Robert Guerrero hasn’t really been “The Ghost” in recent fights. In his three bouts as a welterweight he has taken on the image of flat-footed slugger. That makes it hard to see what advantages the Gilroy fighter expects to have against fellow 147-pounders who can match his speed, size and power.
Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 knockouts) says he aims to rectify the situation Saturday in his welterweight bout in Carson, California, airing on Showtime, against Japanese slugger Yoshihiro Kamegai , a bout in which Guerrero ought to use finesse and boxing skills to advantage.
Although his one loss came at the Carson venue last June to little-known Johan Perez, Kamegai has 21 knockouts in his 24 victories and presents defensive problems for Guerrero.
Guerrero, who was a lanky, defense-minded technician in his featherweight days, had little choice but to take on the bull’s role in his loss last May to the ultimate matador, Floyd Mayweather. Nobody is going to out-finesse Mayweather.
But the brutality ofGuerrero’s victorious welterweight debut against Selcuk Aydin in 2012 often played into the Turk’s hands, and brutality proved to be Guerrero’s primary asset in his upset of former champion Andre Berto later that year.
Now that the welterweight world has acknowledged Guerrero’s machismo, it’s time to show anew how slick he can be.
He says that’s exactly his intention. “There's a lot more that I can bring to the table when I fight,” Guerrero said, referring mostly to the Mayweather defeat in May 2013. He hasn’t fought since. “I felt it wasn't the best of me in there and you tend to follow to certain styles, trying to be the guy just walking guys down when you've got a lot more God-given abilities that you've got to put to use.
“ Seeing the type of foot speed he (Mayweather) had and hand speed in front of me . . . really lit a fire under me to become a better fighter, to start using every tool that I have and not just get put into one dimension, where I started walking guys down, like I did with Berto, and trying to be that big man and trying to have muscles. . . .”
That doesn’t mean he’ll shy away from Kamegai.
“ I've been watching film on him and he comes to fight. He's one of those guys that doesn't back down. He just keeps coming. He wants to get it on with you. I've seen a couple of times in the ring where, if he does get hit with a good shot, it just fires him up and he wants to go for it.
“Just look at his record. Twenty-one knockouts: He comes to put you out.”
It’s a fine line Guerrero will be walking Saturday, but his versatility should be the difference in the fight if he’s still really “The Ghost.”