Anyone still doubting if Robert Guerrero is a legit welterweight is eating crow today following the bruising beating he took and delivered last night to Andre Berto. Guerrero won wide on the scorecards (116-110 on all three and two early knockdowns), but had to work very hard every round against a Berto who refused to capitulate despite both his eyes being grotesquely swollen shut.
Berto’s Head-Scratching Strategy: Who told Berto it was a great idea to debut the shoulder roll against a tall southpaw of all fighters? Even Floyd Mayweather and Adrien Broner, the premier users of the style in today’s game, adjust to a high guard when facing southpaws. Berto did no such thing and got hurt badly by a straight left then got clubbed to the canvas by Guerrero holding and hitting in the first. Berto was in bad shape after the round and in the second another hard left caused the swelling to start on his right eye and resulted in a second knockdown. Although Berto battled back as best he could, this early deficit and damage effectively sealed his fate.
Guerrero Executed a Better, Dirtier Version of the Ortiz Game Plan: If you didn’t see the fight live, just imagine what Ortiz did, but add much more mauling, body punching and much less opportunities for Berto to punch back at mid-range. Referee Lou Moret let a lot of rough play go and that was to the detriment of Berto, who was complaining and just wasn’t strong enough to get Guerrero off him. Berto started landed some very hard, snapping uppercuts inside but Guerrero was just overwhelming him with volume in most of the rounds. Berto’s rally in the middle rounds was stifled by some sharp left hands from Guerrero in the championship rounds to close very strong.
I told Andre I was gonna beat him down so I had to be a man of my word.
Heart for Days: Berto has been in wars before with Ortiz and Collazo, so his heart was never in question. Guerrero showed a lot in his last win over Selchuk Aydin, but last night he fought through his highest level of adversity yet in dealing with his own badly swollen right eye and the huge uppercuts Berto was landing inside. It was the heart that made this compelling as each refused to have their wills broken through the ugly fouls and mauling.
What’s Next for Both Guys: Berto was understandably sour about the outcome. He’s been out of the ring for over a year and thought he had a very winnable fight. Instead he was bullied and busted up by a guy who last year was a lightweight. Berto isn’t going to become a totally different fighter, but I think he could use some better coaching. He’s kind of in limbo at this point in that you want him to get him to get some confidence back before facing a name guy. But should Berto be ready to jump right back into the fire next year, bouts against guys like Marcos Maidana, the Victor Ortiz rematch or even Josesito Lopez should still be there for him.
On the other end, Robert Guerrero puts himself right in play to face the winner of Devon Alexander vs. Kell Brook. Fellow Golden Boy stable mate Paulie Malignaggi holds a strap so that can be a unification matchup, but I have a feeling Paulie wouldn’t be too keen (and rightly so) with that matchup. It’s too bad we have all the BS between Golden Boy and Top Rank because I’d love to see Guerrero and Timothy Bradley go at it. There was some talk about that when Bradley couldn’ t get the Pacquiao rematch, so hopefully they’ll both reconsider in the new year.
As far as a rematch between Guerrero and Berto, I don’t think it’s necessary. As Guerrero himself told me earlier this week, Berto “is who he is” and I don’t see him being able to do much different to nullify Guerrero’s mauling strategy.
POST FIGHT INTERVIEW
Keith Thurman KO4 Carlos Quintana: Keith Thurman had a nice showing last night with his knockout of Carlos Quintana. I didn’t think Quintana could take the power and that’s exactly what happened. A left hook body shot dropped Quintana in the first and he barely beat the count. Thurman kept up the pressure and had Quintana out on his feet with a left hook in the fourth and quickly finished matters with a few more left hands. Thurman sports a glossy record of 19-0, with 18 KOs and claims he’s ready to step up. It’s too bad James Kirkland’s career is currently in contract turmoil, because I’d love to see him and Thurman go at it. But Thurman taking on Alfredo Angulo would be an even better alternative. Let’s hope that goes down sometime in 2013.