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Without a Trace: “Ghost” Guerrero Looks to Make All Doubts Disappear

Ghost
Ghost


In November 2007, Robert Guerrero was on the cusp of stardom. He powered his way to 20 wins in his first 21 bouts, with a healthy helping of television exposure on Fox Sports Net, HBO, and Showtime. As the pride of Gilroy, a town outside San Jose renowned as the “Garlic Capital of the World”, Guerrero was resolute on taking control of the featherweight division and entering his name in the conversation with the Pacquiaos and Marquezes of the boxing world, who loomed just four pounds north at the time.

 

How times have changed.

 

Robert’s wife Casey, who has been with him since he was 14, was diagnosed with leukemia. Soon after, he was embroiled in a contract dispute that resulted in a one-year period of inactivity and a new promoter. In a big opportunity to showcase his skills on HBO against Daud Yordan in March of last year, a clash of heads in the second round led to a controversial no-contest when the now 27-year-old Guerrero was accused of dictating the stoppage. Two months ago, after moving up to 130 pounds and taking his second IBF title in as many weight classes, he relinquished the belt upon the news that Casey would be undergoing a bone marrow transplant.


Hopefully, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Casey’s leukemia has been determined to be in remission, and Guerrero, 25-1-1 (17) with two no-contests, returns to the ring next Friday.

 

 

I recently spoke with “The Ghost” as he aims to silence any doubts of ring rust as well as address the criticism about fighting through adversity, when he moves up to the lightweight division to face Roberto Arrieta, 35-15-4 (17), on April 30’s installment of Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo.

 

* * *

 

Ryan Maquiñana: Robert, thanks for sitting down to talk with MaxBoxing.com. This isn’t the first time you’ve had an extended period away from the ring. Two years ago, you had an 11-month layoff due to a contract dispute with your former promoter before you signed with Golden Boy. This time, the reason for your absence from the ring is a lot more significant. How has Casey’s fight against leukemia put your life in perspective? 

 


RG: It puts everything into perspective, as far as life in general and everything you’ve been blessed with. Having to deal with my wife’s sickness really made me take two steps back and go into everything ready all the time. 

 

 

RM: Your usual training regimen involves Ruben, your father, waking you up at 5:00 AM and making you run nine miles a day. With everything on your mind right now, how hard is it to stay focused on the task at hand? 

 

 

RG: You got to do what you got to do. One thing I’ve been blessed with is that my father is one of those guys who doesn’t let up. He’s on you all the time and has that drive in himself to keep you motivated. With the way that everything’s been going, you approach everything differently. You approach everything in a professional way, and you get out there and make it happen.

 

 

RM: How has your daily schedule changed since Casey was initially diagnosed, as far as being a father and husband at home? You’ve been chronicled doing things like changing diapers and sleeping on the floor of your wife’s hospital room in the past.

 

 

RG: I’ve had to step it up and cover a lot more things that my wife covered, like getting the kids ready for school in the morning and making sure everything’s right. You know, it’s like second nature now, where I get up, I do my run, come home, feed myself and the kids, and get my kids ready for the day. Then I’m off to the gym. One good thing is that I have a real close family, and we all pick up the slack. I thank God that I have a great family that’s helped me out and helped me to get through the situation.

 

 

RM: You’ve been nominated “Man of the Year” by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Last Tuesday, you worked with six-year-old Aiden Bowen, a leukemia survivor, on teaching him a few boxing techniques. It must be inspiring to see a kid like that with the will to live, gaining inspiration and strength from you and your wife’s encouragement. 

 

 

RG: It’s awesome to see a kid come out and get lit up by me doing a little workout and spending some time with him, and showing him a few little things here or there. And it’s also awesome for me to see a kid who’s just fought for his life and is doing great. It’s been inspiring to see that, knowing what they have to go through. It’s what my wife had to go through with the bone marrow transplants and her treatments the last few years. It’s rough and I can’t even imagine how rough it is for a young child who’s maybe a year older than my oldest child. To see how active [my daughter] is playing and running, that young boy lost a lot of time being sick in the hospital and going through those treatments. It’s inspiring seeing him smile and be healthy and happy. It’s awesome to see that happen.

