By Joseph Herron – Last night at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, four division World Champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero successfully defended his WBC Welterweight crown by defeating former world titlist Andre Berto by way of twelve round unanimous decision.
All three judges at ringside were identical, scoring the bout 116-110 in favor of the underdog and incumbent champion.
The primary reason why Berto was a 2 to 1 favorite going into last night’s contest was because of Guerrero’s lack of experience against top level opposition. Although “The Ghost” was indeed a four division world champion going into the contest and the reigning title holder, it was largely believed that he would crumble under the pressure and skill-set of a high level fighter in his respective prime.
Guerrero proved to his detractors that he belongs among boxing’s best by negating the speed and power of Andre Berto and imposing his will on the faster and harder puncher last night.
In the outset of the contest, Andre Berto used the questionable tactic of implementing the shoulder roll defensive stance against a very crafty and intelligent fighter like Robert Guerrero. The fighting pride of Gilroy, California took advantage of Berto’s inexperience and feinted with the straight right hand while pounding the leaning challenger with the left hook.
With seconds remaining in the opening stanza, Guerrero floored Berto with two hard left hooks to the jaw while creating distance with his right glove. Despite beating Dr. Lou Moret’s count, the first round foreshadowed a very long and uncomfortable evening for Andre Berto.
Round two picked up where the opening stanza left off. Berto again tried to implement the Michigan defensive style and paid the price by getting floored within the first thirty seconds of the round. This time, Berto’s eye was damaged by another hard left hook which left him almost temporarily blind in his right eye.
Although the former WBC Welterweight Champion beat the count once again, he was faced with severe adversity for only the second time in his professional career.
Reminiscent to his valiant but losing effort against Victor Ortiz in 2011’s “Fight of the Year”, Andre regained his composure and resorted to his preferred fight style of lining up his right hand with a more orthodox stance.
In rounds three and four, despite being out worked by the four division champ, Berto started to land his right hand down the middle and underneath Guerrero’s mauling offensive attack. Although Andre was being roughed up on the inside, he showed a lot of heart and mental toughness by working through his limited vision and awkward position against the ropes. Berto began to find his target at short range, landing hard uppercuts on the inside.
From round five to the final bell, the entire fight remained in close quarters with Guerrero smothering and stifling Berto’s offensive advantages. While it was widely questioned who the stronger fighter would be on the inside going into the championship contest, the resounding answer was Robert Guerrero throughout the great majority of the bout.
Guerrero continuously did the more impactful work on the inside with hard shots to the body and head of Andre Berto. Although the Miami born fighter landed the more eye catching shots underneath, his uppercuts and hard right hooks did very little to detour the imposing strategy of Robert Guerrero.
In the brilliant and sensational seventh round of action, both champions showed their mettle by standing and taking their opponent’s best shots while retaliating with brutal counters and breathtaking exchanges. The two fighters were well conditioned warriors who were fearless in their assault. Their refusal to retreat was an absolute pleasure to witness.
Down the stretch, both fighters wowed the crowd in attendance with more back and forth action in a phone booth. Both men ripped savage blows to the body and head, capturing the imagination of fight fans at ringside. The customary ring technician from California was relentless in his attack and really showed his critics how resourceful he could be.
Guerrero’s ability to adapt to his opponent’s style and negate his rival’s strengths was truly masterful. While many fight critics and fans of the visiting pugilist will scrutinize Dr. Lou Moret’s judgment in allowing the close quarters rumble to continue, it doesn’t discredit the reigning champion’s plan of attack and overall success on Saturday night.
Both fighters were allowed to work through a very physical battle and the fight fans in attendance and at home were treated to a beautifully brutal war of attrition.
Although Guerrero will enjoy the fruits of his hard labor, Berto should be recognized for his valor in defeat. Neither pugilist should be detracted in the eyes of the public or the sanctioning organizations.
With any luck, perhaps we can do it all over again.