- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Robert Guerrero had hoped to face welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. in December while former two-time titleholder Andre Berto was linked to a possible November fight with junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage.
But in the musical chairs-like boxing business things change quickly and they have. Now it will be Guerrero, who owns an interim welterweight title, and Berto -- in his first fight since a failed steroid test last spring -- who will square off on Nov. 24 in the main event of an HBO-televised tripleheader at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., Luis DeCubas Jr., Guerrero's co-manager with Bob Santos, told ESPN.com.
"We have a deal in place and it's a great fight, a fight for the fans," DeCubas said on Monday.
"They're both warriors and known for putting on great fights. Come Nov. 24, there will be a new superstar in boxing, Robert 'The Ghost' Guerrero. The sky is the limit for this kid. He's a million dollar fighter and he will prove why he's the best 147-pound fighter in the world.
"Robert wanted to fight Bradley (on Dec. 15 on HBO) but Bradley punked out and we moved on to the next best guy, who we think is Andre Berto."
Also scheduled for the tripleheader: interim lightweight titlist Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs), who lost a highly controversial decision to Brandon Rios in April, will face Uganda native Sharif Bogere (23-0, 15 KOs) and prospect Keith Thurman (18-0, 17 KOs) will face former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana (29-3, 23 KOs) of Puerto Rico. According to Quintana promoter Lou DiBella, the bout is contracted at a maximum of 152 pounds.
"I'm excited to be back in there," Berto told ESPN.com. "I went through a lot in the last year but I had a lot of good people continue to support me and give me encouragement, and then it all got cleared up. It's time to move forward and get back in the ring. I didn't care who it was against. I was just looking forward to the challenge."
Guerrero-Berto has been agreed to, but has not been signed yet. However, DeCubas said the money is set and the other big issue -- the drug testing protocol -- has also been worked out. The sides agreed to random blood and urine testing but they could not agree on which agency to handle it.
Berto's representative -- adviser Al Haymon with the backing of Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer -- wanted it to be overseen by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, DeCubas said. Guerrero and his managers wanted to use the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, even though Golden Boy, Guerrero's promoter, wanted USADA.
When Berto was getting ready to fight a June 23 rematch against Victor Ortiz in Los Angeles, their drug testing was administered by VADA. In a random urine test that Berto took in May, he tested positive for the anabolic steroid norandrosterone, causing the fight with Ortiz to be canceled, which cost Golden Boy a lot of money.
Berto (28-1, 22 KOs), 29, of Winter Haven, Fla., claimed the positive test was from inadvertent contamination and, in August, he was tested by the California commission, came up clean and
was issued a license.
"We're using USADA. They will do extensive drug testing and we will also be tested by the California commission, and we expect Andre Berto to have integrity for the sport and fight clean," DeCubas said. "Everybody in life makes mistakes and he is getting a second chance.
"We wanted to use VADA, which had contacted Robert, and we looked into that. But Berto's side wanted to use USADA. Robert is not going to make or break a fight over this. We'll kick his ass whether it's VADA, USADA or the California commission doing the testing. If Berto thinks Victor Ortiz roughed him up (in his lone loss) then wait until he fights Robert Guerrero."
Said Berto, "I'm hyped and I'm motivated. A lot of things happened this year. I learned so much and I'm ready to put everything behind me and work.
"I went through all the testing with the commission. They know it was contamination (that led to the positive test), not enhancement drugs."
Berto said he was fine using USADA or VADA testing but left it up to his handlers to work out the details. He also said he is prepared to deal with fans and media who have branded him a drug cheat.
"My mind and my heart is real numb to that and I'm ready to move on," he said.
Berto's seven-figure purse has not been disclosed but DeCubas said that Guerrero (30-1-1, 18 KOs) would earn $1 million, his first seven-figure payday.
"This is a kid who is clean inside the ring and outside the ring and if there's anyone who deserves it it's Robert Guerrero," said DeCubas, adding that Guerrero would begin his training camp in Las Vegas on Tuesday. "He's earned it. He hasn't been given anything."
Guerrero, 29, of Gilroy, Calif., has previously won titles at featherweight and junior lightweight and two interim belts at lightweight before jumping up two weight classes to welterweight in July. Guerrero was coming off a 15-month layoff after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff when he outfought top-10 contender Selcuk Aydin in a grueling fight to win a vacant interim belt at 147 pounds.
"I was at his fight with Aydin and it was really close to me," Berto said. "Aydin didn't really have too much to bring, just that power and pressure. He was one dimensional. I bring a lot more to the table -- speed, power, I can box and I can bang it out if I have to. I'm an all-around fighter. It's gonna be an exciting fight.
"I don't really think (Guerrero) will bring too much of that power up with him to 147, but at the same time he's a crafty little southpaw. Aydin was so one dimensional but, at the end of the day, Guerrero got the 'W.' That the only thing that matters."
DeCubas said Guerrero-Berto could wind up being for the full WBC belt, which is currently held by Floyd Mayweather Jr. However, Mayweather last fought in May when he won a junior middleweight belt and he has not defended his welterweight title for more than a year. Plus, organizations typically make a fighter pick which weight class in which they will keep a title and do not allow fighters to hold belts in multiple divisions at the same time.
"Floyd hasn't defended the title in over a year and he won't fight Robert, so we expect the WBC to do what's right by Robert Guerrero and make this fight for the full title," DeCubas said.