By Jason Pribila in Los Angeles: Top Rank Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions have put together a six fight undercard with the hopes of getting the STAPLES Center rocking long before the HBO cameras begin to roll. The fact that this fight is taking place in a fight town, and not a casino, gives their hopes a much better shot at becoming reality. With the majority of the tickets made available to fight fans and not high-rollers, I expect it to be a lively afternoon.
The two fighters that have been singled out by the promoters have been Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (Golden Boy) and Matvey Korobov (Top Rank). Although neither fighter will be televised, they will look to make an impression on the media, HBO suits, and the thousands of fight fans in attendance.
It was hard to find anyone at the press conference with a bigger smile than Robert Guerrero. The former two-time featherweight titlist, and Gilroy, CA native returns to the ring for the first time in 11 months: four pounds heavier, with a new promoter, and the weight of the world off his shoulders.
His last bout was a sensational eighth Round KO of Jason Litzau in February of ’08. Due to promotional problems and a decision to leave Goosen Tutor, Guerrero’s momentum was temporarily stalled; however he told ESPN.com it was actually a blessing in disguise.
“The one thing about being out 10, 11 months, is I got to support my wife, I got to be with her through the treatments, helping her with the kids and being a husband to her. I think it’s a blessing in disguise. The only thing that counts is she’s healthy."
While Robert was impressively knocking out his previous two opponents, it was his wife Casey that was winning a much bigger battle with Leukemia. When Robert defended his IBF featherweight title against Martin Honorio, he did so in 56 seconds so he could return to Casey’s side. Three and a half months later, he was inspired by her presence at ringside for the Litzau bout.
The news only got better for the Guerrero’s, as they found out this week that Casey’s blood-work was Cancer-free.
Saturday Night marks the first fight for Guerrero under the Golden Boy banner. Robert signed with the promoter quickly after an arbitrator ruled that his contract with Goosen Tutor had expired. Golden Boy plans to move quickly in order to make up for the lost-2008. If all goes well against the rugged Edel Ruiz (who recently has as many DQs as Ws), Golden Boy hopes to include the “Ghost” on a loaded March 7th HBO card, featuring Joel Julio vs James Kirkland. The opponent is TBD, as ESPN.com reported that Jesus Chavez turned down the fight.
“I’m honored to be fighting before Mosley-Margarito,” Guerrero confessed, “but I’m here to steal the show.”
After only two professional fights it is unfair to label anyone a “can’t-miss” prospect; however Matvey Korobov may be an exception. The 26 year-old super middleweight is believed by many to be the best pro-prospect coming out of the 2008 Olympic Games, even though he was upset in a second round match. Korobov’s vast amateur experience and age should allow him to be moved quickly by Top Rank, who plan on having him fight once a month in 2009.
“I had about 310 amateur fights, with about 10 losses,” Korobov said, “Most of my losses came when I was a teenager.”
Korobov showed enough in those 300+ fights to impress manager Cameron Dunkin, who signed him following the Olympics.
Dunkin described his style as, “He’s a well-rounded boxer-puncher, a world-class fighter. He’s got a lot of ability. He’s also got the talent to be a world champion. He’s got the whole package.”
The accolades continued from Bob Arum at Thursday’s press conference, “He reminds me of a bigger Kostya Tszyu. He will be one of the biggest stars in boxing. Mark my words.”
If Korobov enjoys similar success of the previous Olympians signed by Top Rank (Mayweather Jr., Cotto, and De La Hoya); we should be able to etch Arum’s words in stone.
January 24, 2009