By Lem Satterfield
Southpaw WBO and WBA interim lightweight king Robert Guerrero is listed at 5-foot-8, a full one inch shorter than interim WBA junior welterweight titlist Marcos Rene Maidana, his Aug. 27 opponent for a clash that will take place at the H.P. Pavillion in San Jose, Calif., not far from Guerrero's hometown of Gilroy, Calif.
But during Thursday's promotional press conference at the H.P. Pavillion touting their bout, the 28-year-old Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 knockouts) said that it was he who was looking down on the 27-year-old Maidana (30-2, 27 KOs) of Argentina
"Marcos Maidana's a pretty good sized junior welterweight, you know? Big shoulders, a solid guy, but I think that I was like an inch or two taller than him," said Guerrero, who will pursue his 14th straight victory, his 10th knockout during that time and his sixth belt in a fourth different weight class.
"I would say that he was a little bit smaller than I expected, because I've seen him in person," said Guerrero. "But I had never stood up right next to him and been face to face with him. I would say that we were almost pretty much right there eye to eye in that range."
Guerrero is coming off of an April 9, unanimous decision win over Australia's hammer-fisted Michael Katsidis (27-4, 22 KOs) that earned him his fourth and fifth career title belts over his third weight class.
Already a two-time IBF featherweight and one-time IBF super featherweight champion, Guerrero won the interim WBA and interm WBO crowns against Katsidis in a battle that took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"Today [Thursday,] it was great being in San Jose, where the fight is going to take place. There was a lot of media there and they were pretty excited about the idea of HBO bringing a world chamnpionship fight to San Jose," said Guerrero.
"Everybody's really excited about the fight, but I went into the press conference just there to do my job. So I was staying focused and not getting caught up in the event," said Guerrero. "With the fact that it was basically in my hometown, there was a lot of local press and local newspapers from around town. I tried not to get caught up and to keep my eyes on the prize, and that prize comes with getting the victory on Aug. 27."
Maidana won the WBA's interim belt in the main event to Guerrero-Katsidis, thanks to a majority decision over 34-year-old, three-time world champion, Erik Morales (51-7, 35 KOs), of Tijuana, Mex.
"This was the first time that I've been face to face with with Marcos Maidana, but this was the second time that I saw him since Las Vegas when we fought on the same card at the MGM Grand," said Guerrero, who last suffered defeat by a December, 2005 split-decision to Gamaliel Diaz, whom Guerrero stopped in the sixth round of their June, 2006 rematch.
"There was a staredown and a faceoff for the photos, but there was no trash talking at all. He was really respectful," said Guerrero. "So I'd say that Marcos Maidana was his usual self and he seemed confident. He was quiet and relaxed and calm, so there wasnothing that stood out."
Maidana's losses have been against former world champion Andriy Kotelnik (31-4-1, 13 KOs) of the Ukraine in February of 2009, and to WBA junior welterweight champion Amir Khan (25-1, 17KOs), the latter, by unanimous decision in December after Maidana rose from a first-round knockdown and nearly stopped Khan in the 10th.
Considered a knockout artist, Maidana's power is viewed as his biggest asset. But Guerrero said that he, as well, will be able to carry his power up into the next weight class and dish out the necessary punishment.
"I think that my punching power is going to surprise a lot of people. I think that it's going to surprise Marcos Maidana too, because right now, I'm at maintaining at about 147 or 148 pounds," said Guerrero.
"I've been working out, otherwise, I would be walking around at 152 or 153 around there," said Guerrero. "Being in camp, I'm getting stronger, faster and better. My skills are improving and everything's getting sharper. I think that I've just stepped up my game to another level."
Guerrero said that he expects to soon be in Big Bear, Calif., training at the altitude of around 7,500 feet above sea level.
"I should be up there by this weekend training and it will be great to be there. But I've already been out in training camp," said Guerrero. "I'm just getting better and better. I'm 100 percent ready to go 12 rounds and to take advantage of this opportunity to turn in the best possible performance."
The winner of a July 23, unification bout in Las Vegas featuring Khan and IBF belt-holder Zab Judah (41-6, 28KOs) could be elevated to the title of Super Champion in accordance with organization rules involving titlists who hold two belts.
If that happens, then Guerrero-Maidana could likely be for the WBA's regular championship.
"You know, I've been asking for these fights, and I've finally got one of the best guys in the world in the ring, and if you check out the fight, it's going to be one of those fights where the action is going to be back and forth," said Guerrero. "I've just got to go out and I've just got to win. But that's would just be icing on the cake if you knock the guy out. And there could be a knockout. Who knows?"
In spite of the stakes, Guerrero said that he feels no extra pressure and that the atmosphere will, in fact, bring out the best in him.
"Being in my hometown, you have to carry yourself into the ring emotionally charged and ready to go. You know, you have go in there and get the job done and not necessarily fight for the crowd. But with my style of fighting, I just get in there and I do what I know how to do best and I usually leave everybody happy," said Guerrero.
"With Maidana, if the competition is better, then he gets better. It's like the more that you hit him, he gets better as the fight goes on," said Guerrero. "That's the same thing with me. The better the competition, the better I am. I'm excited about this fight, and I just can't wait."