum.
The sixth did little to change the flow of the fight but Aydin found something in the seventh. Changing the trajectory of his right hand, he started to land from up and under and Guerrero was forced to hold. The pace slowing, Aydin was seizing his chance to turn the fight in his favor. Guerrero eventually answered back but may have lost his first clear round of the fight.
Sensing he needed to check the confidence of Aydin, Guerrero came out like a house of fire to start the eighth. It wasn’t until towards mid-round Aydin began to reassert himself, whipping the head of Guerrero up with an uppercut. Late in the round, Aydin was warned for low blows and ended with a looping right but Guerrero was again the man fighting all of three minutes.
Round nine could have seen a case for either man, Aydin rocking Guerrero late but Guerrero again more active for most of the frame. The tenth was without dispute, Aydin stunning Guerrero with a body shot and carrying the action with powerful blows as the action slowed. One could wonder if Guerrero was fatiguing.
Guerrero bit down with a big time display in the eleventh. Moving his hands, Aydin couldn’t get off as much as he needed and he was outhustled by the more skilled man. It wasn’t without drama. Guerrero was badly rocked in the final thirty seconds but collected himself and came back with a fierce combination before the bell.
Likely needing a knockdown to win, Aydin came out pressing and making no mystery of the right hand he wanted. Guerrero wisely went close and tied up often to keep the stopping blow from landing. Aydin did enough to shade the last round but the fight appeared well out of reach.
The judges saw it as it happened, Guerrero awarded the decision at scores of 117-111 and 116-112 twice. BoxingScene scored for Guerrero 117-111.
Pointing at the interim WBC belt he’d won, Guerrero gave a shot out to his son who always wanted him to win the “green belt” before calling out the full WBC Welterweight Champion Floyd Mayweather. “This is my first fight back in a year. I took care of business.”
That business indeed puts him, at least in theory, in line for a crack at the lineal Welterweight Champion of the World and Mayweather’s position as WBC titlist. Mayweather, set to be released from jail later this week for domestic violence issues, has yet to make clear whether he will fight at Welterweight or Jr. Middleweight in his immediate future. Whether Guerrero would get the call if it were the latter remains to be seen.
Aydin, who waited years to cash in his WBC mandatory, was understandably disappointed but had no problem with the decision. Speaking through a translator, he said it wasn’t a judge’s mistake but his own that cost him the fight and that he suffered double vision from the fourth round forward. Whatever he was seeing, the game effort will make him welcome back on U.S. air.
The Welterweight action bar for the night was set in the televised opener.
24-year old Shawn Porter (20-0, 14 KO), 146 ¼, of Akron, Ohio, won a unanimous decision over 31-year old television friendly veteran Alfonso Gomez (23-6-2, 12 KO), 146 ½, of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, in a pitched ten-round battle. The referee was Edward Collantes.
Gomez, who came to fame in the first season of “The Contender,” landed the first hard blow of the fight, a right hand as Porter came in with his jab. Porter answered the right hand with his own before a minute passed. Porter stepped out of an early exchange with blood around the right eye and seemed bothered until a right hand from Gomez woke him up with about thirty seconds to go. Porter responded with a flurry of hard shots, Gomez showing veteran moxie with a big left to shift the tide again before the bell.
Replays showed Porter’s cut caused by a clash of heads; the bleeding was checked as the second began. Gomez again kicked off the round with a right hand. He stayed landing for large tracts of the round, Porter rocked off balance in the late going with a thudding left hook.
It was rinse and repeat to start the third, Gomez coming out and popping Porter with the right and as the first minute developed he mixed in some more left hooks. Porter had his own right hand violence waiting for Gomez but also used his legs more to try and get the pace onto his terms. Gomez landed two rights from range in the final ten seconds.
Finally in the fourth, it was Porter with first contact, a hookish lead left re-engaging battle. Using his feet to create angles, and pressing with his superior speed, Porter was on the attack. Gomez, grinding, was back into it by round’s end, Porter’s lack of head movement costing him as Gomez timed counters.
Youth and speed were served for Porter late in the fifth despite taking an unhealthy measure of flush Gomez power shots throughout the round. Porter’s more voluminous offense was keeping him ahead and threatened to overwhelm Gomez along the ropes in the last minute. Gomez, always a deep-bottomed warrior, dug in and found some stiff shots to keep Porter honest.
Porter’s momentum in the fifth was stemmed sharply by Gomez in the sixth. Continuing to chip away at the younger man, Gomez used accurate punching and steady application of pressure to keep himself solidly in the fray.
Clashing heads an issue throughout the fight, Gomez went to a knee while landing a right after another in the first half of round seven. Bothered, Porter was able to take advantage and score with Gomez along the ropes. His face showing swelling, Gomez lost his mouthpiece late in the round and went to the corner after a final Porter assault with blood coming from the nose.
Each man showed tremendous heart in an all action eighth round. Porter got off to a better start, going to the body and punching in combination. Gomez was right there to fight back, blasting away with rugged counters, forcing Porter to earn every piece of real estate he sought to claim.
The cut over Porter’s right eye was nothing compared to the wound suffered over the left in round nine. Gashed across the length of most of his eyebrow, Porter was given a long look late in the round by the ring doctor who opted to let Porter go on. It was quite the fan friendly decision considering far lesser cut have ended fights in the past.
At the bell for the tenth, the doctor took a second look on the referee’s recommendation and the doctor let it go on. Some rough stuff drew a warning from the referee as action heated up and both men responded with punching in favor of too much grappling. Gomez lost the mouthpiece in a brief clinch, forced to go to a second and then trying his best to land a turning blow before time ran out. Even as Gomez suffered a slip in the closing seconds, the crowd was ready to give both men a round of applause after ten exciting rounds.
Porter would receive just rewards for his part in the excitement, favored at scores of 96-94, 97-93, and 98-92.
Porter faulted his own aggression for suffering cuts in the fight, but spoke to his own professional focus getting him through in televised post-fight interviews. Asked about the opponent on the night, Porter was complimentary.
“A lot of heart. We knew that coming in. We sized him up every day; every day, he got more and more pumped. We came in here. We knew what to expect. We got everything we expected tonight. We got some great film. Team Porter gonna’ go back to the drawing board and come back a lot sharper for the next one.” How soon the next one will be will depend on the healing process for his left eye but, whenever it is, fans will want to see more of this exciting young battler.
The card was broadcast in the U.S. on Showtime as part of its “Championship Boxing” series, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Cliff Rold is a Managing Editor at BoxingScene, and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]