ONTARIO, CALIF.-Face to face you would never know that Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero was a 126-pound world champion. Or that Andre Berto dominated welterweights until toppling one time a few years back.
Guerrero (30-1-1, 18 KOs) meets Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) in a battle between two incredibly athletic prizefighters for the interim WBC welterweight title on Saturday, Nov. 24. Golden Boy Promotions stages the fight at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. HBO will televise on delay in the West Coast.
As Berto stepped on the scale the amiable boxer from Florida looked anxious to step into the ring and perhaps erase those demons of doubt stemming from a failed drug test, loss to Victor Ortiz and the months of possible ring rust.
Guerrero looked anxious to prove that he can indeed fight anyone at 147 pounds and has that eagerness that comes with knowing he faced a hard hitter and survived.
Now the two are set to finally meet. The winner will probably get that nod to fight Floyd Mayweather next.
Just four years ago Guerrero was a lanky southpaw boxer-puncher who took out Jason Litzau with a swift left uppercut in the eight round. Yes, he has power. But few realize how athletic the Gilroy prizefighter really is.
Two years ago while visiting him in Big Bear Lake we saw Guerrero at Abel Sanchez’s boxing gym. As we talked Sanchez was talking about the Ghost’s leaping ability. He asked Guerrero to show us.
Standing outside of the boxing ring - that had a foot high platform - without a running start Guerrero leaped over the four ring ropes in a single bound without use of his hands. It was a jump that would make L.A. Clipper Blake Griffin do a double take. We couldn’t believe it. We had a video camera with us but were caught by surprise. Guerrero offered to repeat it but I said no. I didn’t want to be responsible for an accident should he not be successful again.
“My first year in football I was a second string quarterback. I couldn’t throw a pass so I ran it. I had three touchdowns,” said Guerrero, who attended Gilroy High.
Guerrero is a wiry strong, quick fisted and sleek footed boxer whose knockouts have kind of blinded the fans into thinking he’s one dimensional. Far from it.
“I can’t wait to get out there; I’m just chomping at the bit. All that’s left is to just go in there and fight,” Guerrero said.
Berto reminds many of Sugar Shane Mosley who despite a lack of height used his speed and power to blinding effectiveness. A few months back I saw Berto doing some drills in a Van Nuys boxing gym and the Floridian looked fluid and quick.
He’s the only fighter that ever dominated Steve Forbes, who fought a ton of fighters from Oscar De La Hoya to Cornelius Bundrage. But when they met on September 2008, Berto dominated.
Now Berto faces someone who is similar in athleticism but he feels he still has advantages.
“My advantage is definitely my speed and a power advantage,” says Berto. “Robert is a tough fighter. He’s a crafty southpaw. We’re just going to be ready for whatever.”
Berto weighed 146.8 pounds and Guerrero 146.4 pounds at the official weigh in that took place at Dave & Busters in the Ontario Mills Mall on Friday afternoon.
Odds and Ends
New WBC lightweight champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner showed up at the weigh in and when asked who would be his dream fight he answer: “Adrien Broner. I’d kick his ass.”
A number of boxing journalists met at the Club Hi Brow sports bar in Upland, California. The establishment is owned by the wife of one of the premiere sportswriters in Southern California. It’s located on 925 W. Foothill Blvd.
Tattoo emceed the boxing proceedings at the Golden Boy Promotions weigh in. The KDAY radio disc jock has one of the most popular Hip Hop shows in Southern California. He always adds something special to the boxing events.
Tickets are priced at $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25, plus applicable service charges and taxes, are available for purchase by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 736-1420 or by calling AXS at (888) 9AXS- TIX (888-929-7849), at the Citizens Business Bank Arena box office or online at www.ticketmaster.com, www.cbbankarena.com or www.axs.com.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV