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Drug ban behind him, Berto ready for ring return

LOS ANGELES (AFP) –

Andre Berto has denied taking performance-enhancing drugs

Andre Berto celebrates after defeating Freddy Hernandez by a TKO during their WBC Welterweight title bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in November 2010. Former two-time welterweight world champion Berto, sidelined for more than a year by injury and a drugs ban, is set to return against US southpaw Roberto Guerrero.

Former two-time welterweight world champion Andre Berto, sidelined for more than a year by injury and a drugs ban, is set to return to the ring against US southpaw Roberto Guerrero.

Guerrero will put his World Boxing Council interim welterweight belt on the line in the fight on Saturday in Ontario, California, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

While Guerrero believes a victory over Berto could finally “push me over the hump” in terms of attracting elite opponents, Berto will be trying to get back on track after his anticipated rematch with Victor Ortiz was first delayed by injury and then, in June, scuppered by his positive test for the steroid nandrolone.

Berto lost his WBC welterweight world title on a decision to Ortiz in April of 2011 — after an action-packed bout that saw both men down twice.

US southpaw Roberto Guerrero will put his World Boxing Council interim welterweight belt on the line

Roberto Guerrero at the 12th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in November 2011. Guerrero believes a victory over Andre Berto could finally “push me over the hump” in terms of attracting elite opponents.

In September of that year, Berto returned to stop Jan Zaveck in the fifth round to claim the International Boxing Federation belt.

Berto surrendered that title in order to make a rematch with Ortiz, but he never got the second chance.

Berto, who has claimed he did not take performance enhancing drugs, said the experience has made him a more mature person — and fighter.

“This last year, it’s been one of the hardest years I really had to go through,” Berto said. “It has definitely matured me just as a man, just to get ready for everything in your head.

“It’s always a storm before a blessing, man,” added Berto, who boasts a record of 28-1 with 22 knockouts. “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.”

Guerrero originally shied away from Berto because of the doping affair, but now says he’s looking forward to the bout as a chance to show he’s worthy to take on such division names as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

“Berto has that big name and is considered by everyone one of the best fighters in the world,” said Guerrero, who brings a record of 30-1-1 with 18 knockouts to the bout. “It’s what I need to get me over the hump and it’s really gotten me excited.”

The card was to have featured a lightweight bout between Sharif Bogere and Richard Abril, but Bogere injured his left Achilles tendon earlier this month and had to withdraw.

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