By Cliff Rold
A year that has seen more than its fair share of young fighters lose precious undefeated marks added another casualty on Friday night as 24-year old Dominican Fernando Guerrero (21-1, 16 KO) of Salisbury, Maryland, was upset by cagey 40-year old veteran and Season Two “Contender” winner Grady Brewer (28-12, 16 KO) of Lawton, Oklahoma, a fourth round stoppage at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas in a bell to bell action fight.
Both men came in below the division limit of 154 lbs., Brewer at 153 ¾ and Guerrero at a dramatic career low of 152 ¾. That was almost five pounds less than his last fight and well below the Middleweight division Guerrero had been competing in. The decision to come in below Jr. Middleweight is likely to be debated in the Guerrero camp with immediacy.
The southpaw Guerrero began the fight stepping into the right jab and attempting quick straight lefts behind it. The veteran Brewer was focused but calm, circling mostly to his left away from the power of Guerrero and doubling up on his own orthodox left jab. Near the minute mark, Guerrero attempted a pair of counter lefts over the top of a missed Brewer right but couldn’t. He’d have more success in the closing seconds, snaking a couple of swift lefts to the face.
Brewer attempted a hard flurry at the start of round two but Guerrero absorbed all of the blows on his arms, the guard held tight. Pressuring, it was Brewer forcing the action for most of three minutes, his left finding the flanks and face of Guerrero as the round wore on. Guerrero responded with short hooks as he tried to force the older man to give pause.
Guerrero tried a different tactic at the bell for the third, coming right after Brewer. Brewer used the aggression against him, rocking Guerrero back with a counter left. By the midway mark of the round, it was Guerrero working off the ropes and finding room for some harsh right hooks to send the action back to the middle of the ring. Hard rights put Brewer towards the strands and he scored the best of it through the last minute.
The battle took a dramatic turn in the fourth. With the round about half over, a right landed around the guard of Guerrero. Brewer sent another one behind it, landing flush as Guerrero dropped his hands with his back to the ropes. Whipping the hand at Guerrero over and over, body and head, Brewer’s right hand assault sent Guerrero through the ropes and on to the ring apron. Guerrero pulled himself back into the ring and beat the count, stepping back into a now two-handed stream of blows from Brewer. At the minute mark, Brewer slipped on the “Ford” ad in the corner, a fortunate breather for Guerrero who wisely stepped across the ring. Brewer followed him and kept winging.
By the time Guerrero attempted a clinch, it was too late. Weakened from the assault, Guerrero couldn’t keep his balance and referee Jon Schorle stopped the contest at 2:16 of the fourth round.
Brewer has battled multiple injuries over the years and rough tenth round stoppage at the hands of talented young Cuban Erislandy Lara last year. He rightly relished the victory on Friday and credited his enduring work ethic. “Just because you’re 40 doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. My kids, everybody back at my gym, they know I work hard…I was getting a little tired down the stretch. All I had to do was keep him coming. I knew I was catching him, I was hurting him.” Hurt him he did and now Brewer can look for a way to cash in on his role as spoiler. The veteran would make a fine foe for many of the Jr. Middleweight titlists and it would be a nice reward for a long career.
Guerrero will attempt to regroup with time on his side. He entered the contest rated at Middleweight by three of the major sanctioning bodies (#5 WBA, #15 IBF, and #2 WBO). Despite never having within three pounds of the division limit before Friday, the WBC somehow had him rated at #6 at Jr. Middleweight. It remains to be seen where he will compete from here.
The fellow veteran Brewer bested for his “Contender” crown in 2006 was not as fortunate on the Brewer-Guerrero undercard.
34-year old former Jr. Lightweight titlist Steve Forbes (35-10, 11 KO), 149, of Las Vegas, Nevada, suffered the first stoppage loss of his career at the hands of 30-year old Karim Mayfield (14-0-1, 9 KO), 146 ½, of San Francisco, California. It was an ugly affair, filled with clinches and rabbit punching from Mayfield.
The fresher man had Forbes clearly hurt in the eighth with clean punching and again in the tenth. Ultimately, the stoppage was a judgment call made at 1:03 of the tenth and final round by referee Gregorio Alvarez, Forbes still on his feet with his seventh loss in ten starts.
Welterweight: Javontae Starks (5-0, 4 KO) SD4 Antonio Gamez (6-3-1, 1 KO)
The card was televised on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Prize Fight.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]