 

 

RM: Let’s move on to the boxing segment of this interview. What have been your goals for this training camp and this upcoming fight? 

 

 

RG: For this camp, putting everything together. Working on my toes, moving around. Basically sharpening my tools, getting them ready for fight night. I’ve been working hard and, also making the move up to 135 pounds, you got to use your head a lot more. It’s not just walking through guys and bullying them. You got to use your head a little more, and be smarter now, because the guys are bigger.

 

 

RM: Obviously, you’ve got that powerful chopping compact left hand that you’ve refined over the course of your career. Your style is always evolving, adding new things to your repertoire. You’ve worked with a few trainers like John Bray, Freddie Roach, and now, back to your father, Ruben Guerrero. Can you shed some light and tell me what you’ve learned from each of them?

 

 

RG: I learned a lot being in Los Angeles. With John, I learned a lot of different things, like movement, rolling with punches, slipping, and sidesteps. Everybody has their little niche, and working with John, I learned a lot of stuff. With Freddie, he gets you going and is very smart in the corner while you’re sparring. He gives you little tips here or there you need to improve your style. He’s one of those trainers who doesn’t over-train you. He shows you what you need to get the job done right. I learned a lot from all my trainers, and I’m just putting it altogether.

 

 

RM: Your diet has always been salt-free. Have your preparations, in terms of making weight, been different due to the layoff, especially since you’ll be fighting at 135 pounds for the first time? 

 

 

RG: Yeah, I’ve been eating a lot more protein. Being in such great shape all the time and taking care of myself, I’ve been keeping my body clean and toned all the time, so the weight just starts falling out. I’ve had to adjust my diet a little to keep the weight solid. I couldn’t be happier, feeling strong with the weight and fine-tuned.

 

 

RM: Have you worked on anything specific as far as approaching the bout with Arrieta?  Have you watched film on him?

 

 

RG: I was only able to find one fight on him and, from his style, he comes to fight. He’s a good fighter, and I know he’s going to be ready. I was doing some research on him and, at the end of last year, he was in South Africa and did 12 rounds with Cassius Baloyi. To do that, you have to be in great shape because the altitude can get you over there, so I know he’ll be in great shape ready to fight.

 

 

RM: You have a loyal fanbase in the Bay Area. Are the fans from Gilroy traveling to Las Vegas by bus again? 

 

 

RG: I’m not sure about the bus this time, but there will be a lot of fans heading out that way. The funny thing is, with the local fans, a lot of them save their vacation time for when I fight. It’s nice because Gilroy’s a small community, and it’s great knowing that everyone’s supporting you. I grew up here, and all the locals in Gilroy have watched me since I was a young amateur all the way to now. I have a lot of diehard fans and, even in the Bay Area, I have so many fans that come watch me fight.

 

 

RM: The knock on you is the quality of competition you’ve faced, but if we look at your resume today, it’s arguable that it’s a lot better than people give you credit for. You’ve defended your belt against world champions like Eric Aiken and Malcolm Klassen. You knocked out Martin Honorio in one round, and he’s 4-0 since then. People wondered why you never fought Rocky Juarez, and he just lost to another guy you stopped in Jason Litzau. With all that said, who has given you your toughest fight to date?

 

 

RG: I have to say Malcolm Klassen. Even though, to people from the outside, it looked like the fight was easy, having to keep him from the outside, fighting with a hurt hand, the cut, and having to dictate the fight took a lot of energy and a lot of thinking in there. I have to say he was the toughest fight. It showed that just being prepared and ready to go, you pull off victories that way.

 

 

RM: This isn’t your first time in Vegas. Last time you were here, you initially lost a decision to Orlando Salido, who ended up testing positive in the post-fight drug test (It was ruled a no-contest). In light of Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley agreeing to Olympic drug testing, and the controversy surrounding your former sparring partner, Manny Pacquiao, what’s your take on random testing in the sport?

