By Barbara Pinnella
Photos by Marlene Marquez
The Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, CA was the site of the Golden Boy Promotions event, televised live on HBO, that featured Andre Berto (28-2, 22 KOs) and Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) fighting for the WBC interim welterweight title in a fight scheduled for 12 rounds.
The crowd was pretty sparse until the two big fights, and then the crowd was quite a bit larger, and vocal as well. They were really into the action.
Guererro was on the attack early, and several left hands in secession caused a knockdown in the first round. Berto was down and up again in a flash, but it was still scored as a knockdown.
In the first minute of the second round another left hand to the body by Robert put Andre down for the second time in the fight. Once again it was all Guerrero. Same story in the third. Robert was just tenacious in there.
Guerrero chants could be heard from the fans during round four, encouraging Robert on. He didn’t really need that, as he was still in the drivers’ seat. Berto was having a hard time sticking to any game plan that he might have had coming into the fight. Guerrero was continuing to keep Berto at bay by not letting him stay outside. Robert would find a way to get inside and keep control.
Guerrero was like an eel to fight. Each time it seemed as if Andre was gaining the upper hand, Robert would just slide out and keep punching. The sixth was the best round for Berto, as he was able to land two good shots on Guerrero right at the end of the round.
Robert came back and just attacked Andre with both hands to open up the seventh, but just when it seemed as if Berto was down and out he landed some hard right hands on Guerrero. In the eighth, Guerrero seemed to take back the control, but both men have done damage to the other. While Berto had a very swollen right eye since the second round, the left one was swelling also. And Robert was not immune either, as his right eye was swollen in the later rounds.
When Berto threw a punch it had to land, or Guerrero would jump in and fight in close quarters. Andre was able to connect while being forced to stay in there, but it was in Robert’s favor to stay head to head and bang with Berto. But we did see some strong rounds going down the stretch from Berto.
Going into the final round, both fighters had been showing nothing less than heart, desire, and talent. Guerrero’s right eye was swollen shut, and Berto’s face showed the wear and tear of the war they were in, but they were slugging it out to the end. We went to the scorecards, and all of the judges saw it the same way, 116-110, all for Guerrero. What a great fight and super display of perseverance from both men. There should be no embarrassment in defeat for Berto.
Guerrero later said, “I told Andre I was gonna beat him down. I had to keep my word. I had to fight him on the inside and work the body. He didn’t hurt me at all. He caught me with a few shots, but I have a great chin.
“I knew he’d be tough. Look at the Ortiz fight. Victor put him down, but he came right back and put Victor down, so you’ve got to be cautious with a guy like that.
“Berto did hit hard, but no where as hard as Aydin did. Aydin was a hard puncher. Wherever he hit me, it hurt. I’ve moved up from 122 to 147, I can take a punch, and I want to fight the best. That’s why I want Floyd Mayweather. I want to be the best; I don’t just want to get paid. I know if I fight the best and beat the best, I’ll get paid no matter what.
“I couldn’t be happier with my career,” Guerrero continued. “I’ve had the right fights to be at this level. A lot of people underestimate the power I’ve got. I might not hit you with real flashy shots, but I’ve got power.
“I come and I fight for my family. I want to send my kids to Stanford! It’s either send my kids to a junior college, or a big college. So I’m gonna come and do what I have to do to support my family, put food on the table, send them to the best schools, do stuff like that.
“Ya know what, you guys have got to give it up for my father. He’s taken me to six world championships.
“I’m here, let’s do this, Floyd. I got a unanimous decision against a great champion in Berto. I feel I’m the best and can’t be beat – I’m unstoppable!”
Berto, who was being attended to by the medical staff, did not attend the press conference, but right after the fight he said, “The ref was calling and warning me about a lot of things, so I was timid. He was coming in and holding me and grabbing me every time I got close. But it is what it is. I came back after 14 months and fought Robert Guerrero. At the end of the day he fought a great fight.”
The co-main event saw Keith Thurman (19-0, 18 KOs) facing off against Puerto Rico’s Carlos Quintana (29-4, 23 KOs) in a scheduled 10 rounder in the junior middleweight division. This fight was for the WBO NABO light middleweight title.
A big left hook to the body sent Quintana to the mat near the end of the first round, but he was able to get up and land a punch or two before the bell. Thurman stayed in control for the majority of the second as well. Carlos was able to land a few again, but so far, Keith was in complete control.
Thurman did not land as many in the third, but when he did they hurt. Keith always had so much power behind all of his punches.
