ROBERT GUERRERO: "ONLY GOD KNOWS AND BERTO KNOWS IF HE WAS CHEATING"
Press Release: Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto, a twelve-round welterweight fight will take place on November 24th at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. Also featured on the show will be a junior middleweight fight between Keith "One Time" Thurman and ex-WBO welterwight titlist Carlos Quintana. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.axs.com or www.cbbankarena.com.
The doubleheader will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. Guerrero and Berto discussed the bout on a conference call yesterday. Here is what they had to say:
I want to say thank you to everybody that's on the call today. Like I said, at the end of the day, it's going to be a good show. We've been training our asses off down here in Florida. We're having a tremendous training camp and I'm excited about it. Just like Oscar said, there are going to be some fireworks on Saturday night, November the 24th. So, it's going to be a good one.
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya:
Thank you very much, Andre. Now, to introduce to you [to Guerrero]. He's obviously one of the best fighters inside that squared circle today. We obviously know him for his charity work in this community with the LLS organization, which is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
At 29 years old, he has put together wins over Roberto Arrieta; the Cuban legend, Joel Casamayor. He defeated Olympian, Vicente Escobedo, had a great tremendous win over Michael Katsidis. He's rapidly climbing that ladder in the pound-for-pound list. He had a very, very impressive win in his last fight against then undefeated Selcuk Aydin, which he won the WBC interim welterweight title belt.
Here's a young man who wants to fight the best in order to become the best, willing to take all comers. And this fight here with Andre Berto is a dangerous fight for both of them, but that's really what these guys are all about. It's fighting the best and giving the fans the best show possible. Let me introduce to you with a record of 31-1 with 18 knockouts out of Gilroy, California, Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero.
Thank you, Oscar. I just want to thank everybody that's on the call. Thank God for all of the blessings he's blessed us with, and I'm excited for this. I can't wait to get out there. We've got a week left, so man, I'm just chomping at the bit. All the hard work's done, now it's just all that's left is to go in there and fight.
Q: Andre, Oscar talked about in his introductory remarks about the excellent performance that Robert had a couple months ago when he fought against Selcuk Aydin. That was his first fight at welterweight. I wondered if you saw that and what your take was on that fight seeing him-maybe having known about him when he was featherweight champion and junior lightweight, lightweight; but how he looked fighting at a much heavier weight than he'd ever fought at before.
Berto: Yes. I was there, actually. I was there at the fight. I had to actually go to do some things for the commission, so I was actually there at the fight. I think he put on a good performance. By the end of the day, like I said, me and Aydin we're two completely different fighters. Aydin, basically kept his hand tied and just changes in his style like a punching bag all night. But like I said, Robert did what he had to do. He came in there, and I think he looked good at the weight, and he did what he had to do. He stayed busy and kept turning him all night; and fighting a guy like Aydin, that's what you have to do.
Q: When you were watching him, did you at all think that he would be your next opponent? I know you were just at the fight, but were you at all thinking, you know what, he might be my next guy.
Berto: No, I didn't think so at the time at all, because I was worried about my situation. The things I had to clear up, but like I said, it is what it is. The time is here. And he's here in the welterweight division now and he put on a good show against Aydin, so I respect him for that.
Q: Now, you mentioned some of the things you had to clear up with the commission. That was obviously the steroid test that you failed previous to the rematch with Victor Ortiz that got canceled. I'm wondering now that you've been licensed to fight again in California, what was it like for you during that period of time with the uncertainty of-if you get a license the things that were being discussed about you being a cheater essentially? And now you have your license back and just the amount of desire and anxiousness to just finally get back-
Berto: It was a tough situation. But, me and my team, we really didn't worry too much, because we knew we didn't do anything wrong. It was just the fact of just coming out and proving that. After we did, we hired some real top level scientists and attorneys that really go in take a sample and find out exactly what it was, and we found out exactly what it was. It was a contamination of very, very, very small trace, but we presented all the results to the commission and everything's cleared up and we were able to move forward. But, it was just sad that we had to go through all of the bull that we had to go through. Like I said, right now we're here and we're excited. We're happy and ready to get back in it.
Q: Hello, Robert. You heard him talk about; he said that with Aydin when you were fighting, you had pretty much a punching bag in front of you and that Andre is not the same kind of fighter as Aydin is. When you look at the game that Andre has, how do you view that differently in your approach then going up in weight to fight Aydin; now that you're still at that weight, but now fighting what is a much different sort of opponent?
Guerrero: Yes. Aydin did come and take some punches, but he wasn't a punching bag. He was a punching wall. He's a tough guy, comes in strong, and he was determined to win. And the one thing that's hard to sock is a determined man. But Andre Berto, like you said, is obviously a different fighter. He knows how to make fights. I'm happy with the style that I bring to the ring, because I can bring a bunch of different stuff to the ring. And making that adjustment to 147 pounds, I got the breaking in out of the way.
Q: Robert also, you heard him talk a bit about getting relicensed after the drug test situation. I know when this fight was first brought up, I didn't hear it from you but I heard it from your managers, talking about that you didn't want to fight him because you felt like he was a cheat and why should you give him the opportunity. Obviously, something changed between then and when the fight was signed. I'm wondering, what happened that you decided that this was the fight that you wanted to take? And do you think he's a cheater?
Guerrero: Everybody's guilty until they're proven innocent, and he was proven innocent. Like he said, he hired the right people, he took the proper steps and did the right things to get back licensed and we go from there. But I've been in situations with people who've been on steroids and been in the ring with somebody on steroids, so we take real caution against that. Because every time we step in that ring, were putting our life on the line. And when somebody enhances, they're playing with somebody's life.
Q: So, do you think he's clean or do you think he was cheating?
Guerrero: Who knows? Only God knows and he knows. So, that's the least of my concern. My concern is to be prepared for this fight and to go do my job.
Q: Andre, you mentioned that Robert looked good at the weight fighting welterweight against Aydin. But do you really think he's a legitimate welterweight who can hurt you?
Berto: He's weighing in at 147, so he's a legitimate welterweight.
Q: Do you think he can hurt you?
Berto: Like I said, at the end of the day, man, this is boxing. This is boxing. At any time, any right punch can land at any right time that can hurt a fighter that you wouldn't even expect. So right now, me personally, no, I don't think he can. But then again, like I said, it's a fight game, man. It's a fight game, so anything can happen. We're looking forward to just going and putting on a good performance.
Q: When's the last time you had a fight that you just thought, yes, I really kicked butt in this fight. This is who I want to be and this fight really showed who I am.
Berto: It's been a while. I don't think people really realistically have seen the best Andre Berto at all. I've had a lot of exciting performances or one-punch knockout performances, this and that, but I have so much more to my arsenal, man. I'm my biggest critic, so I kind of analyze myself to the max, so it's hard for me to think I've really had an impressive performance that impressed me. I can say it's been a while, I don't think people have seen all they can see of me.
Q: Is it correct to have a sense that you seem a little bit feistier these days, in the last couple of years? With maybe getting a little more impatient for a fight of this magnitude, or maybe trying to ramp up some media interest and talk on the social medium and all that. Are you feeling more sort of feisty and edgy and ready to get some things done?
Guerrero: Yes. I'm always feeling like that. The thing is a lot of people are kind of befuddled because now I'm speaking up. Before, I always just did my job and sat back and waited for it to come my way. Unfortunately, if you don't open your mouth in this business and you don't talk, nothing gets done. So, I'm starting to speak out now and it's time... It's time to make these big fights and that's why I'm opening my mouth and calling everybody out. I'm not the type of guy that does that, but sometimes you've got to step out of your own comfort zone and go make it happen.
Q: Robert, I'm wondering with the things you've been through with your wife and with cancer; I'm wondering how you feel that gives you perspective? Or how that influences you and how you approach a fight nowadays? Now, that you're back on track and back in the ring fulltime?
Guerrero: It gives you a lot of determination. Get in there and be the best, and do what you love to do. The situation being there with my wife, seeing what she had to go through, it makes you step back and look at the bigger picture. She was out there fighting for her life, and I have the privilege to do what I love to do in the ring and get paid for it and be successful at it. So take advantage of it, use that drive and go out there and make it happen. That's why I love what I do. That's why I work very hard, because you can't take things for granted. You can't look past anything. You've got to enjoy the little things in life and everything that comes your way.
Q: Andre, the last year must have been a roller coaster ride for you mentally. While you haven't been in the ring, have you been able to stay in boxing shape during this time?
Berto: Yes, definitely, man, it was pretty much the only thing I could do at the time. Just like I said, this last year it's been one of the hardest years I really had to go through. And like I said, it has definitely matured me just as a man. Just to get ready for everything in your head. Just like they always say it's always a storm before a blessing, man. And I went through a hell of a storm within this last year, and it does put me in perspective with a lot of different things, and I'm right here in the position just to move forward. Me, I'm blessed. The family's blessed, and we're ready just to move forward and make it happen.
Q: Now you're facing probably the toughest test of your career when you face Guerrero, what advantages do you feel you have in this fight?
Berto: Well, my advantages I think are definitely my speed, and I have a power advantage. Again, like I said, Robert, he's a tough fighter. So like I said, we've been putting everything to work. I've been working with some tremendous people. We're just going to be ready for whatever.
Q: What do you feel your biggest weapon in this fight will be?
Berto: For me? I can't let it all out, my man. Come on, now. Who you working for here?
Q: Now, I've got a few questions for you, Robert. You fought from featherweight up to welterweight. How comfortable do you feel at welterweight and will you stay there permanently?
Guerrero: I feel really good at welterweight. So who knows? I've got to take care of business this fight. But if not, I'm willing to move. Like I said, I'm looking for the best fights out there, and I want to fight the best and be the best. So right now I've got Andre Berto in front of me and that's who is the next best opponent for me, and I've got to take care of business, so all the focus right now is just on Berto and taking care of that.
Q: Now the last few years have been tough dealing with your wife, Casey's, battle with leukemia. How important is it to have the full support of your family during your boxing career?
Guerrero: It's very important. Having that support behind you all the time, knowing what you're working for and who you're working for. So that's important right there, and it's the biggest part of my career is having my family support me through everything.
Q: First of all, Andre, I know you're fighting Robert. He's a southpaw. A lot was made from your fight against Victor Ortiz, which was a great fight. I know they're two different southpaws as far as their styles are concerned. I know Robert being more of a measured boxer, but what lessons did you learn from that fight, Andre? And how do you compare and contrast those two styles?
With the Ortiz fight, a lot of people really just don't know what went on behind the scenes getting ready for that fight. I wasn't where I needed to be at all, at all for that fight. Like I said, it is what it is and it happened. But they are different fighters, of course. Victor Ortiz is more of a pressure fighter, trying to back you up to the ropes and tries to bang you out, and he's more of that type of fighter. Guerrero is more of a boxer.
How do you prevent a guy like Robert from turning you, like the way he did Aydin?
I don't fight like Aydin. Right?
Aydin is flat footed. Aydin puts his block up, and just like Robert said he is a guy, he is a strong wall. He just walks to you and tries to bang you out, and I've seen that in that fight with him and Aydin. But to turn somebody like him is easy to do. . Like I said, different styles make different fights, but I don't fight too much like Aydin, so it's going to be a different situation.
Okay, and very last question, Andre. I know there's going to be USADA testing for this fight, and obviously you've gone through the VADA process before, and I'm just wondering if you can compare and contrast the two different testing protocols now that you've done both?
It's pretty much the same. VADA realistically, they came probably five or six times already to test me-to take urine tests and blood testing. VADA was more every other, couple days, but USADA, they've been very relentless on coming to test. Sometimes they came back to back. USADA testing is very relentless with it. VADA testing you have the same way. They're great testing companies, so I don't really have anything bad to say about it. Both of them do the same thing; take blood and urine, so it's not too much of a difference.
Andre, you haven't fought in what's going to be close to 14 months by the time you step into the ring with Robert on Saturday night. Are you worried at all about any ring rust, especially going into a fight against a guy who's a slick southpaw boxer who can give guys trouble on their best nights and you haven't been in the ring for a while? Are you worried at all about that coming into the fight?
No, not really. Because like I said we've been having tremendous work here and I've been working with some tremendous, tremendous southpaws. I'm in great shape, man. I'm in really good shape, and I believe if there is some rust, it should shake off pretty quickly. But like I said, I'm ready. I'm in great shape. I've been having some great workouts. I've been working my ass off though, and I don't think it's going to be too much ring rust.
Okay, I just have one more that's actually addressed to both guys, but I'll stick with you, Andre, first quickly. It wasn't that long back, Andre, that you were considered by many to be one of the top young fighters in the sport. Your name was mentioned up in the pound-for-pound rankings. Then obviously, you've had a very tough last year in your personal life and your career. How important is it for you on Saturday night to give a big type of a performance that will get people talking about Andre Berto again the way they were not too long ago?
