This might end up being the fight of the year in boxing.
It had everything: intensity, bravery, skill, violence, intrigue, suspense, and oh so much damage visible on the faces of the competitors. What Andre Berto and Robert Guerrero provided in their bout this past Saturday night was a throwback to the days of old when wild, crazy, and really entertaining bouts like this were commonplace.
Guerrero was able to earn a unanimous decision victory and retain his interim WBC welterweight title thanks to outworking Berto for the majority of the fight, continuing to pressure Berto after swelling caused Berto to have vision issues throughout, and through an interesting strategy that he implemented early in the fight and stuck with. What Guerrero did was clinch Berto and move him toward the ropes. Guerrero constantly moved the fight to the ropes to keep things at a methodical pace and make Berto an even closer target. This was also able to negate Berto's hand speed as Berto fought with his right eye nearly swollen shut and was cornered by an opponent looking to smother him with punches either to the body or of the pitter-patter variety.
Berto's right eye became a problem in the opening seconds of round two when a straight left from Guerrero grazed off Berto's face at such an angle that swelling was immediate. By round's end, the eye appeared completely swollen shut. Berto's other eye would suffer a similar fate as the fight wore along. And Berto's whole face ended up swollen by night's end due to the accumulated damage that Guerrero dished out.
Berto's best punch in the fight was easily his right uppercut. It was the only sure thing for a man boxing with one eye blind almost the entire fight and the other fight slowly swelling shut. It also kept him in the fight because it's one of the best punches for a fighter to land when a fight is as close as Guerrero made this one. Berto was able to deal with Guerrero's clinching by having a reliable punch ready and waiting. Also, Guerrero never did anything to avoid this punch as he continued to use a strategy of clinching and moving the fight to the ropes. Berto used the right uppercut to start periods of offense that not only got Berto back into the fight, but started winning him rounds and made the fight legitimately close for a few rounds.
Berto was not only fighting from behind due to his sight issue, but also because he suffered knockdowns in each of the first two rounds, digging himself into a hole on the scorecards.
The first knockdown came in the opening round as Guerrero got Berto on the run. Guerrero appeared to have his right hand on Berto's face as he landed three straight punches that sent Berto to the canvas. Knockdown #2 came early in the following round. As Berto appeared to be complaining about the swelling of his right eye, Guerrero landed a series of punches that sent Berto to his knees and it was ruled a knockdown.
The plot thickened in round eight when Guerrero's right eye appeared to be swollen shut. The eye had begun to swell in round four, and slowly became a problem. This development turned the fight into one that Berto could win as both fighters were now fighting with one good eye. In the end, Guerrero was able to survive every rally Berto attempted to create in the final four rounds.
Two rounds stand out in this fight. The twelfth and final round for starters as it was non-stop action from both men, continuing a trend of punch output that helped make this fight great. Round seven of this fight is a good candidate for round of the year in boxing and was easily the most exciting and action-packed round of this bout. Guerrero dominated the round early against the ropes, but then Berto began to fight back with effectiveness. From there, the final thirty seconds of the round turned into a wild feeding frenzy of punches with both men standing shoulder-to-shoulder against the ropes throwing everything they had at the other. Guerrero got the better of this final period of brawling, but slightly. He did this by putting an exclamation mark on the round with a good 1-2 right before the bell that sent Berto back to his corner wobbly.
In the other bout on the HBO broadcast, Keith Thurman remained undefeated after beating Carlos Quintana into retirement. The 36-year-old Quintana seemed out of his league from the beginning and appeared to only have a chance if he could land that one big punch or stay in the fight long enough where Thurman would tire himself out. The fight didn't end up going that long.
Quintana went down from a liver shot with around 27 seconds to go in the opening round, and from that moment on it was Thurman's fight to lose. For the next three rounds, Thurman relied on constantly pressuring Quintana and moving the fight around the ring exactly how he wanted to keep the fight moving smoothly in his favor.
Quintana was finished late in round four when a seemingly never-ending barrage of punches from Thurman was too much and referee Jack Weiss had to stop the action. Quintana was chased into a corner by Thurman's initial blows and began to really beat on Quintana in the corner. Quintana was able to get away, but only became a more open target and was knocked into the ropes almost immediately. From there it was a matter of Thurman landing one more big right hand, after being able to wind up, before he gained the TKO victory.
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