 

 

RG: I think it’s great. It’s good for the sport. I fought somebody on steroids, and it ain’t nothing nice. You’re blasting on a guy and it’s not even fazing him. He’s just getting stronger and faster. It’s good for the sport. I hope it’s done more often in fights because you just never know. There are some guys who are doing it just to stay on top.

 

 

RM: One fight that fans always bring up with me, when your name comes up, is last year’s no-contest against Daud Yordan. What exactly happened from your point of view? Do you regret not being more adamant to the ref to continue? 

 

 

RG: I couldn’t see. That was the problem. The guy stopped the fight and asked me a question. I told him straight up I couldn’t see. Now I know. I learned my lesson to let it go back to the corner, and I guess you got to argue to fight on, so I took a lot of heat for that fight. But we asked for the rematch several times, and we were turned down, so it just goes to shows that [Yordan] just dodged a bullet. Right when the cut occurred, I was the one who was still coming forward. I was ready to go, but, unfortunately, the fight got stopped on that cut. I took a lot of heat for it, but I bounced back and showed everyone why I am a champion when I came back and won another world title.

 

 

RM: What’s your plan for the rest of the year? You were targeting Humberto Soto once. He’s got the WBC belt at 135. What about reviving the fight with Michael Katsidis at 135? That would entail fighting under the WBO banner. Have you discussed that with your current handlers, who are Shelly Finkel, Bob Santos, and Golden Boy?

 

 

RG: Not yet. The plan is to get back in the ring. What I’d like to do is take it one fight at a time. One thing about Shelly, Bob, and Golden Boy is that they’re always doing their job, and they’re on it all the time. I can’t overlook nobody and make sure I focus on the guy in front of me. If I don’t, I’m not getting to the next fight. One thing I like to do is listen to them after the fight. I know they’re working on a lot of stuff, but I don’t like to listen until after the fight’s done.

 

 

RM: If you had your say, what’s your dream fight right now? 

 

 

RG: I have to say if everything goes good, I want the winner of Juan Diaz vs. Juan Manuel Marquez. I have a feeling Marquez is going to win that fight. I think he’ll be the toughest guy I’ve ever been in with. I‘m just excited to be in a division with a lot of good solid fighters, and I can’t wait to get in.

 

 

RM: Right now, you’re back home in Gilroy before you make the trip to Las Vegas. Tell me about Ghost Guerrero Boxing and Fitness Club, and how you’ve been able to help some kids straighten out their lives.

 

 

RG: We have a couple kids and started to train them. One of the things we want is just getting kids off the streets, having somewhere for them to go. Unfortunately, in a lot of towns and cities, their youth programs are shutting down, and this was one of those things where, if we could help a couple kids, it would be great. My father has taught us a lot, and he’s always stuck by our family. Thank God we had a father like that. And it’s time we give back to those other kids that don’t have that opportunity that we had.

 

* * *

 

 

The Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Area chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is proud to announce the “Man & Woman of the Year 2010” campaign. The candidates who raise the most funds to help advance the mission of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society during a ten-week campaign, beginning at the Kickoff Party on April 7, 2010, and culminating at the Grand Finale Celebration on June 18, 2010, will be named the “2010 Man & Woman of the Year.” For Robert and Casey Guerrero’s candidate page, click the link below:

 

http://svmb.manwoman.llsevent.org/pledge/index.cfm?mid=ROBERT

 

Guerrero vs. Arrieta is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Cerveza Tecate. Doors open at 7:00 PM, the first bell rings at 7:30 PM and the Telefutura broadcast begins at 8:30 PM PT/11:30 PM ET. Tickets, priced at $100, $50, and $35, are on sale now at the Tropicana Box Office, and by calling (702) 739-3507. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.troplv.com.

 

Ryan can be reached at rmaquinana@gmail.com



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