Yes. I think it's going to be really important for me. With my style of fighting, I don't think it will take too much to get people talking again. Right now, it's on us to win. That's it. We come there with a win and everything else will come into work, into play. Because you need to understand the thing with boxing, man, you can be the man one night and everybody act like they don't know you the next night.
You can always just turn into an overnight star here in this boxing game. So this is something that I'm not really worried about, too focused on. The only thing I'm focused on Saturday night is to win, and I believe everything else will play out.
I just want to direct a similar question to Robert. Robert, you're one of those guys who have been around for a little while now. Kind of quietly accumulating a lot of wins, some world titles, but you haven't really had that big career defining fight yet. Both you and Andre are two of those guys who are often considered to be the most avoided fighters in the sport. So I guess the flip back question to you in a similar way, how important is it for you, Robert, to establish yourself on Saturday night and make a big name for yourself with the mainstream boxing community?
It's very important. You're just as good as your last fight. You've always got to come out and impress and that's the one thing with boxing is you're always have to look better every time you come out and do your job. The number one thing is going out there and getting the W. You know, that's what we're working on. We're working on going out there to get that W. Whether it's short or not, you still got to keep going out there and do your best and put out your best work.
Q: Andre, you mentioned the Ortiz fight. You said that people didn't really know what was going on behind the scenes. Maybe you could fill people in. What was going on behind the scenes? Why weren't you 100% for that fight?
Just a lot of things; it was really hard just to-not really going to speak too much on it, but it's just the fact that trying new things during training that kind of backfired on us. I'll just say that. It just affected my body terribly and to the case that I had to of course had to go to the hospital after the fight. And I had some severe problems that I had to get managed and had to get fixed up and had to make sure to get medical attention on, basically. So like I said, we weren't 100%. But we still put on a tremendous fight for the fans, and it was something that definitely everybody's going to remember for a while.
Q: The rematch was scheduled to go off earlier this year. It didn't. Much has happened since; Ortiz fought Josesito Lopez. Is a rematch with Ortiz something that's still on your agenda? Or are you beyond that at this point?
The only thing that's on my agenda right now is Robert Guerrero. That's it. Everything else can plan out how it's going to plan out. But like I said, after everything I went through, I'm just focused on what's ahead of me and just taking one fight at a time. That's pretty much it, so all my focus right now is on Robert Guerrero and that's it. I've been eating and sleeping that. That's the only thing that matters to me right now.
Q: Hello, Robert. After jumping from 135 to 147, lightweight to welterweight; I was wondering, how much confidence did it give you to find out that you could really stand your ground and fight against a strong big welterweight like Selcuk Aydin?
I've always got confidence in myself. If I didn't have confidence in myself, I wouldn't even move to 147. But, it does reassure you. You have a tough guy like Aydin in there, who's a hard puncher with both hands. Wherever he hits you, it's going to hurt. So to stand in there and trade with him and trade combinations with him, you push yourself to the limit. You test yourself, and that's the type of guy I am. I'm going to test myself all the whole time I get in that ring. One of things that everybody knows is that I can take a shot in that ring at 147 pounds.
Q: Speaking about 147 pounds welterweight; can you talk about what your ultimate goals are in the welterweight division? And how much higher in weight do you think you can go?
My goal is just to push it as far as I can push it, fight the best fighters that are out there. Challenge the best fighters, if I can get them in the ring. Right now, the focus is Andre Berto, taking care of that. Because if you don't take care of business with Berto, it just puts a stop to your training. So we've got to take care of that first, and after that there are a lot of big fights there. Even if I have to move to 54, I'm confident in moving to 54.
Q: Just a little follow-up question for Robert, something that Andre Berto had said. He said there may be a little bit of rust and shake it off quickly, and I'm pretty sure that you're not going to talk too much about strategy. But is it unreasonable to think you might try to get after it a little bit more very, very early on just to see where he stands in terms of the rust?
I said it early on when the fight got made, we're going to pedal to the metal; full gas from start to finish. That's the way I'm coming in to fight. We're going to go all the way hard.
Moderator Kelly Swanson: Okay, guys. I think that was our last question. We thank everybody for participating. Robert, do you have any last comments before we get off the line here for the media?
Berto, I'm just looking forward to that execution you're talking about.
A. Berto: I'll see you then. You been doing a lot of barking yourself, for some reason. But like I say, fight night, you're going to know what it is. It's going to be something exciting, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited. I'm really excited, so it's going to be good. Race you to the top.
All there is to do now is just fight.