Guerrero beats Berto in classic war!
Ringside by David Robinett and Rocco Morales
Photos by “Big” Joe Miranda
Robert Guerrero continued his evolution from featherweight boxer-puncher to welterweight tough guy with a gritty, sometimes dirty, twelve-round unanimous decision victory over former welterweight titlist Andre Berto in the main event Saturday night on HBO World Championship Boxing at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
All three judges scored the bout 116-110 for Guerrero, who retained both his WBC interim welterweight title and his right to legitimately call out pound-for-pound stalwarts Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It was only three years ago that most boxing pundits tagged Guerrero with the dreaded "soft" label after a no contest result against Daud Yordan. In that fight, Guerrero suffered a cut and the referee stopped the fight after Guerrero complained of vision problems. Few would have predicted that night that Guerrero would eventually make his mark by going toe-to-toe with hard-punching welterweights.
In this fight, Guerrero, (31-1-1, 18 KOs), set the tone early with a first-round knockdown of Berto, (28-2, 22 KOs), that would have made Bernard Hopkins blush. Guerrero drove Berto back to the ropes, firmly holding Berto's head down with his right hand while unloading three successive punches to Berto's face with his left hand, dropping Berto to the canvas. Referee Lou Moret did not see the infraction and therefore ruled it a legitimate knockdown.
Guerrero continued to rough up Berto in rounds two and three, dropping Berto with a short left hook in round two, and later pounding on Berto along the ropes, hitting the body, arms, and shoulders while rarely giving Berto more then a few inches of space. Whether inadvertently or by design, Guerrero's head was a potent weapon, grinding away along Berto's face as Guerrero continued to work in close. By the end of the third round, both of Berto eyes were swelling, likely as much from the constant friction from Guerrero's head as from the several clean punches landed by Guerrero.
As he did against Victor Ortiz, Berto showed tremendous heart, regaining momentum in the middle rounds in large part to his right uppercut, which Guerrero never figured out how to stop during the fight. Nearly every round featured a Berto right uppercut that snapped Guerrero's head back, and Berto's other right hands had little trouble finding the mark as well. Things continued to remain chippy through round five, when the referee warned Berto twice for hitting Guerrero behind the head.
The fighters traded momentum throughout the middle rounds, with Guerrero winning rounds five and seven on all three judges scorecards and Berto winning rounds six, eight, and nine on each scorecard. Berto's best round of the fight was round nine, when he violently snapped Guerrero's head back at least three separate times with the right uppercut, drawing a louder gasp from the crowd with each one.
However, in addition to shedding the "soft" label, Guerrero might have earned the label of toughest chin in boxing too, walking through each cringe-inducing uppercut to continue pounding away at Berto on the inside. With Berto seemingly gaining momentum after the ninth round, including shutting Guerrero's right eye through a combination of punches and constant grinding of heads during the infighting, Guerrero reasserted himself in round ten, landing several solid shots to the body punctuated by three successive right hooks to the ribs that caused Berto to wince and look to the referee for a low blow call that neither came nor was warranted.
Round twelve was a classic, with almost non-stop infighting throughout the round, before Guerrero punctuated his performance with a straight left hand that hurt Berto just before the bell followed by a frenzied barrage that lasted several seconds after the bell before the referee and a ringside official jumped in to pull Guerrero off of a fading Berto.
After the fight, Guerrero explained his strategy of taking the fight to the bigger, natural welterweight.
"I did tell Andre I was going to beat him down so I had to be a man of my word," joked Guerrero. "I knew I had to turn it on with him because he's got those fast hands and hard punches so I had to get on the inside with him and work his body. If you keep him on the outside he has those quick hands and he catches you."
For his part, Berto grudgingly credited Guerrero for the win but had harsh criticism for the referee.
"That was just ridiculous," lamented Berto. "The referee kept calling me for a lot of different things and he made me timid to do a lot of things, like going to the inside. It is what it is. I came back after 14 months and fought a tough guy, Robert Guerrero, and he got the win. - D.R.
Thurman Blows Through Quintana
Hot prospect Keith Thurman, (19-0, 18 KOs), continued his ascent to contender status with an easy fourth-round TKO of former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana, (29-4, 23 KOs) in the televised ten-round co-main event for Quintana's NABO junior middleweight title.
Thurman started quickly, knocking down Quintana with a textbook left hook to the body moments before the bell in round one. Quintana just barely beat the count, gritting through obvious pain, but Thurman was unable to capitalize with little time remaining in the round.
