It seemed like HBO’s World Championship Boxing main event between Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Andre Berto would serve as an entertaining bout that would provide answers within the welterweight division, and it did. Yet, we were also left with some questions to answers we didn’t think existed. I enjoyed the bout and I felt like it should’ve been a fight that raised both men’s stock regardless of the outcome. That’s the beauty of boxing because only in this sport can a loser gain favorable notoriety. But based on the dialog from fans and media it is obvious that this fight won’t serve both fighters equally, perhaps that is the consequence of circumstantial prizefighting.
The fight started out in a destructive manner for Berto, who went down twice in the first two rounds. In round 1 Berto was on the receiving end of a staggering left hand from Guerrero, although that wasn’t the punch that put Berto down it was certainly the one that was responsible for the knockdown and after Berto was unsuccessful in his attempts to clinch Guerrero put his opponent down with consecutive left hands.
Heading into the 2nd round, Berto’s right eye had already begun to swell and within the first 30 seconds of the round he hit the canvas for the second time on a short left uppercut delivered from Guerrero. The most exciting aspect of the fight to that point was the knockdowns, but the most confounding aspect of the fight was Berto’s choice in approach — taking a page out of Mayweather’s book by keeping his left shoulder high while attempting to utilize his speed to roll punches. This was confusing because Berto had never used that kind of approach before — at least not throughout the course of 12 rounds — and while he possesses the kind of speed necessary to utilize that particular style he does not possess the technique to be successful at the level of a Mayweather or Broner.
As dominant as the first two rounds were for Guerrero, Berto managed to fight his way back into a more competitive realm. The fight shifted into a course that became increasingly dirty as both men lobbied for position and free hands to punch.
As the fight progressed Berto would find success on the inside with vicious uppercuts, but Guerrero continued to stifle the distance and kept the find close on the inside.
That would seem to be the biggest hurdle for Berto, trying to find the distance he needed to be successful. Instead, Guerrero would stifle his opponent’s offense by keeping the fight in the trenches and making it a dogfight of sorts.
Both men raged on and provided fans with exciting exchanges, but by the 8th round Berto’s other eye would start to swell and offered us with a truly gruesome site.
The body work of Guerrero was another aspect to the fight that can’t be overlooked; perhaps it was an attributing factor to Berto’s ineffectiveness in the late stages of the fight. However, I don’t believe that Berto was gassed as much as he was subdued by Guerrero’s attack.
As heroic as these two men fought, it was the 12th round that acted as an appropriate climax to a fight filled with highlights. What Berto and Guerrero accomplished in the 12th round was special, the kind of heightened drama only accomplished in boxing.
When the scores were read it was the inevitable unanimous decision Guerrero earned in a fight that both men showed heart and skills. In the end, it came down to Berto being determined to emerge and Guerrero being just plain determined.
The effort these two fighters produced was not a shock to me and although I picked Berto to win I wasn’t surprised by the outcome. What did surprise me was the backlash the day after in the form of blogs, articles, radio shows, and tweets that downplayed the fight and Berto’s efforts altogether. That is the life a fighter who was handed the easy road. I’m not making excuses for the Berto detractors because they don’t need me to do that for them and I’m not trying to dismiss Berto’s feat on Saturday, I’m merely trying to offer up a theory for something that I don’t understand.
Making an argument at this juncture would be foolish, especially considering how many different opinions are out there. I’m not going to convince anyone that Berto showed a lot of skills considering his layoff. The fact that people are claiming Berto’s prizefighting career is over is ridiculous, but I can’t see a way of reasoning with that kind of rational.
As for Guerrero, I guess it would seem a fight with Mayweather is on the horizon. I feel that Guerrero is an adequate opponent, not that I give him much of a chance. Guerrero deserves the fight like a bullpen catcher deserves a World Series ring — it’s only fair. The truth is, Guerrero stands little to no chance at defeating Floyd and he’d be better suited at taking other more winnable fights to raise his stock. The Berto fight alone won’t raise Guerrero’s stock enough to make him a sellable opponent in the eyes the casual fans.
The kind of skills displayed by Berto is only a microcosm of Money May’s skills; the athleticism and hand speed is somewhat similar, but from a technical standpoint Floyd is like Berto on steroids (err, umm, never mind). If Guerrero wants to beat Floyd and seem like a true player heading into the fight he should take on Adrien Broner first. That was a fight that seemed like it could come off, but maybe they both need each other enough now that it can actually happen (of course at a catchweight).
While everyone bickers over the questions the fight’s outcome produced they will let slip away what was so special about Saturday night. What Berto-Guerrero demonstrated was the very essence of what makes boxing so special because on any given night fans can be treated to the kind of unrehearsed drama not offered in other sports. That night Notre Dame “played” USC and if you were watching that then you missed the perfect combination of both the act of fighting and the art of boxing.
Take it in stride fellow hardcores and know that these moments won’t get lost in time. If Berto and Guerrero don’t realize it, what they participated in on Saturday night was appreciated on the highest level. These two men reminded us that the essence of Gatti-Ward is always a Saturday night away and if you don’t watch then you risk missing it.