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Azad Championship Report: Robert Guerrero: “It’s about skills”

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There are few fighters in search of respect more than four-time titleholder Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, 30-1-1 (18). You would think in this day and age (where the more belts collected, the more divisions you jump), respect as one of the top fighters in the world would be his. Still, it remains elusive. While he has held four titles, he has yet to wrest one from a big-name champion. Instead, Guerrero has fought for interim belts once the “regular” titlists abandon their titles for heavier pastures. All that could change on Saturday night at the Citizens Bank Arena when Guerrero faces off against former two-time welterweight titleholder Andre Berto, 28-1 (22), (live on HBO).
 
In his last fight, against Selcuk Aydin for the interim WBC welterweight title, Guerrero was again doubted. After all, this is a fighter who started his career at 126 pounds and now fights at 147. No way could he withstand the shots of the power-punching Aydin. However, Guerrero did just that in boxing and fighting his way to a unanimous decision, placing himself as Floyd Mayweather’s mandatory defense in the process.

Now all that stands between him and the Mayweather Sweepstakes is Berto.
 
“There is nothing left to say. It’s time to fight. I’m ready to fight and take care of business on November 24,” Guerrero said at the final press conference for the fight.
 
Before heading to welterweight, Guerrero’s last fight was April of 2009 against Michael Katsidis at lightweight. The performance was dominant save for a few scary moments. A bout with Marcos Maidana was set at 140, which would have allowed Guerrero to acclimate slowly to the 140s. Instead, a rotator cuff injury sidelined Guerrero. A year-and-a-half later, he emerged as a welterweight and took on Aydin. With this second time at 147, Guerrero and his co-manager/conditioning coach and nutritionist Bob Santos, the feeling is that he will be even stronger at the weight.
 
“What was even more tough, with the year-and-a-half off, you are just going from [135] to [147],” Santos told Maxboxing.com. “There was no time to [acclimate]. He will be much stronger this fight and he looks actually faster than this the last fight. He is getting used to the weight. Obviously, the longer he fights at the weight, the more he comfortable he will be at the weight.”
 
At the press conference, Guerrero did not appear the smaller man. At 5’8” with a 70” reach, he and Berto are only separated by a half-inch in height. However, Berto is a career welter who likely will outweigh Guerrero by 10 pounds on fight night.
 
“It’s not about size,” said Guerrero, who estimated he would weigh 152 on fight night. “It’s about skills.”
 
Some fighters appear bloated when they move too far from their original weight classes. Guerrero does not. He attributes this to Santos’ diet and exercise regimen.
 
“It has to do with your diet. Bob Santos does a good job with my dieting and having all the right proteins. I’m just a naturally big guy. People think I’m small but they get it wrong,” Guerrero said. “I am right there. I am just getting solid and that is the thing with me. It’s knowing how to do it the right way. That is how I am able to climb through these weight classes and be so effective.”
 
Looking at both fighters, Guerrero appears the more technically sound fighter. A southpaw, Guerrero is more of a boxer who fights more aggressively than anything. When he wants to, he establishes distance well and can box from all ranges. Berto is more of an explosive boxer/puncher. While he is not known as a murderous puncher, he does have quality stops over Carlos Quintana in the eighth round and David Estrada in the 11th. Guerrero’s offense is much more steady throughout, which will play in his favor should this go to the decision.
 
“I always go in fast,” said Guerrero. “I am coming to fight. That’s the bottom line. I know what kind of guy he is. He comes out strong for the first couple rounds. But you know what? We’re going to tear him down.”
 
If there is a chink in Berto’s technical armor, it’s that he struggled with two southpaws in his career, Luis Collazo (in a fight many feel he lost) and Victor Ortiz, who gave him his first and only loss.
 
“Definitely you want to look at film and study. I study a lot of film and seen how he struggles with southpaws,” said Guerrero. “When I put my game plan together, it is going to get him in trouble. He has problems with southpaws period.”
 
As for Berto’s physical armor, it’s his chin. Down against Cosme Rivera, hurt against Collazo, down and hurt by Ortiz multiple times, Berto has a soft spot and Guerrero knows it.
 
“I think he has a soft chin. He has been hurt a lot of times. Now it’s time for me to see,” said Guerrero.
 
It’s time for all of us to discover many things on Saturday from whether Guerrero can withstand Berto’s power shots to how Berto handles a southpaw boxer who is coming to test him in every way he can think of. Most of all, we will learn if Guerrero can wrest respect from Berto - and all of boxing - by winning in the kind of fashion that will finally attract the pay-per-view giant that is Floyd Mayweather Jr.
 
We will see if it is truly all about skills.
 
You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PST.
 
Please visit our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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