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Guerrero confident, primed after six weeks with Mosley

18
Aug

Shane Mosley sparred three times a week with Robert Guerrero to help “The Ghost” prepare for his title fight against Malcolm Klassen on the undercard of Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi on Saturday in Houston.

“I'm helping him with some things, like adapting to the jab and movement,” Mosley told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Mosley helped Guerrero with a lot more than that. He demonstrated up close how a future Hall of Famer approaches — both mentally and physically — the sport both fighters love. And Guerrero ate it up.

As a result, the younger fighter was emphatic when he said he has never been better prepared for a fight in his life.



The 26-year-old from Gilroy, Calif., is attempting to wrest the IBF junior lightweight title from the South African, who is making his first defense. Guerrero twice held the IBF featherweight belt.

“Just being in camp with him, the way he loves boxing, the way he is in the gym really motivates a fighter,” said Guerrero, who sparred regularly with Mosley over six weeks at his training camp in Big Bear, Calif.

Mosley worked with Guerrero on all the fine points of boxing — ring generalship, movement, keeping range, closing distance properly, footwork, positioning and much more. As a result, Guerrero said, “I think the world will be shocked when I come out and fight.”

However, the most-important lessons were less tangible.

“I saw the passion he has for boxing,” Guerrero said. “He walks into the gym and his face lights up, like a kid in a candy store. I could see how excited he would get when he saw that I was making progress. That kind of thing pushes you, makes you work harder and want to give back to the sport.

“I’ve really seen a different side of boxing being in camp with Shane. He’s been a blessing.”

Guerrero (24-1-1, 17 knockouts) is feeling blessed in general these days. For the first time in a few years, he has been able to focus 100 percent on boxing after a series of difficulties in his life.

During that period, he stood by his wife’s side as she battled cancer (successfully), took a one-year hiatus from the sport because of a contract dispute and was accused of quitting when he was cut against Daud Yordan and could no longer fight.

Now, with all that behind him, he seems to be as confident as ever. He bounced back from the Yordan debacle with eight strong rounds in June against Efren Hinojosa, who retired with a shoulder injury.

Aside from a round and a half against Yordan, those eight rounds represented his first substantial work since early in 2008.

“I was satisfied,” said Guerrero, referring to the Hinojosa fight. “I was fighting a taller, heavier [135 pounds] guy. And I also got in some rounds. It was important to get back into the ring, to shake off the cobwebs. It did me a lot of good.”

Now he faces perhaps the biggest challenge of his career.

Klassen (24-4-2, 15 KOs) has lost four times but three of the setbacks came early in his career. His only loss as a mature fighter was against fellow South African Mzonke Fana, a split decision that cost him the IBF belt he later regained.

The resident of Toekomsrus, near Johannesburg, is a tough, active fighter. He has been known to throw 100 punches a round.

Still, Guerrero believes he will become a titleholder again on Saturday. After all, fighting Klassen can’t be that much tougher than fighting Shane Mosley every day.

“The camp I had, the sparring with Shane, everything went great,” he said. “Shane gives you every look you can think of. I’ve taken all the proper steps to get ready for this fight. I’m ready to go.”

Michael Rosenthal’s column appears Wednesday’s. He can be reached at [email protected]