By Kirk Jackson
Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero takes on Andre Berto November 24th in Ontario, Calif for the interim WBC Welterweight Title.
A highly anticipated match featuring two of the best fighters in the division, each trying to gain a stranglehold on the division and lure in the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley for a big fight in the future.
Both guys have impressive resumes, with having Berto faced Jan Zaveck, Carlos Quintana, Juan Urango, Luis Collazo, Steve Forbes and Victor Ortiz.
Guerrero has gone up against the likes of Michael Katsidis, Vincente Escobedo, Joel Casamayor, Jason Litzau and Orlando Salido. This is a tough fight to call, as either fighter is capable of winning.
Aside from Mayweather and Pacquiao, Berto possesses the best hand speed in the division and has dynamic punching power to go with his speed. He has a pretty good left hook, a good jab and is adept at counter punching as well. Another good trait which endears Berto to the fans is his tendency to want to mix it up with his opponents, something he has done since his amateur days.
But even with his great abilities on offense, in recent fights, Berto has shown weaknesses on the defensive end, displaying a tendency to get hit often and for not adapting to a fighter who applies a high volume of pressure (see his bouts against Ortiz and Collazo). Berto sometimes fades down the stretch of fights, and even sought the aid of Victor Conte in an effort to find effective ways to increase his endurance.
Guerrero is a fighter who can be effective using a variety of styles. Being able to adapt to his opponents is a great indication of a fighter’s ring intelligence. More pluses for Guerrero are his effectiveness with the jab, having a knack for the right timing, and his southpaw fighting stance.
Although Guerrero is a well-rounded fighter, he has can have struggles on the defensive end as well. An extremely quick and slick-defensive fighter may present Guerrero with some problems. Daud Cino Yordan may not be known for his defensive prowess, but he is extremely quick and gave Guerrero some problems.
Keys to victory for each fighter:
Although they are the same height, 5’8”, Berto has a half inch reach advantage and may be naturally 10 to 15 pounds bigger than Guerrero, having spent his entire career fighting in higher weight classes, compared to Guerrero fighting the majority of his career fighting around the featherweight and lightweight divisions.
Berto may want to impose his size on Guerrero and he should definitely have an advantage with his hand speed. There is the cliché that speed kills and it definitely can for Berto in this fight.
Speed may kill, but great timing can offset speed. Guerrero is capable of pulling this off and will have to if he wants to emerge victorious. Being a southpaw helps his cause as well, as he can be take the lead and be the first guy to get off in most exchanges.
The jab can be the most important punch in the fight. In Berto’s fight with Jan Zaveck, the latter man was able to continually beat Berto to the punch and was dissected him throughout the course of the night. Berto did not give off many angles in their fight and defensively was squared up and facing Zaveck, leaving himself open for a lot of unnecessary punishment.
Against Ortiz, Berto had a tough time unleashing his offense. Pressure and power played a big part of that, as well as the difficulty of finding angles facing a fighter fighting in the southpaw stance.
Whoever gets off punches first will likely win the bout. Berto needs to impose his size and speed; Guerrero needs to have effective timing with his jab, systematically breakdown Berto and take him into the later rounds, as Berto has not fought in about a year.
Unless Berto worked on some of the defensive issues from his last few fights, he is going to be in big trouble, because he is going up against a fighter that already presents him with problems.
I favor Guerrero going into this fight, but it can go either way.
A victory for Berto will definitely put in back in the welterweight picture and he may be able to land a fight with some of the bigger names in the division. I don’t think he’ll face Mayweather, because they do share the same manager in Al Haymon and I do not think Bob Arum would willingly match up his prized possession Pacquiao, with Berto.
But if successful against Guerrero, Berto may be able to land a fight against Bradley, or maybe even a rematch with Ortiz.
A victory for Guerrero may place him in the running to face an incumbent Mayweather, if the perennial pound for pound champion ever decides to lace his gloves up again, which he likely will. Not sure if Guerrero will be able to entice Arum into matching him up with Pacquiao.
Keith Thurman vs. Carlos Quintana: Athleticism vs. Experience
Keith “One Time” Thurman 18-0 (17 ko‘s) takes on Carlos Quintana 29-3 (23 KO‘s) on the under-card of the Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto card.
Thurman, 23, is a new fighter on the rise. Networks are starting to get behind because of his brash personality, willingness to mix it and deliver knockouts, ring generalship and overall boxing skills.
This is a showcase fight for Thurman, a chance for viewers to see what he is capable against good opposition. This fight is for the WBO and another minor belt, but a victory over Quintana can potentially earn Thurman a shot somewhere down the line against another world title holder in the junior middleweight division.
Quintana is a former champion in the junior middleweight division, the first guy to defeat Paul Williams a couple years back, and has amassed an impressive resume.
While Thurman does possess skills and in most cases will have the advantages of speed and athleticism, there are still some questions that remain unanswered.
Thurman has yet to really face anyone noteworthy. It’s one thing to look good against tomato cans, it’s another to do it against the crème de la crème. While Quintana may not be the best opposition in the division, he is an experienced former world champion and a definitely a step up in competition.
As mentioned earlier, Quintana has challenged for and won the world titles across multiple divisions. Having faced Miguel Cotto, Joel Julio, Andre Berto, and Paul Williams on two occasions, Quintana is well experienced and prepared for anything. The problem is Quintana, 36, is starting to look his age, and it’s uncertain how much he has left in the tank.
Quintana’s advantages in the fight are his experience and his southpaw fighting stance. If he can control the pace of the fight, set up traps for Thurman, or even take the lead as the aggressor yet still manage to dictate the pace of the fight, things will go well for Quintana.
But I think Thurmond’s advantages of athleticism, power and hand speed outweigh his weakness of a lack of experience against upper-tier competition. Thurman may want to be the aggressor and invest in a high volume of body punching on the older Quintana. Going to the body early, testing Quintana’s conditioning, may pay dividends for Thurman.
He does have boxing skills to go along with his athletic ability. He showed with his punch placement in his last fight against Orlando Lora, he has the accuracy and intelligence to do well against at least aggressive fighters moving in and had the defensive mindset to get out the way and not be on the receiving end of exchanges.
A win for Thurman will definitely propel him towards the championship picture: he wants to ascend towards the boxing elite as soon as possible and HBO seems to be getting behind this young fighter as well.
A win for Quintana keeps him relevant within the junior middleweight ladder, but his best days may be behind him. He may just be designated to the role of gatekeeper.
With a fairly thin resume, we have yet to see Thurman tested. A victory should be expected from Thurman, although it’s uncertain how he will handle adversity if there is any in this fight. Hopefully Quintana can provide that challenge and we will see how Thurman responds.