We should have a clearer indication as to whether interim WBC welterweight king Robert Guerrero is a great fighter or simply very good, when he locks horns with ex WBC and IBF belt holder Andre Berto at the Citizen’s Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California this Saturday.
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Known as ‘The Ghost’, the 29 year old from nearby Gilroy collected IBF straps down at 126 and 130lbs. His standing as an ‘interim’ champion with the WBA and WBO at 135lbs plus his present status permits him to make the tenuous claim of being a four division ‘world’ champion.
The 5ft 9in southpaw is certainly a quality human being. After his wife Casey, a childhood sweetheart, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2007, Guerrero placed his world championship aspirations on the backburner to tend to her. After a January 2010 transplant, she now appears cancer free.
During an 11 year, 34 fight pro career, the Californian has been bettered just once – a 12 round split decision loss to Mexico’s Gamaliel Diaz seven years ago – and that was emphatically avenged by knockout just six months later.
Last time out, after a 15 month hiatus due to a rotary cuff problem, ‘The Ghost’ debuted at 147lbs by comprehensively schooling the previously unbeaten and bull strong Turkish hothead Selcuk Aydin over 12 rounds in San Jose. (A fight broadcast live on BoxNation).
A slick defensive wizard with a tight guard and nimble feet, Guerrero is unquestionably a top grade fighter but we’ll find out more about whether he’s a top grade welterweight on Saturday.
Challenger Berto, from Winter Haven in Florida, is a career welter who has also lost just once. In April 2011, he conceded a unanimous decision and his WBC belt to ‘Vicious’ Victor Ortiz following a proper 12 round war which featured multiple knockdowns. It was the sixth defence of a title he captured by bludgeoning Miguel Angel Rodriguez to stoppage defeat in June 2008.
A bronze medallist at the 2003 World amateur championships and 2004 Athens Olympian (in the singlet of Haiti), the 29 year old is quick and explosive with 22 stoppage victories on his 28-1 slate. Nevertheless, there is sizeable resistance to his right to contend this weekend after he tested positive for an anabolic steroid in May.
One man who shall certainly be tuning in is current British 147lb czar Frankie Gavin. It’s conceivable the former world amateur champion could feature against the victor sometime over the next 12-18 months. Here, the unbeaten Brummie provides his expert analysis and prediction of the ‘must see’ spat.
“It’s going to be really close and I certainly wouldn’t want to be putting any of my money on it. I’ve seen Guerrero’s last two fights and he’s quality. He absolutely took Michael Katsidis apart, was far too good, a different level, and he was way too slick for Selcuk Aydin last time. To step up through so many weights as he has shows he’s one of the best around. You can only get away with that if you’re really top drawer.
His biggest strength is his boxing skills. I love the way he picks his shots and forces his openings rather than just waits for them to happen. He can make you miss, then counter accurately, by darting in and out. He’s got fantastic uppercuts and I like the way he phases his attacks; throws a combo, then re-sets and goes again.
Power wise, he didn’t look too dangerous last time out against Aydin but Selcuk’s a really big puncher. I boxed Selcuk twice in the amateurs. Second time, he got disqualified for repeatedly kicking, butting, elbowing.... basically everything you ain’t supposed to do! Perhaps that’s why Guerrero was wary and didn’t take too many risks. Still, he had the strength to keep Aydin away so he’ll probably have the strength to fend off Berto, provided he keeps it cute. Don’t count on it.
For me, Guerrero’s downfall is that he voluntarily chooses to go to war, in fights where he’s the better technician and winning easily. He can get drawn in when he doesn’t need to and, other times, he chooses to row. It’s great to watch, I’m not complaining, but it might not win him this fight.
My advice to him would be to try to keep control from the centre of the ring, dictate the pace and keep off the ropes at all costs. Being shorter, Berto will come looking to ‘put it on him’ – he’s stronger and better on the inside – so Guerrero needs to constantly move and counter; give him angles. Berto’s a career long welterweight yet he’s never been stopped so, if Guerrero’s to pull this off, it’ll definitely be a points job.
