Welterweight contender Robert Guerrero, of Gilroy, Calif., will face two-time 147-pound beltholder Andre Berto, of Winter Haven, Fla., in an HBO-televised clash on Nov. 24 at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., a fight for which both boxers will receive “seven-figure pay days,” according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
The bout could be for the WBC welterweight title, currently held by Floyd Mayweather, who hasn’t defended that belt since stopping Victor Ortiz last September. If Mayweather is stripped of the title, Guerrero, who won the sanctioning organization’s interim belt by beating Selcuk Aydin in his last bout would be “upgraded” to full title status.
As part of the deal, both Guerrero (30-1-1, 18 knockouts) and Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) have contractually agreed to mandatory drug testing by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said Schaefer. Discussions about the clash were originally reported by BoxingScene.com.
“Guerrero verus Berto is done. It’s going to happen on Nov. 24 from Ontario, Calif,” said Schaefer. “They have a venue called the [Citizens Business Bank Arena] which is owned and operated by A.E.G., the same people who own The [Los Angeles] Staples Center.”
Guerrero-Berto will headline a triple-header to include a contracted 152-pound bout between hard-punching welterweight puncher Keith Thurman (18-0, 17 KOs) and former WBO welterweight beltlholder Carlos Quintana (29-3, 23 KOs), as well as a WBO lightweight title bout matching contenders Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) and Sharif Bogere (23-0, 15 KOs).
Guerrero, 29, is coming off July’s unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Turkish-born Aydin (23-1, 17 KOs), having risen two weight divisions in order to make his 147-pound debut for a Showtime-televised bout that transpired before an excited crowd at the H.P. Pavillion near Guerrero’s hometown of Gilroy, Calif.
A former IBF and WBC titlewinner, Berto tested positive for the banned substance norandrosterone, forcing the cancelation of a remacth against Ortiz that was scheduled for June.
But in July, Berto, 29, was granted a one-year license by the California State Athletic Commission to fight in the state after having tested negative for “anabolic steroids and masking agents.”
“Both fighters have agreed to USADA drug testing,” said Schaefer. “USADA is the gold standard when it comes to drug testing and that’s what both fighters have agreed to.”
Berto had been hopeful of challenging IBF junior middleweight beltholder Cornelius Bundrage on that date, but has opted to face Guerrero.
“It’s a big fight, clearly one of the biggest fights which can be made at the 147-pound weight class. I’m very happy for the opportunity that it presents to both fighters,” said Schaefer.
“Both fighters are going to make seven figure pay days, and so, that’s what it’s all about. It’s a big fight where the fighters are getting paid.”
Guerrero has won 14 straight fights during a run that has included nine knockouts. He has won six belts (including three interim titles) over three weight classes.
Guerrero last suffered defeat by a split-decision to Gamaliel Diaz in December 2005, but won their rematch with a sixth-round knockout in June 2006.
Before facing Aydin, Guerrero had last been in the ring in April of last year, when he unanimously decisioned Michael Katsidis in a lightweight bout.
In September of last year, Guerrero had arthroscopic surgery which repaired a torn tendon in the rotator cuff of his shoulder.
The injury forced him to cancel a bout that was set for August of last year against then-junior welterweight Marcos Maidana.
Against Aydin, of Hamburg, Germany, Guerrero was fightin in his sixth weight class, having started out as a junior featherweight.
“You know, we truly feel that it is a fight for the fans. Both of these guys are warriors. But come Nov. 24, boxing will have a new superstar, and that’s Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero. Robert Guerrero’s a million dollar fighter now, and the sky is the limit.”
In April of last year, Berto was decisioned and dethroned as WBC titleholder by Ortiz during a fight that featured two knockdowns each by both boxers.
Ortiz lost the WBC belt by fourth-round knockout to Mayweather in September of last year, the same month during which Berto’s fifth-round knockout win dethroned IBF welterweight titleholder Jan Zaveck, stopping the previously once-beaten Slovenian-born fighter for the first time in his career.
But Berto wanted revenge so badly against Ortiz that he gave up the IBF belt to face him in a non-title fight. Berto-Ortiz II was also postponed from a Feb. 11 date as a result of a ruptured left biceps injury Berto suffered and which has since healed.
Meanwhile, Thurman, of Clearwater, Fla., is coming off a a sixth-round stoppage of Orlando Lora on the undercard of a fifth-round knockout by former WBO junior lightweight titleholder Adrien Broner over Vicente Escobedo in July.
Promoted by Lou DiBella, Quintana is coming off a sixth-round stoppage of Deandre Latimore in a clash of southpaws that took place on the undercard of Mayweather’s unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto in May.
Quintana has lost to Cotto, Berto and split bouts with Paul Williams, all of whom knocked him out. But the Puerto Rican veteran ended Latimore’s three-fight winning streak.
“This is a fight against a young, hungry guy,” said DiBella. “But Quintana is an experienced fighter and a more experienced fighter. It’s a great opportunity to compete against an up-and-coming fighter.”
A Cuban-born fighter living in Miami, Abril is coming off a disputed split-decision loss to former lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios in April.
Bogere, a Las Vegas resident from Uganda, is after his fourth straight knockout and is coming off a second-round stoppage of Manuel Leyva in June.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com