By Ivan G. Goldman
Dear Jackie Kallen,
After reading your column previewing this excellent match I’m astonished that your “heart” has to go with Andre Berto over Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero Saturday night. Your head I can understand.
Why would anyone get sappy about a young man who tested dirty for the anabolic steroid Norandrosterone rather than a fighter whose life and career have been terribly afflicted by his wife’s leukemia? After all he’s been through, the fact that Guerrero has only one loss on his record is a huge testament to his heart and tenacity. Both of these fighters are good guys, but one cheated and got caught and now wants our sympathy over the “accident” that led to his taking a Performance Enhancing Drug that’s a flat-out banned steroid. Gimme a break.
Berto already paid a stiff price for his transgression, which was a last-minute cancellation of a rematch with Ortiz, and no, I don’t believe he ought to be hounded over his positive test to the end of his days. He paid. Case closed. Except let’s face it, this is a classic East Coast-West Coast fight — California versus Florida. These coast-versus-coast battles have been a staple of our sport for many decades. And you, an L.A. resident like me, are going to cheer for Florida? You should do penance. I suggest turning in your California driver’s license and walking to the fight. Ontario is only fifty miles east. I’ll even drive past you along the way and toss out a water bottle.
(You Right Coasters out there should know that this particular site is run mostly by people from your side of the continent. But they humor me by letting me write columns like this one.)
I give credit to Berto for taking on The Ghost on Ghostly turf, but I don’t give him permission to beat a California guy, much less this one, whose wife, a young mother, is, as far as I know, now cancer free, thank goodness.
Now about who will actually win. Berto probably. As you point out, he’s the bigger guy. A much bigger guy. Berto, 28-1 (22 KOs), is quick, has a solid punch and never competed below welterweight. Incidentally, how did he suffer that one loss on his record? I’ll remind you in case you forgot — he went up against (ahem) surfing Californian Victor Ortiz, who’d never competed as a welter before their fight in April 2011. The fact that Guerrero is willing to fight this chiseled Olympian after only one outing as a welterweight shows you what a stand-up dude he is.
But the hard-hitting “Ghost” went straight from lightweight to welter like a monopoly player going right past go. No stop at junior welter. And let’s face it, even at lower weights he’s never shown overwhelming power. He’s a fine boxer who can hurt you to the body, but he was a super featherweight only three years ago, as you, Jackie, pointed out in your column. And Guerrero, 30-1-1 (18 KOs), is not a guy you back up easily. Invite him to trade and he trades. Probably a bad idea against bigger Berto.
Guerrero is fighting at 147 because he figures that’s where the money is, which is another reason to make him a sentimental favorite. And Berto is advised, managed, steered, whatever you want to call it, by the mysterious Rasputin-like Al Haymon, who advises, manages, or steers practically every big name in the sport from his bunker somewhere, it’s believed, in North America. And you think HBO, which is doing this telecast, isn’t out to humor all-powerful Haymon? But Haymon needs another victory like Mitt Romney needs his Social Security checks.
Guerrero is looked after by Golden Boy, which is very much allied with Haymon, but it is definitely West Coast-based. In fact, the Golden Boy people have their own building in downtown L.A. right down the street from the Staples Center, which out front has a big statue of Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya (who fought there only once and lost, but that’s another story).
If Guerrero manages to pull out a victory and look good doing it, I can see Floyd Mayweather coming out of hibernation to take him on and put the Guerrero family on easy street.
So my head tells me Berto will wear down Guerrero. My heart tells me Jackie’s heart is in the wrong place on this one.
Ivan G. Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel The Barfighter is set in the world of boxing. Information HERE