In the fourth and what would be the final round, Thurman just teed off on Quintana with lefts and rights at will, causing the fight to be stopped at 2:19 of that fourth round, as Keith showed everyone once again why he is still an undefeated fighter.
Interestingly, all of Quintana’s losses have come by way of knockout. They were against Berto, Paul Williams, Miguel Cotto, and now Thurman.
After the fight Thurman said, “I give myself a B+ or A-. Now I’m calling out the world of boxing – anyone can get it. I’ve been fighting since the age of seven. This is truly a dream come true. I’m happy performing and giving you guys and exciting fight.
“I was a bit surprised by the short fight,” he said, “Mentally I prepared myself for distance, but on the other side I did know that I had all the qualities to do what I did tonight.
“I thought that after the knockdown it might have been it, but he was a true warrior and he didn’t want to end his career that way. I watched tapes on Quintana, and I saw early when he fought Cotto that the man doesn’t like body shots. So I knew that I was going to have to find a way to place body shots. When I did that in round one, just as I saw, he didn’t like it.
“I missed Thanksgiving, I hope my dad didn’t eat up all the pie,” Keith quipped. “I just had my birthday; I’m 24 years old now. I just celebrated my birthday with a knockout!”
In a junior middleweight bout that was scheduled for 10 rounds, Jermell Charlo (19-0, 9 KOs) stood across the ring from Dashon Johnson (13-9-3 4 KOs). The first round did not show a lot of action from either fighter, and the fans booed a bit at the end of the round to show their displeasure.
Round two was a lot of the same. Neither man made a statement in any way, and the biggest response so far in this contest was for the ring girl. There was a bit more action in the third, with Charlo dishing out the contact.
The most spirited round we had seen to date was the fourth. While he did not dominate Johnson, Jermell was at least throwing punches. The fifth was much of the same, and with the fight at the halfway point, someone needed to take complete control. Charlo was trying to break through.
In the seventh and out of frustration, Johnson had a point taken away after he flung Charlo to the mat. He then acted mad that he lost that point. At the end of the tenth and final not much had changed. Jermell was the one who got in the most punches in a fight that the fans disliked from start to finish. We went to the scorecards, and the judges saw it 100-89, 99-90, and 98-91, all for the winner, Charlo.
The young undefeated prospect Randy Caballero (17-0, 9 KOs) faced Rigoberto Casillas (8-8-1, 6 KOs) in a super bantamweight fight that was scheduled for eight rounds. This fight started off at a fast pace and continued that way throughout the second round. Caballero was easily the dominate one so far, with punches from either hand connecting with their target.
In round three the men stood toe to toe exchanging blows. Just when it seemed as if Caballero had the fight won Casillas would come back and try to exchange. But the shots took their toll on Casillas, and on the advice of the ring doctor the fight was stopped before the start of round four.
Randy later told me that it was a tough fight. “I kept thinking he would go down, but he just stayed there. But I felt good. I’m ready to keep going.”
We saw a heavyweight bout scheduled for four rounds, as Olympian Dominic Breazeale (2-0, 2 KO) faced Mike Bissett (1-1, 1 KO). Breazeale’s first outing was less than impressive, since he had to do basically no work.
At the start it appeared that Breazeale couldn’t figure out how to find Bissett and Mike was connecting, thought not doing any damage. but then the right hand found its target for Dominic and Bissett went down. Shortly after that Mike was down again, but survived the round. In round two another right found Bissett’s head once again and he went down. After the second knockdown in the round and fourth of the fight, referee David Denkin called off the fight at 1:17 of the fight.
Later Breazeale said, “I was looking to find my rhythm and I felt comfortable. I thought I had him in the first, but he was a tough guy.”
When asked about fighting in just 15 days, he responded, “I love it. I wish I could do it again tomorrow.”
Featherweights Manuel Robles, Jr. (3-0, 2 KO) was matched up with Misael Martinez (0-7). This fight was for a scheduled four rounds. Yes, you can ask yourself why, and I’m sure the Martinez corner was asking the same thing, as the fight was stopped at 2:13 of the first round. The left hand of Robles did most of the damage leading up to the knockout.
This was a good event at a good venue. Hopefully there will be more boxing held here; it is fan-friendly with no bad seats. And because I love to eat, I just have to say that Golden Boy put out a feast for us in the Media Room, so thanks for that.
Congratulations to Guerrero and Thurman, for their big wins and a tip of the hat to Berto for his bravery.