By Marc Livitz:Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero took a huge step in 2012 when he decided to jump not one, but two weight classes up in order to pursue what he felt was his justly deserved recognition in boxing. The Gilroy, California native had fought almost exclusively as either a super featherweight or lightweight up through 2011. His ring resume had up to that point boasted its fair share of notable wins versus well known foes, such as Joel Casamayor, Malcolm Klassen, Vincente Escobedo and Michael Katsidis. Robert knew that further challenges awaited just a few pounds to the north. He took a chance at joining history amongst only three other boxers who successfully made the skip across one division and won a championship in their first respective outing.
Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO’s) exited the sweet science for more than a year to tend to a rotator cuff injury before he resurfaced in order to take two equally rough bouts just four months apart against Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto, respectively. He handed Aydin his first professional loss (UD 12) and topped Berto (UD 12) less than four months later in an all-action contest. Interestingly enough just as Andre Berto’s first defeat in April 2011 gave his opponent at the time, Victor Ortiz a showdown with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Robert Guerrero’s besting of the same individual meant a shot at the sport’s top prize as well. May of 2013 was the last time we saw “The Ghost” in the ring. He was thoroughly shut out by “Money” Mayweather via unanimous decision and took a hiatus of sorts.
This Saturday evening in Carson, California, Robert will get a chance to get a few fingers and toes back upon the pugilistic ladder when he tangles with Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Komegai (24-1-1, 21 KO’s). The bout will be televised live in the United States on “Showtime Championship Boxing” (10 PM ET/ 7 PM PT).
Robert Guerrero, Yoshihiro Komegai as well as Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De La Hoya took part in a brief international media conference call today to discuss their upcoming showdown.
Selected highlights are listed below.
Oscar De La Hoya: “These are two exciting fighters. Everyone is excited and thrilled to have Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero back. We all know that he is motivated and excited to show his skills and he’s very talented. He’s fighting a tough and skilful kid in Yoshihiro Komegai. We’re thrilled to be showcasing a great card this Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.”
Opening Statements, Yoshihiro Komegai: “I’m very pleased to be fighting once again in California, so thanks to everyone involved. My conditioning has improved a lot since I got to the States. I’ve done some sparring and I’m feeling very, very good.”
Opening Statements, Robert Guerrero: “I’m excited to be back and I can’t wait. It’s way overdue, but I’ve had a good rest. I’m ready to get back into the ring.”
Guerrero on his 14 month layoff: “I had three tough fights so close together. Those training camps were brutal and they were nonstop. My body and joints had to recuperate. I got back into the gym on January 1st and I’ve been working hard. You get hungry to get back in to it and you want to get back in that ring. It makes you grow as a fighter. When you are consistently in training camp then you tend to develop bad habits. There were legal actions to worry about as well but my management team took care of much of that.”
Robert on future goals: “I have to put the loss to Floyd behind me and return as a better fighter. I have to focus on the guy in front of me and worry about the rest later. He’s a tough opponent and I’ve watched lots of tape of him. He gets hit with hard shots and it just fires him up. He doesn’t mess around. I know that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has three fights left in him and I’d like to get back into that position again. I’d like to get back out there and make it happen. I wasn’t myself that night and I’d like to give it another go.”
“You learn from experience and I lost to the best fighter in the world. He had incredible foot and hand speed. It really lit a fire under me to become a better fighter and use all of what I have. I couldn’t walk him down like I did with other guys like (Andre) Berto.”
Yoshihiro Komegai’s lone loss as a prizefighter took place at the same arena as this Saturday’s contest. His memories of the bout: “I remember the arena was large and there were some challenges in communication. My team and I didn’t speak the same language. It’s different now because we will be able to communicate without any problem.”
Komegai not Expecting Ring Rust from Guerrero: “He’s a top level fighter and I’m looking at it as a challenge and that’s how I’ve trained. He’s had a long layoff before and he looked fine after it. I expect him to be in the best condition possible. His speed is quick and he throws a lot of jabs. I’ve been practicing at keeping my distance and so we’ll just see what happens.”
Robert Guerrero’s Strategy: “I’m going to stick to my game plan. If it comes to either a boxing match or a slugging match, then I’ll be up for it. He’s going to come and give it his all. He’s prepared just for me as it sounds. Guys like that come to fight even harder because it’s one of their big chances.”