Best I Faced: Robert Guerrero
(Editor’s note: In honor of newly retired two-division titleholder Robert Guerrero, we at Ring TV.com are publishing an updated edition of Best I Faced, which originally looked back on “The Ghost’s” career in 2016.)
Robert Guerrero enjoyed a successful career winning world titles in two weight classes, regularly testing himself against the best available opposition from featherweight to welterweight.
Guerrero was born in Gilroy, California, and grew up in a boxing family. His grandfather, father/trainer Ruben and older brothers all boxed. He first stepped into a gym when he was nine years old.
“The Ghost” enjoyed a good amateur career, the highlight coming when he won bronze at the U.S. National Championships at bantamweight.
He lost in the Olympic Trials and, at just 18, after leaving high school, he made his way into the pro ranks, debuting at featherweight in the spring of 2001, though he did fight as low as 122 pounds on the way up.
Guerrero, moved to 13-0-1, before winning the NABF title, knocking out Cesar Figueroa in four rounds. Two successful defenses followed – also by stoppage – before he surprisingly lost his belt and unbeaten record to future WBC 130-pound titlist Gamaliel Diaz, by split decision.
Six months later, the likable Northern Californian gained a measure of revenge, stopping the rugged Mexican in six rounds.
He parlayed that strong showing, winning the IBF featherweight title in his next outing, forcing Eric Aiken to remain on his stool at the conclusion of the eighth round.
Guerrero provided chief support to Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Carlos Baldomir but lost to hardnosed Orlando Salido. However, the result was expunged and later changed to a no-contest when Salido failed the post-fight drug test.
The title was declared vacant and Guerrero was matched against Spend Abazi.
“I went overseas to Denmark and stopped Spend Abazi in his hometown,” Guerrero told RingTV.com. “Not many fighters would have traveled to a foreign country to challenge for a title fight. You’re taking a big risk and you must get the KO to bring home the victory. I did just that.”
After retaining his title, impressively stopping usually durable Martin Honorio in a round, he found out his wife Casey was diagnosed with leukemia. During this difficult time, she relapsed three times, eventually needing a bone-marrow transplant.
Thankfully, she was able to pull through and get a bigger win than any her husband could ever hope to in a prizefight.
“It was a very trying time,” admitted the deeply religious Guerrero. “Just imagine going to work every day knowing you might lose your wife at any second. I’ve always kept my faith strong with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The fact that she came out of it brought us all closer to God as a family. She’s been cancer-free for the last several years and I’m very grateful to have her in my life.”
After one more successful defense, Guerrero sat out much of 2008, working out promotional issues. During his time off, he vacated his featherweight strap and decided to move up to junior lightweight.
He returned in early-2009 having entered a new promotional pact with Golden Boy Promotions and fought three times, before meeting Malcolm Klassen for the IBF 130-pound crown. Guerrero wrested the title from the South African on points. Though due to his wife’s illness, he didn’t defend the title, instead looking after her until she had the transplant in January of 2010.
Guerrero decided to migrate to lightweight and, in his second fight at the weight, he took on the always tough Joel Casamayor, winning a decision. After beating 2004 Olympian Vicente Escobedo, he scored a wide points win against teak-tough Michael Katsidis.
When Guerrero was unable to tempt Juan Manuel Marquez into a fight, he made the bold move north, 12-pounds, missing an entire division to campaign at welterweight. He set himself a new challenge: Fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.
In his maiden outing, he impressively beat Selcuk Aydin. He’s particularly proud of that performance: “When I jumped up two weight classes and fought the number one contender at the time, Selcuk Aydin, who was undefeated. Everyone thought I was crazy when I jumped up from lightweight to welterweight with no tune-up, especially coming from a long layoff after having shoulder surgery.”
He further legitimized his claims of facing Mayweather, impressively outpointing the naturally bigger Andre Berto, in what he feels is his career-best win.
“When I beat Andre Berto, I put myself in position to fight Floyd Mayweather,” said the southpaw boxer/puncher. “Everyone thought I was too small and wouldn’t be able to handle Berto’s power. I was a major underdog going into that fight and proved everyone wrong.”
Guerrero met Mayweather in May of 2013. Although he acquitted himself well, he was unable to solve “The MayVinci Code.”
Since the Mayweather reverse, the northern California native had gone 2-4. He lost title fights to Keith Thurman and then Danny Garcia. However, since then he dropped a close decision to unheralded Argentinean David Emanuel Peralta and looked a shadow of his former self getting dropped five times and stopped in three rounds to Omar Figueroa Jr. last Saturday. The loss ultimately convinced him to retire yesterday. Guerrero walks away with a record of 33-6-1 (with 18 knockouts and 2 no-contests).
Guerrero, 34, has been married to childhood sweetheart Casey since 2005. The couple have two children. Outside boxing, Guerrero enjoys restoring classic cars, working on his ranch and spending time with his family.
“The ultimate goal is to one day be blessed enough in my career to make it to the Hall of Fame. That would be an honor,” he said.
Guerrero graciously took time to speak to RingTV.com about the best he fought in 10 key categories.
Joel Casamayor: When we used to spar at Joe Goossen’s gym, Joel showed me how to use a stiff jab. When we fought, I had never hit the canvas in any fight, amateur or pro, until the final round of our bout, where Casamayor caught me with a flash knockdown using his jab. He’s a master with his jab.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.: His elusiveness is second to none. It seemed like every time I tried to land a big shot, he was already 10 steps ahead of me. By far the best defensive fighter I’ve faced.
Yoshihiro Kamegai: Man, I hit this guy with everything I got and he still kept coming. If you look at all his fights, he’s always taking shots from big punchers. Kamegai has an incredible chin.
Malcolm Klassen: At the lighter weights, you’ll see guys with fast hands and that was the case when I fought Klassen. We fought at junior lightweight and his hand speed was amazing. As you can see, he’s still going strong, winning another world title (Klassen won the IBO junior lightweight title against Jack Asis in early August). Floyd was more of a potshot puncher.
Mayweather: His lateral movement, I’ve never seen anything like it. You don’t really know how good Floyd’s feet are until you fight him. He’s very fast on his feet, which makes him hard to hit.
Mayweather: If you watch the first few rounds of our fight, you see that I was winning on the inside. Floyd thought I wasn’t going to have much power as I was coming up from 122 pounds, at one point in my career. He was trying to stand his ground and fight me on the inside in the first two rounds but I caught him with a nice body blow and he made the adjustment. He certainly used his brain to win the fight.
Keith Thurman: Physically he’s very strong and you can feel it when the fight gets on the inside. He’s actually a natural 154-pounder fighting at 147, so you can imagine how strong he is. He’s just got that natural strength. Some people are just born strong.
Thurman: Thurman really knows how to put all his power behind his punches. Even when he’s moving laterally, he finds a way to land a big shot from a weird angle. He has power in both hands.
Mayweather: He put everything together and made the proper adjustments in all his fights. He’s not the biggest puncher but his skills are arguably the best ever.
Mayweather: Floyd is the total package. His superior speed, ring IQ, fast feet make him very difficult to beat, hence the reason he retired undefeated. No one was ever able to figure him out.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.
Struggling to locate a copy of THE RING Magazine? Try here or…
You can subscribe to the print and digital editions of THE RING Magazine by clicking the banner or here. You can also order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page. On the cover this month: Anthony Joshua