By Ryan Maquiñana
Floyd Mayweather will not be sauntering through the HP Pavilion tunnel with his signature swagger on July 28th, but Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero is finding out that Selcuk Aydin might be a fitting opponent after all.
"For all these years I have been waiting for a major fight in the U.S.A., but nobody wanted to fight me,” Aydin (23-0, 17 KOs) said. “Andre Berto ducked me over years, Victor Ortiz decided that it would be better for his career to lose to Mayweather than to me, and Mayweather himself obviously prefers doing time in jail to stepping in the ring with me.”
If Aydin’s propensity to call out the big names sounds familiar, it’s because Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs) has felt the same way about being avoided by them. However, the similarities stop there, as Aydin, a self-proclaimed “Ghostbuster” from Trabzon, Turkey, will meet Guerrero on the aforementioned date for the WBC interim welterweight title.
Showtime will televise the clash, which will take place in San Jose, Calif., a mere 33 miles north of Gilroy, Guerrero’s hometown.
“He’s a hothead. He comes like a pit bull,” Guerrero said of his foe. “He’s going to do whatever it takes to win, whether it means hitting me on the break, or even hitting me after the bell. It’s going to make it an exciting fight where anything can happen.”
While Guerrero will be moving up two divisions from lightweight to welterweight, Aydin has been the number one contender for the green and gold belt at 147 pounds for almost three years, taking his frustrations out on Jo Jo Dan in his last bout by leaving a visual calling card.
“I give props to Robert Guerrero that he is man enough to actually fight me,” the Turkish pressure fighter acknowledged before doing a little boasting of his own. “He will eventually regret this decision when he finds himself at hospital with a broken jaw like my last opponent."
“The Ghost” spoke with BoxingScene.com as he mentally prepares himself for his return to training camp following seven months of inactivity due to an injury to his left shoulder.
BoxingScene.com: Congratulations on finally signing the contract for the Aydin fight, which will be your debut at 147 pounds. You know your body. What’s going to be the biggest challenge bypassing 140 and becoming a full-fledged welterweight off the bat?
Robert Guerrero: Probably just staying focused. Pretty much, I’m naturally a big guy. I walk around at a good weight. Making 47’s going to be no problem. It’s just doing everything right with the diet plan and making the adjustment to be the strongest 147 I can be. For one thing, I don’t have to cut a lot of weight. As far as diet, I’ll be doing things like adding more protein and carbs. We still got a little bit of time before the hard, hard training, so I’ll sit down with my manager Bob Santos and my team and we’ll make the right adjustments.
BoxingScene.com: I’m sure your recovering left shoulder will come into play as far as your adjustment to welterweight. What’s the status on that? Are you hitting the heavy bag or able to spar at full strength now if you had to?
Robert Guerrero: I’ve been doing everything in the gym except sparring, especially since it’s so far away from the fight. I’ve been hitting the bags at full strength. I haven’t sparred yet, but I can’t wait to get in the ring and start sparring soon to try it out.
BoxingScene.com: What about your physical therapy sessions with Lisa Giannone at Active Care in San Francisco to work on your shoulder? Will you resume those sessions, or are you done for the time being?
Robert Guerrero: We’re going to work with Lisa the last six weeks heading into the fight as far as the conditioning. She does a tremendous job with everything, as far as cardio, working your legs, back, and everything. I’m excited for that, too.
BoxingScene.com: Having to sit on the sidelines every day must be excruciating from a mental aspect. What’s the toughest thing about having an involuntary layoff like that, knowing there is no immediate fight on the horizon and that you have to get back to 100 percent physically?
Robert Guerrero: The only thing on my mind was how come all these guys didn’t want to fight me. You had [Floyd] Mayweather, [Victor] Ortiz, [Manny] Pacquiao, and [Juan Manuel] Marquez. I was Marquez’ mandatory at lightweight for almost two years. That’s the biggest issue I had. I wanted to get them in the ring, and it’s frustrating. It digs at me a lot. I wanted to fight them to show why I’m a five-time champion and why I deserve to be at the top.
BoxingScene.com: This fight has brewing for quite some time now, so I’m sure you’ve had time to size up Aydin, who’s a pure pressure fighter but tends to get reckless at times. So far, this relentless bullying style has worked, as Jo Jo Dan found out the hard way. What’s your overall take on the matchup as well as his vow to break your jaw the way he did to Dan?
