It's been well over a year
since we last saw Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero in the ring. On April 9th of 2011, he impressively defeated Michael Katsidis over 12 rounds in a
lightweight contest at the MGM Grand. It was perhaps the most complete
performance of his career and soon, a junior welterweight bout was set up for
late August against Marcos Maidana in his home region of San Jose. But just a
week or so before that highly anticipated bout, Guerrero blew out his left
rotator cuff during training. The ailment not only scratched the Maidana
appointment, it put him on the sideline for the rest of the year. Only now, in
late July, is Guerrero back facing live fire, as he is scheduled to face Selcuk
Aydin back home at the HP Pavilion (Showtime, 10 p.m., ET/PT).
As expected, Guerrero is
chomping at the bit to regain the momentum he had last year.
“I'm excited to get out
there and perform. It's been a year already and I can't wait. I'm excited,
hungry; it's been way too long. I'm overdue. I'm very anxious to get back in
the ring,” he told Maxboxing last week. Guerrero is 29 years old, right in the
thick of what should be his physical prime. He knows this time cannot be
squandered. Asked to recall how he got hurt in the lead-up to the Maidana
fight, he explained, “I was sparring and I stepped off and threw a left hand in
a weird angle and it landed and the rotator cuff tore and my arm just went
He knew immediately that
this was going to require more than just icing it a day or two.
“I had experienced it before
when I was younger,” said Guerrero, “but as soon as I felt the tear, man, it
was just instant pain. I was like, ‘Man, this ain't good at all.’” Guerrero
went through several months of physical rehabilitation, going three times a
week to sessions to rebuild the strength and muscle fibers in his left shoulder
before he could even hit a heavy bag. He says he feels as good as new. “It
feels great; I have no pain there. I can move it around in different angles
that I couldn't move it before and it's feeling tremendous.”
As the calendar turned to
2012 and Floyd Mayweather was looking for a fight, Guerrero grabbed a few
headlines with a series (OK, try a bombardment)
of press releases calling out for a crack at big “Money.” But it didn't seem to
make any real sense; the public simply wouldn't buy a Mayweather fight against
a guy who had never fought above 135 pounds in a main event and was coming off
an injury. Still, Guerrero thought he was a viable option at the time. “Yeah,
definitely; I thought I had a shot at it and that's why we were working hard
[to get it] and that's why you have a P.R. team also. They gotta work hard and
do their jobs. I thought I had the chance,” he said.
Truthfully, they were about
the only ones. It got to be a bit comical as Guerrero was quoted as saying to
Mayweather, “Step up, punk.” But hey, they stayed relevant while on the
sidelines. His publicist, Mario Serrano, says with satisfaction, “The only
thing I can say is that we landed an actual article in USA Today,” adding, “Google ‘Robert Guerrero and Floyd Mayweather’;
you'll see all his articles.”
He was offered a chance to
fight on that May 5th pay-per-view undercard (when Mayweather
eventually faced Miguel Cotto) against Paulie Malignaggi, which he declined.
Guerrero explained, “We wanted to do a main event fight. We wanted to take care
of business on a main event card and we were working for it and this fight
right here, it put us in that position where we want to be in.”
So now Guerrero returns
against Aydin and says ring rust is not a huge concern. To him, boxing is like
riding a bike. Do it long enough and it becomes second nature.
“No, I'm not concerned about ring rust. Having to be scheduled to fight last
August, I had that whole training camp to get ready for Maidana. I had all the
sparring I needed; I had everything. It was about 10 days out from the fight,
so I was in great shape. My timing and everything was on, good sparring;
everything was all put together. Unfortunately, I got the injury. So it was
pretty much like having the fight without the fight because of all the
preparations I went through,” said Guerrero, who has a career mark of 29-1-1
with 18 stoppages.
The most frustrating aspect
of this whole ordeal was that Guerrero was seemingly building some consistency
as a prizefighter, something lacking in the past. And with a win over Maidana
last summer, he wouldn't have been such a long shot to be part of conversations
as a possible Mayweather foe- precisely the idea of facing Aydin for the
interim WBC welterweight title (Mayweather is still technically the WBC
welterweight titlist and beat Cotto at junior middleweight. It's not clear which
division he will return to).
Guerrero explained, “The
whole idea of moving to ‘47 is to get into position to fight Floyd Mayweather,
getting to that huge mega-fight and get the opportunity to fight the best
fighter in the world. That's where I'm positioning myself, so that's why were
taking on Aydin.” Guerrero admits the timing of his injury couldn't have come
at a worse time. “There's a lot of frustration; I've had an up and down career.
It's been rocky. And when you're right there- I don't care who it is- it's very
frustrating to be right there at the doorstep and not be able to walk in.”
He gets the chance to knock
on the door once again this weekend.