By Sean Crose
“You know,” Robert Guerrero said to me on a Tuesday conference call to promote Saturday’s fight with Japan’s Hoshihiro Kamegai, “I’m going to go out there and stick to my game plan.” His game plan might have to be a pretty good one. For although Kamegai might appear to be a mere tune up for Guerrero, the man has skills.
In fact, Kamegai wallops to the body in a way reminiscent of Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin. Is Kanegai truly, I asked Guerrero, someone he wants to brawl with? “If it comes to a boxing match it’ll become a boxing match,” Guerrero responded. And if it becomes something else? “I’m always game for a slugging match,” he said.
Guerrero has a lot to prove on Saturday. His last fight was definitive loss to Floyd Mayweather well over a year ago. It was the kind of sound defeat that a fighter can find hard to come back from. Still, Guerrero sounded positive on Tuesday’s conference call. He was friendly with reporters and took time to answer their questions at length.
“I felt it wasn’t the best of me in there,” the man they call the Ghost said of his megafight with Mayweather in 2013. “I wasn’t really satisfied with my performance then.”
Give Guerrero this, he’s taken it upon himself to up his game. For the welterweight is now an adherent of CrossFit, a grueling but seemingly well rounded alternative fitness program. “You’re always looking to better yourself as a fighter,” he said of the experience.
There’s little doubt the man is thrilled with the results of his new regimen. In fact, the public nature of Guerrero’s cutting edge training is reminiscent of over a quarter century ago, when Evander Holyfied’s then advanced method’s captured the public’s attention.
“My endurance is through the roof,” Guerrero claimed on Tuesday. “It (CrossFit) fits just right.”
His opponent, Kamegai, certainly hopes Guerrero’s approach in the ring on Saturday will fit just right, too. The Tokyo native made it clear he’s not letting Guerrero’s long absence from the ring mislead him into thinking the man is through as a boxer.
“As far as his (Guerrero’s) ring rust,” Kamegai said, “he had a long layoff before.” Kamegai went on to explain that Guerrero looked good in his return. Therefore, he expects the Ghost to look good in his return on Saturday, as well. Kamegai, however, appears to be prepared. “His (Guerrero’s) speed is fast and he throws a lot of jabs,” the fighter said to me. “In training camp I tried to keep a good distance.”
To me, this fight comes down to two questions. The first is whether or not Kamegai will be able to accumulate some of his devastating body shots. The second is whether or not CrossFit will have prepared Guerrero to endure those body shots, should they land in large numbers.
As for Oscar De La Hoya, who was also on the call, he did what a promoter should do, which is build the fight up. “It’s exciting to be on the call with two exciting fighters,” he said, playing up the moment for the assembled media. “We’re thrilled to be showcasing a tremendous card once again.”
Yet De La Hoya also made it clear that he wants the world to believe his job is to give the fans the fights they want. Truth be told, I feel he believes it himself. When I asked him if Guerrero could possibly go on to meet a Top Rank fighter, provided he wins this Saturday, De La Hoya’s response was telling.
“We’re all about the fans,” he said, “giving them the best fights they have to offer.” So, was that a “yes?” Could we possibly see Guerrero facing the likes of Pacquiao, Marquez or Bradley in the future?
“If it means making the most money (by) making the best fights happen that the fight fans want to watch,” De La Hoya exclaimed, “then that’s what s going to happen.”
Let’s hope those words ultimately ring true.