By Marc Livitz. The welterweight division has in recent years been one
of the hottest and most talent-laden weight classes in the sport of
boxing. In particular, the WBC title has carried with an aura of
fascination, as it has changed hands (or waists) among such fighters as
Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley and
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. On November 24, former two-time welterweight
champion Andre Berto will clash with the interim world champion, Robert
“The Ghost” Guerrero in Oakland, California.
Time away from the ring has at times left the WBC welterweight crown
up for grabs. Andre Berto (28(22)-1) of Winter Haven, Florida (by way of
Haiti) claimed the title (vacated by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. following
his December 2007 win over England’s Ricky Hatton) in June of 2008 with a
seventh round TKO victory over Miguel Rodriguez. His lone defeat came
in spectacular fashion in April 2011 with a unanimous decision loss to
Victor Ortiz, who in turn held onto the title for five short months
before he lost it to Mayweather, Jr., who then moved up to light
middleweight to challenge Miguel Cotto. Andre Berto hasn’t been in the
ring since Semptember 2011. After he defeated Jan Zaveck of Slovenia in
five rounds, he wanted back at Ortiz. The chance never came, as Berto
subsequently tested positive for a form of anabolic steroids in May
Finally, the interim title found a holder in Robert Guerrero
(30(18)-1-1) of Gilroy, California when he outlasted the previously
undefeated Selcuk Aydin over twelve grueling rounds in San Jose in July.
Hopefully, the round robin style of fights is done. We’ll find out
Thanksgiving weekend. Each fighter spoke to the media this afternoon.
Andre Berto was seemingly brimming with confidence when he spoke of
his preparedness for the bout when he said, “I’ve been training very
hard here in Florida. I am so excited. There will be fireworks on
. I am ready to go.”
Robert Guerrero agreed as he added, “I am just so very excited for
this fight. We just have one week left. I am just chomping at the bit
and I can’t wait to just get out there.”
Berto acknowledged that his upcoming opponent did well in his
previous fight but assured everyone that he is a different caliber of
fighter. Robert Guerrero had previously fought only as high as a
lightweight and made a huge two division jump to join the welterweight
“He (Guerrero) did what he had to do. He looked good at the weight
and he kept turning him (Aydin) all night. I wasn’t thinking of fighting
him at the time because I was too involved with my own situation. He
put on a good show. I’m not that type of fighter. He’ll see that unlike
Aydin, I’m no punching bag. He’s flat footed and can’t block up.”
Shortly after his victory over the Turkish fighter, Robert called out
Andre Berto. He spoke of his need to step out of his otherwise timid
public persona in order to get things moving in his favor. He also
disagreed with Berto’s assessment of his previous opponent.
“Aydin took some punches, but he was not a punching bag. That guy was
a punching wall. He was so tough. Hey, listen. Some people are
befuddled because now I am stepping up, but in this business nothing
gets done if you don’t open your mouth. I have won six world titles. I
am not the type to call guys out, but sometimes you have to step out of
your comfort zone. I want to push it as far as it can possibly go.”
The former welterweight champion listening on the other line was
anxious to do whatever possible to clear his name in regard to his
problems stemming from accusations of using performance enhancing drugs.
He also stressed his willingness to cooperate with the Voluntary
Anti-Doping Association (VADA) as the fight draws closer.
“We (his team) really didn’t worry too much about it because we
really didn’t do anything wrong. We hired top level scientists and
attorneys. It turned out to be very small traces of contaminated
material. I am just ready to get back in it. VADA has visited probably
five times for the urine and blood tests. It’s comforting. I have
nothing to hide. “
What did Guerrero have to say about Berto’s temporary fallout? He
solemnly commented, “He was proven innocent and he got his license back.
I have been in the ring with people on steroids. We put our lives on
the line when we step into the ring. My concern is to be prepared. Only
he knows whether or not he is guilty.”
Although Andre has scored knockout victories in two of his previous
four contests, he still feels as though his best outing is yet to be
seen. He furthermore endorsed Robert as a true and formidable
welterweight. He commented, “He’s got a title at 147 (pounds) so he’s a
legitimate welterweight. We’re just ready to box. The right punch at the
right time can hurt any fighter. I personally don’t think he can hurt
me, but I am coming to perform at the highest level.
It’s been a while since I felt really good after a fight. I haven’t
had the greatest performances and I am my biggest critic, so I analyze
myself to the max. An impressive night in the ring is what I need to
“The Ghost” Guerrero never faced any challenge greater than the one
he encountered during his wife Casey’s battle with Leukemia. He took a
fifteen month break from the ring to stay at her side. Thanks to the
generosity of a donor, Casey has made a full recovery. Robert spoke of
how such a life changing event made his life a very different story.
“It gives you more determination to do your best. It made me step
back and look at the bigger picture. I used the drive to go out there
and make it happen. You have to enjoy the little things in life and
never take anything for granted. This is a career defining fight and
that’s why it’s very important. Any fight could be your last. You want
to look better every time. We’re working on giving our best, whether
it’s a short night or not.”
Andre Berto had much time to think of what he wanted to do with his
future in boxing. One certainty was that he had no desire to quit and he
feels no ring rust at all. Said Berto, “It’s been one of the hardest
years of my life, but you always have to plan ahead. It put things in
good perspective and so now I’m ready to move forward. I still have the
speed and power advantage. Robert’s a tough fighter and a crafty
southpaw. We’ll be ready for whatever comes our way.
We’ve put in tremendous work and I’m in really great shape. Any rust I
might have should shake off pretty quickly. I never went away. This is
a sport where you can become an overnight star. I’m ready.”
Guerrero and Berto each took a parting shot at each other before going their separate ways.
Robert said, “We are jumping on the Autobahn ready to put the pedal
to the metal. We’re going all the way and all the way hard. Andre, I’m
oking forward to the execution you’ve been going on about. That won’t
happen.” Andre immediately returned fire when he replied, “You do a lot of barking yourself. Let’s just do it all in the ring.”
The fight on November 24 will be televised on HBO’s Wolrd Championship Boxing.
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