Robert Guerrero: I got word that he could be a potential fight a while ago, so I’ve been watching film of him and breaking him down. There’s a lot of things he can do. You have to be prepared. He’s a strong guy. He comes forward. He puts pressure. He’s got good punching power with the way he broke Jo Jo Dan’s jaw. You know he’s got some power. Also, he’s one of the guys that no one wants to fight. [Andre] Berto, Ortiz, Mayweather—none of them want to get in the ring with him. So since we both got the same problem, we said, ‘Let’s get in the ring. Let’s do it.’
Now he said he’s going to break my jaw. If they gave me a title for every time someone said they were going to be a “Ghostbuster” or something like that, I’d be a 30-time world champion. He’s not going to intimidate me at all. When I beat him, it’s going to break a lot of the critics’ jaws for all the crap they’ve been talking about me.
BoxingScene.com: Speaking of which, I know you wanted to fight Floyd Mayweather for his WBC 147-pound title. However, a lot of people felt like you had no business calling Mayweather out because you had not yet fought at 140 pounds, or because you had yet to fight a big-name opponent. Did or does that bother you regarding what critics had to say about how vocal you were in pursuing the Mayweather fight?
Robert Guerrero: Yeah, it does. When you go out there and you win world championships, and you deserve the fight, and then you hear some of these critics that just read and watch—most of whom don’t know a damn thing about being in the ring—it’s just a matter of getting a chance to fight these top guys and making these critics put a foot in their mouth. That’s why I took the fight with Aydin. None of these other guys want to fight, so let’s take out the guy that none of these guys want to fight and shut these critics up.
BoxingScene.com: Your fight with Aydin not only has the interim title up for grabs, it also comes with the No. 1 contender spot. And with Floyd supposedly going to jail for 90 days following his fight with Miguel Cotto, he’ll be left with quite a dilemma if you beat Aydin. In that case, he would either have to hand you the full title by refusing to fight you, or making a fight with you eventually. How do you feel about either scenario?
Robert Guerrero: You know me. I don’t want nothing given to me. I want to fight Floyd. If he’s pound-for-pound the greatest fighter who ever lived, then fight the mandatory. I want to beat him and show everyone that I’m one of the best fighters in the world. I don’t want to be handed the title. If I have to face him at 154 [pounds] if he decides to stay there after the Cotto fight, then I’d fight him there. But right now I’m focused on Aydin.
BoxingScene.com: Yuriorkis Gamboa was praised throughout the boxing world for moving up two weight classes from featherweight to lightweight in order to fight Brandon Rios, only for it to fall apart at the negotiating table. Why do you think he was generally applauded for rising in weight while you were scrutinized?
Robert Guerrero: It’s definitely a double standard. Everybody was giving [Gamboa] props for moving up two weight classes, and he didn’t even show up to the press conference. To go right into a title fight without a tune-up fight, I think I’m showing that I’m not afraid of any challenges, but I don’t think I’m getting credit for that.
Maybe it’s because where I’m from. If you’re out here from the Bay Area, and you’re tearing it up, they never give you credit. That’s the great thing about us fighters from the Bay Area. Look at Andre Ward. Look at Nonito [Donaire]. Nothing’s ever handed to us. We have to go out there and work for it.
BoxingScene.com: In the press release announcing this fight, you said that you added Luis DeCubas Jr. and Walter Kane to your team. What will their roles be exactly?
Robert Guerrero: [Luis Jr.] and Bob Santos are working together on putting the fights together. Walter will help Bob on the legal end and the management end, and that way, it takes some of the weight off of Santos’ shoulders, and he can focus on helping me with the training and staying in shape. During my career, I’ve worked with Luis Sr., and I’m excited to have them on.
BoxingScene.com: You’ll be coming back to HP Pavilion in San Jose, where tickets for your fight with Marcos Maidana last August were on pace to sell out before your unfortunate injury caused it to be canceled. Selcuk Aydin is not as well-known as Maidana is here in America, so what is it about this fight, in your opinion, that should get your hometown fans excited about filling the Shark Tank again on July 28th?
Robert Guerrero: I think no matter what, they’re going to come out. Bay Area fans love boxing, and they’re great fans. They’re hungry for a big fight, and I’m fighting for a WBC title at welterweight where all the big names are, so I think they’ll fill it up again.
Based on his history in the amateurs (Aydin was suspended for five years by the AIBA after attacking a referee), he’s a hothead. He comes like a pit bull. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win, whether it means hitting me on the break, or even hitting me after the bell. It’s going to make it an exciting fight where anything can happen.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly column for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (CSNBayArea.com). He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Panel. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org , check out his blog at norcalboxing.net or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.