Southpaw WBC welterweight contender Robert Guerrero is dedicating his Nov. 24, HBO-televised clash with two-time 147-pound beltholder Andre Berto to the memory of Hall of Famer and two-time Trainer of The Year, Emanuel “Manny” Steward, who died on Thursday at the age of 68.
“For one, I really feel like Emanuel Steward was the best trainer in boxing, period. If I could have another guy in my corner, it would be Emanuel Steward, it’s as simple as that. That would be my first choice, Emanuel Steward. The kind of trainer he was, he’s done so much with so many fighters,” said Guerrero, who is 30-1-1, with 18 knockouts.
“He’s taken over fighters later in their careers and made them 10 times better than they were. I really feel that Emanuel Steward was the best trainer in boxing, period. Dedicating this fight to him, I think that it’s appropriate, and I’m in one of the biggest fights of my career. He’s one of the best trainers ever, so going out there and fighting hard for him is something that I think is very appropriate.”
Guerrero is coming off July’s Showtime-televised unanimous decision over Turkish-born, previously unbeaten Selcuk Aydin of Hamburg, Germany, his 147-pound debut which was accomplished before a hometown crowd at HP Pavillion in San Jose, Calif., with his cancer-surviving wife, Casey Guerrero, and her donor, Katharina Zech, of Germany, sitting at ringside.
Guerrero chose to pull out of a scheduled March of 2010 clash with Michael Katsidis in order to be with Casey during her recovery from a bone marrow transplant, a move that was recognized when he received The Bill Crawford Award for Courage In The Face of Adversity from the Boxing Writers Association of America last year.
“You know, everything that I had to go with in association with my wife’s illness, and having been involved in all of the fundraising to battle cancer, it really hit home with the situation with Manny,” said Guerrero, who will face Berto at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.
“It’s like cancer is dear to my heart, and that’s one of the platforms I’m always fighting on, whether it’s using my boxing career to bring awareness to it, or doing it out of the ring. It really is dear to my heart.”
By defeating Aydin (23-1, 17 KOs), Guerrero, 29, earned his 14th straight win during a run that has included nine knockouts and became the WBC’s interim titleholder in his welterweight debut as well as the mandatory challenger to WBC titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Guerrero-Berto could be for the WBC welterweight title, currently held by 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 Aydin, would be “upgraded” to full title status.
“They did a poll about how I would do against Floyd Mayweather, and he had it as a pick-em fight. Coming from Emanuel Steward, that is really, truly an honor to hear something like that about yourself,” said Guerrero.
“To hear that form somebody like Emanuel Steward, who I think was the best trainer in boxing, for him to say something like that about my abilities, that’s reassuring and it’s incredible. “
A former two-time featherweight titleholder who also held a major belt at 130 pounds and two interim crowns at lightweight, Guerrero was coming off a unanimous decision victory over Katsidis for the WBO and WBA’s interim lightweight belts in April of last year.
In September, Guerrero had arthroscopic surgery which repaired a torn tendon in the rotator cuff of his shoulder. The injury forced him to cancel an August bout with junior welterweight Marcos Maidana.
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.
Guerrero earned his sixth weight class, having started out as a junior featherweight. In victory over Aydin, Guerrero placed himself in an elite class of multi-belt, multi-division title-winners such as Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather, Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya.
Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) is a former IBF and WBC title-winner who hasn’t fought since scoring a fifth-round stoppage of IBF beltholder Jan Zaveck last September. Prior to that fight, Berto lost his WBC title in a fight-of-the-year candidate with Ortiz.
“I mean, Emanuel Steward said that it would be a pick-em fight between me and Mayweather, so I’m going to prove to the world that he is right about what he sees in me,” said Guerrero.
“So God bless Manny Steward, and he’s in a better place now. I’m dedicating this fight to Emanuel Steward, and I’m going to take care of Berto.”
Photo by Gene Blevins, Hoganphotos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by K2 Management
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]