Quintana maintained a healthy distance from Thurman in round two and Thurman wasn't particular aggressive, perhaps waiting for another single perfect shot, leading to a rather uneventful second stanza.
In round three the pace was still measured but Quintana started to stand his ground a little more, even coming forward on occasion, allowing Thurman to land several solid left and right hands to the body.
The action heated up again one minute into round four when Thurman landed a straight right hand to the gut that sent Quintana stumbling back into a corner. Thurman continued to rush in behind his jab, eventually catching Quintana with a series of lead right hands that had Quintana reeling into a corner where Thurman unloaded a sustained barrage as referee Jack Reiss prepared to step in. Quintana attempted to fight back but when a right hook by Thurman landed flush on Quintana's jaw the referee waved the fight over. Time of the stoppage was 2:19.
In his post-fight comments, Thurman was his usual brash self.
"I'm calling out the world of boxing," proclaimed Thurman. "Anybody in the world of boxing can get a piece of Keith 'One Time" Thurman. Call Al Haymon, you know the number."- D.R.
Charlo decisions Johnson
Jermell Charlo (19-0, 9KO) won a unanimous decision victory over Dashon Johnson (13-9-3, 4KO) in what was a mostly lackluster super middleweight bout. For the first 6.5 rounds, there was not much action and the fans in attendance grew increasingly impatient until things picked up after a foul by Johnson who threw Charlo hard to the floor brought out the fight in both of them. Referee, David Denkin, deducted a point from Johnson who seemed to be buying himself time after being stunned by some connecting punches from Charlo. For the remainder of the bout both fighters were more willing to exchange but Charlo was slightly better than Johnson but did not quite outclass him as much as would be expected by their records. Judges scored the bout 98-91, 99-90 and 100-89 in favor of Charlo. - R.M.
Caballero TKOs Casillas
Randy Caballero (17-0, 9KO) continued his rapid rise up the ranks with an impressive victory over Rigoberto Casillas (8-9-1, 6KO). Caballero threw everything but the kitchen sink at Rigoberto Casillas and seemed a bit stunned at the end of the third round when Casillas still had not gone down from countless punishing blows. Only the California State Athletic Commission could stop the lion hearted Casillas who refused to go down despite being hit with highlight reel punch after highlight reel punch. At the advice of the ringside doctor, the bout was stopped prior to the start of the fourth round making Caballero the TKO victor in what was a scheduled eight round junior featherweight bout. With the victory, the 22 year old Caballero shows he has graduated from prospect status to legitimate contender status. - R.M.
Olympian Breazeale Overpowers Bissett
2012 Olympian super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale, (2-0, 2 KOs), returned to the ring just two weeks after his pro debut, earning a tougher than expected stoppage over former mixed martial artist Mike Bissett, (1-1, 1 KO) in round two of a scheduled four-round bout. Despite scoring four knockdowns in less than five minutes of action, Breazeale was rocked multiple times by his free-swinging but glass-jawed opponent.
Bissett landed the first big punch of the fight, a looping right hook that fell squarely on the side of Breazeale's head. The fans in attendance, justifiably expecting a quick blowout by the Olympian, noticeably gasped and focused their full attention to the ring. Bissett followed up with a series of right hands to Breazeale's head and body that seemed to stun Breazeale and had everyone in the arena believing in an upset. Unfortunately for fans of the underdog, Breazeale decided to punch back, at which point order was restored and Bissett took his obligatory beating.
A two-handed flurry by Breazeale following a Bissett right hand dropped Bissett about midway through round one. Bissett got off the canvas only to be dropped moments later with a left-right combination to the head by Breazeale. Bissett made it out of round one but early in round two a counter right hand by Breazeale froze Bissett, who wobbled in place for a moment before dropping to his knees. Bissett rose and was able to remain upright a few moments longer before a glancing right hook off the top of his head sent Bissett to the canvas for the fourth and final time, prompting referee David Denkin to wave the fight over at 1:17 of round two.- D.R.
Robles stops unwon Martinez
In the opening bout of the evening, featherweights Manny Robles Jr. and Misael Martinez kept their perfect records intact as Robles scored a first round stoppage to remain undefeated while denying Martinez his first win. Robles, (3-0, 2 KOs), hurt Martinez with his first power punch of the fight, a counter left hook that was quickly followed with a lead left hook moments later. Martinez, (0-7), tried to engage Robles in an attempt to make a competitive fight, but a one-sided Robles assault later in the round forced the referee to intervene and stop the fight at 2:13 of the first round of a scheduled four-round bout.- D.R.
Attendance for the card, which was presented by Golden Boy Promotions, was announced at 4,865.