I’ve not seen too much of Berto but what I have has been impressive. He’s a short, stocky type who reminds me a lot of an orthodox Timothy Bradley. He always turns up in terrific shape and, though he’s not the tallest, he seems really quick, raiding in and out. I think he’ll be the heavier puncher; not a real blowout merchant but hard enough to gain anyone’s respect.
He’s definitely the more natural welterweight and the more proven welterweight. He’s been fighting there at world title level for over four years now and only Victor Ortiz has beaten him in that great fight when they were both down twice. He’s rebounded since and picked up another world title (forcing IBF boss Jan Zaveck to retire on his stool after five rounds with an eye injury last November). He always seems to find away to win. You gotta respect that.
His downside is that he’s a bit short for the weight and, while he can be really explosive, at times he fades off and admires his work. Even now, he’d not get near Floyd Mayweather.
To win, he needs to set a hot pace that’ll disrupt Guerrero’s rhythm. He’s marginally younger, certainly fresher and naturally bigger.
It’s a really tricky one that’s basically there to be won by whoever delivers on the night. But, as you’re forcing me, I’ll go with Berto on a late stoppage. I think Guerrero is gonna stand and have a fight with him and that’ll be his downfall.”
Powerful Germany reserve hot reception for Ukraine
Lausanne, Switzerland, 20 November 2012 - Following an encouraging display in Week I when they pushed the reigning champions all the way, a fearsome quintet of boxers will now be relishing the prospect of getting the German Eagles' first win on the board against Ukraine Otamans this Friday 23 November (20:00 local time). A sensational line-up will be gracing the canvas for the home team in Group B with Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Artur Bril, undefeated power puncher Kevin Künzel and AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 bronze medallist all set to be involved.
31-year-old Frenchman Redouane Asloum, who joined the German Franchise earlier this month after making the switch from the pro ranks (9-1-1), will be making his World Series of Boxing (WSB) debut against the Otamans' Aleksandr Riscan of Moldova in the night's opening Bantamweight (50-54kg) contest. Asloum comes with a big reputation and will want to hit the ground running for his new team.
"I have been very well received by the team and the coach Valentin Silaghi is excellent", declared Asloum. "I have fought in eleven pro fights but WSB is on another level, I am delighted to be able to show what I can do in this competition. Looking at the German Eagles boxers, I am confident that we can reach the WSB Team Final".
Artur Bril of Germany found it tough replicating his success at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games into wins in the tough world of WSB. But with a full season now under his belt, the 20-year-old is primed to have a major impact on his team's results in this campaign. He will be charged with taking down the threat posed by the Otamans' Pavlo Ishchenko in the Lightweight (57-61kg) showdown. The orthodox Ukrainian won the AIBA European Olympic Qualifying Event in Turkey last May and they know each other well, so it will be a close fight.
The Middleweight (68-73kg) bout will see the German Eagles' 22-year-old Xhek Paskali going head-to-head with Ukrainian southpaw Ivan Golub. These two fighters are newcomers to the competition but both are known for being attack-minded fighters so we can expect sparks to fly in this one.
Eagles big puncher, Kevin Künzel, who delighted fans with four victories in as many matches last season, will test himself versus 23-year-old orthodox Ukrainian Sergiy Lapin at Light Heavyweight (80-85kg). Künzel will have a big height and reach advantage over his opponent and, keen to give his team the victory, will look to use his explosive style to cause serious damage from the first bell.
The night will be brought to a close when German Heavyweight (91+kg) star Erik Pfeifer faces the Otamans' Anatolii Antoniuk in the battle of the big boys. Pfeiffer is a pedigree fighter with some vicious hooks in his arsenal whilst his Ukrainian opponent is a solid counter-puncher, so this one promises to be a real battle of wits. Making his WSB bow, Pfeifer has been training extra hard to ensure he can lead by example and send the local fans home happy knowing the team has maximum points in the bag.
Earlier this week, the 25-year-old German told us, "As soon as I knew who I was boxing, I went to check him out on YouTube and from what I saw, I am confident he will be unable to cope with my unrelenting style". "We have a great team and the set-up is ultra-professional, it feels great to be a part of it, I know we can go far in this fantastic competition".
The state of the art facilities at the Kuppelsaal Congress Centrum in Hannover will host this event and with all tickets sold out, the atmosphere is sure to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.