Guerrero: ‘I ain’t no quitter’
Robert Guerrero (left) believes he was in control of his fight against Daud Yordan before it was stopped because of a bad cut above his right eye on Saturday in San Jose, Calif. Photo / Alexis Cuarezma-fightwireimages.com
Robert Guerrero’s manager acknowledged that perception is often more important than reality. And the perception, at least in many minds, is that Guerrero quit in his fight against Daud Yordan last Saturday in San Jose, Calif.
The scheduled 10-round junior lightweight fight was stopped by the referee in the second round after Guerrero said blood from a bad cut above his right eye – the result of a head butt — was impairing his vision. The fight was ruled a no-decision.
Almost immediatley, criticism rained down upon Guerrero, whom writers and fans suggested should’ve demanded to fight on.
Guerrero, stung by the reaction, said he was prepared to go on but simply abided by the ruling of referee Jon Schorle. He said Schorle asked him whether he could see, he responded “no,” and Shorle stopped the fight.
“I said, ‘No, I can’t see out of it,'” Guerrero said Tuesday. “The referee took action off that and ended up stopping the fight. I have to respect the doctor and the referee. We get crazy guys doing crazy things in the ring and it’s bad for boxing. (The doctor and referee are) in there to do a job. I’m not going to argue and fight with somebody trying to do a job in the ring, just like I’m trying to do a job.
“For people to take shots at me, to say I’m a quitter, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Critics of Guerrero point to countless other fighters with similar cuts who fought on or at least protested when it appeared the fight would be stopped.
Pat Lynch, longtime trainer of Arturo Gatti, mentioned Gatti’s fight against Angel Manfredy in 1998. The predictably entertaining brawl was stopped because of a ghastly cut, which Gatti, a warrior’s warrior, had a very difficult time accepting.
“The fight was stopped, I believe, in the eighth round with Arturo really coming on,” Lynch said. “He was so mad that the fight was stopped. He was told that he was actually cut to the bone. His response was, ‘Good, so it can’t go any deeper.” That was his answer.
“Arturo’s philosphy was always, ‘You stop the bleeding. If it opens again, close it again, and we’ll continue until we win this fight.’ I would hope all my fighters would react that way.”
Some went so far as to sugggest that Guerrero was looking for a way out of the fight because Yordan, a quick, slick boxer from Indonesia, was giving him more trouble than he expected.
Teddy Atlas, a trainer and television analyst for ESPN, said it’s possible – although not certain – that the fight was evolving into something Guerrero couldn’t deal with, something for which he wasn’t mentally perpared.
Atlas used the “No Mas” fight between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980 to illustrate his point.
“Duran was not prepared to deal with that fighter on that night,” he said. “In his mind, he had a plausible escape. He’s thinking, ‘This guy isn’t fighting with me. He’s moving, he’s embarrassing me.’ I don’t think he trained well for that fight. So there’s a lot of pressure, a lot going on in the ring beyond Xs and Os. In his mind, he could just say, ‘This guy ain’t fighting; I’m getting out of here.’ He would walk away and come back another day. Then, right at that moment, reality crashed home harder than any punches. It was what people were saying about him.”
“The essence of a fighter is to fight, to overcome, to find a way. It’s up the cornermen to stop a fight.”
Guerrero and his handlers dismiss any speculation that he wanted out.
Bob Santos, his manager, said he kept his mouth shut when Guerrero fought with cuts, broken hands and once a broken shoulder because he didn’t want to sound as if he were making excuses. However, now, with his fighter under attack, he won’t hold back.
“What really bothers me is people saying he’s a quitter,” Santos said. “In our sixth pro fight, he gets gashed over the eye and continues to fight. No one ever asked about that. Against (Marcos) Badillo, he fought four rounds with a broken hand. No one asked about that. Then he goes into the (Martin) Honorio fight after his wife is diagnosed with leukemia. And he fights Edel Ruiz after his wife has brain surgery.
“So now, when I hear people call him a quitter because of a split-second answer to a question, that’s hard to accept.”
Guerrero acknowledged that Yordan is a good boxer but believes he was controlling the fight, meaning he had no reason to quit.
The resident of Gilroy, Calif., not far from San Jose, said that he was the clear aggressor, throwing punches to Yordan’s body and head, while the Indonesian fighter would punch and hold, punch and hold, and never hurt him.
“I wasn’t the one hanging on for dear life,” he said, a reference to Yordan’s holding. “I was coming in, ripping body shots. I didn’t take one step back.”
So where does Guerrero go from here?
Atlas cited one possiblity. Vitali Klitschko was accused by some of quitting against Chris Byrd in 2000 after complaining of a shoulder injury, which later was determined to be a torn rotator cuff. He lost the fight and had trouble living it down.
Fast forward three years. Klitschko was cut badly in a spirited fight against the best heavyweight in the world – Lennox Lewis – but you would’ve had to shoot him to make him quit. He ultimately couldn’t go on but it wasn’t his choice.
This could be Guerrero’s future.
As Santos said, after this, “You could cut his head off and he wouldn’t stop fighting.”
“The whole thing is really disappointing,” said Guerrero, who had hoped to put on a good show for the hometown fans. “I just have to come back from it. I’m going to show the world I ain’t no quitter. I’ve fought with cuts, broken hands, and I made it happen.
“People forget the kind of fighter I am. On one hand, they call me savage. On the other, they’re saying I’m a quitter. Which is it? I come to fight all the time. I’ll show ’em.”
Michael Rosenthal's column appears Wednesdays. He can be reached at [email protected]