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Shoulder-to-shoulder for Twelve Rounds
A Dirty Boxing Brawl with Andre Berto and Robert Guerrero
© 2012 James LaFond
On Christmas Eve into Christmas morning I was staying with some family out of town. Now, these people have premium cable and I don’t even have a TV. So I stayed up all night long like a teenager watching documentaries and boxing. In this way I found a rerun of the Berto-Guerrero fight from November 24th.
HBO is not showing the replay just now. I got it on the last day. If there is a way, and you are a boxing fan, watch it. My Mother even liked it. She is a big sports fan but generally finds boxing too slowly paced. This thing started like a mugging with Guerrero holding Berto behind the head and beating him down. The commentators were horrified that the old ref was just letting these guys ‘fight’ instead of ‘box’. [And they wonder why people are switching to MMA.] As shocked as they were Roy Jones Junior [genius-level knucklehead] loved it, and the brawl even won over the other two purists, who actually started calling it a ‘fight’.
If you are involved in boxing as a fighter, coach, official or spectator there are three reasons why you should watch this fight:
First, the calls of officiating neglect by the boxing geeks at ringside demonstrated in reverse one of the problems killing the modern sport; over-officiating. The ref was an old school overweight old guy that wasn’t about to have a heart attack prying these bucks apart. He let them fight. This says a lot for him in an age when each ref wants to be a celebrity and is attempting to coin a catch phrase for a photo op just before the first bell.
Second, Guerrero put on a clinic on mugging an orthodox fighter for you southpaws out there. He had a hard job too, because Berto is a quick-handed stud now fighting out of the old-time peek-a-boo guard that Floyd Money is having so much success with. Although the HBO experts did not pick up on it—and Roy has certainly grown tired of reminding them—the guy doing the damage in this fight was always the guy with his lead foot on the outside and his opponent in his ‘wheel-house’ as my old coach used to say.
Third, these fighters proved what boxing is about. It is a combat ritual that is all about staying in the most brutal unarmed combat zone; punching range. Both of these guys were delivering and sustaining a level of power shots that typically end high level fights. Despite the commentators’ assertions that one or the other fighter could take no more, they did. They came to fight, and they did so at the most perilous range the entire time. Of particular note was Guerrero’s savage onslaught well beyond the final bell; the biggest explanation mark in a distance fight I have seen.
Berto, 25-1 going in, and Guerrero 30-1-1 going in, did their level best to save the sport that is committing ritual suicide one fight at a time. If you are a fighter, watch it as a clinic for fighting in the pocket, from two variants.
If you are a historian pretend it is 1920 and gain some appreciation for the kind of toughness common in this sport in a past age; and understand why it was The Sport.
If you are a fan, have a good time.
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