COMMENTARY | This Saturday at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, Robert Guerrero (30-1-1, 18 KOs) defends his interim WBC welterweight title against former two-time welterweight champ, Andre Berto (28-1, 22 KOs). But, while this 147 lb. battle is certainly worth watching as an honest match-up between two Top Ten-level welters, the outcome won't mean all that much in the grand scheme of the sport or, even, the division.
Guerrero, from Gilroy, California, is an unlikely welterweight star. The former featherweight and super featherweight world champ had two fights at lightweight before breezing by junior welter and stopping at the 147 lb. glamor division. His team wanted Floyd Mayweather for his welterweight debut and pushed mightily for it, but in the end had to settle for long-time no.1 challenger, Turkey's Selcuk Aydin and the dubious interim strap.
There's no denying Guerrero's talent and when it comes to back story, his character-affirming rise to success while dealing with his wife's cancer is second to none. But what will change if the 29-year-old beats Andre Berto on Saturday?
No doubt, Guerrero's status as a world class welterweight will be affirmed. However, the win won't earn him that much more drawing power and, as such, still won't likely bag the golden goose of all nest egg bouts with Mayweather. A solid win over Berto brings 147 lb. street cred, a probable promotion to full WBC champ status, and possible bouts with Paulie Malignaggi, Josesito Lopez, or Marcos Maidana-- all great things, but not necessarily what Guerrero or his team had in mind prior to his division debut. It would definitely be a nice little niche carved out for himself, but, again, not the instant ticket to stardom and high-seven-figure paydays that a Mayweather bout would bring.
Andre Berto, on the other hand, is fighting just to get back to where he used to be.
After dropping the WBC world welterweight title in a crushing loss to Victor Ortiz in April of 2011, Berto would win the IBF strap from Jan Zaveck five months later-- only to vacate the title shortly thereafter in anticipation of a rematch with Ortiz.
However, the highly-anticipated Ortiz-Berto II would fall apart when Berto tested positive for a banned substance during volunteer pre-fight drug screening.
The next several months were filled with uncertainty as Berto looked to re-enter the ring and also rehab his image as a professional. Since the drug testing was voluntary and not part of a commission's protocol, there was little that could legally prevent him from resuming his career, but he had suffered some public relations damage from the incident and, possibly, could find some resistance when looking for high-end competition.
Guerrero has expressed some reservations about the entire PED's (Performance Enhancing Drug) issue, but was willing to go ahead with the bout anyway.
If the 29-year-old Berto scores a victory Saturday night, he'll be one step closer to assuming the position he once held as the best welterweight in the world not named Mayweather or Pacquiao. But don't think for a second that he'll be any closer to a shot at either of the division's cash cows.
While growing friendlier with Golden Boy Promotions (and more distant from promoter, Lou Dibella) will ensure him plenty of solid paydays, it still won't bag him the big ones. Even with a dominant win over Guerrero and the accompanying interim belt, he'll still be a mid-level star without any real, discernible fan base. Still the guy who sold less than a thousand tickets for a bout in his home state of Florida and still the fighter who delivers marginal TV ratings on HBO.
Make no mistake about it, Guerrero-Berto should be a compelling, competitive bout. And that should be good enough for fight fans. But, for the fighters, themselves, it'll be a bout where both are merely looking to stay in the groove-- Guerrero looking to affirm his status as a real welterweight contender and Berto looking to crawl his way back to the near-top.
Mayweather could care less about the result. Pacquiao could care less as well-- unless either fighter jumps ship to Bob Arum's Top Rank Promotions.
For both fighters, plenty of quality bouts may be ahead, but delusions of grandeur will likely need to be shelved for quite some time.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Kevin Iole, Proving grounds: Robert Guerrero eager in face of biggest challenge to date, Yahoo! Sports
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- Robert Guerrero
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