By Ryan Maquiñana
When Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero incurred a partially torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder last week, he was forced to pull out of his scheduled Aug. 27 homecoming bout in San Jose against Marcos Maidana for the WBA “regular” junior welterweight title.
The 28-year-old native of Gilroy, Calif., subsequently met with Dr. Michael Dillingham, renowned for reconstructing the careers of football legends Jerry Rice (knee) and Joe Montana (back) among numerous pro athletes. Since then, Guerrero has agreed to undergo arthroscopic surgery next Tuesday to repair the injury, which will put him on the shelf between four to six months.
After his manager Bob Santos spoke to BoxingScene.com earlier in the week, Guerrero, a five-time beltholder in three divisions, gave his perspective on the recent turn of events. In our conversation, he touched on the fans’ reactions, how the injury escalated from his football days, and his personal outlook on the impact it could have on his career.
ON THE HISTORY OF HIS LEFT SHOULDER:
“I first hurt it playing football when I was younger, and it carried onto boxing. But the thing is, when I would warm up, the adrenaline would rush in and I’d feel OK. But once, when I was an amateur, it surfaced again in a tournament. I took six or seven months off, but I never saw a doctor about it. I thought all I needed was rest. I didn’t know that this damage would creep up on me in the long run, and it caught up to me.”
ON HOW THE INJURY OCCURRED AND IF THERE’S A SILVER LINING TO IT:
“Yes, it was a straight left to the body in sparring. I just thank God it happened in training and not in the fight, knowing that Marcos Maidana is the one of most brutal fighters out there, where he comes out and puts pressure and throws very hard punches. He makes it tough, and you have to be 100 percent in there with him. Not being able to move my arm after I hurt it, and a couple of days after that not being able to just pick it up was scary. I’m just thankful it didn’t happen during the fight, because when you have a huge setback like that then, not being able to defend yourself in the ring and taking the punishment and suffering a loss really hurts a fighter’s career where it takes a long time to bounce back from that.”
ON RECEIVING THE NEWS THAT HIS INJURY WAS NOT CAREER-THREATENING:
“It’s scary. But when you get the results from a guy like Dr. Dillingham, who’s a specialist and who’s worked with the best, to say that’s it’s fixable was a relief. When he told me that, it took a lot of stress off my mind on what’s going to happen to me. At the time, I thought, ‘Am I going to be out for good? Am I going to be out for a year or two?’ For me to hear that I’d only be out for four to six months, and then after that, I should be back in the ring going full-blown, I’m just thankful. I just thank God that it’s not any worse.”
ON PUTTING HIS INJURY IN PERSPECTIVE IN LIGHT OF EVERYTHING ELSE, E.G., TEMPORARILY POSTPONING HIS CAREER TO TEND TO HIS WIFE CASEY, WHO HAS SINCE RECOVERED FROM A BOUT WITH LEUKEMIA:
“Just having the experience of having gone through everything, you have to know how to be positive about everything. I’ve been through a lot inside and outside the ring, and when something like this happens, you just have to thank God that everybody’s healthy, and you’ve just got to keep on trucking through. You have to put your faith in God to bless you because he doesn’t put us through anything we can’t handle. You’ve just got to learn from everything and just be stronger every time you go out.”
ON THE E-MAILS AND PHONE CALLS OF SUPPORT HE’S RECEIVED FROM THE FANS:
“It means a lot to have that support. You always want to be a champion inside the ring but outside of the ring also. I’m just thankful to the fans for being behind me. They are the best. That’s why I work hard and do what I do, so unfortunately, while I had this setback, I’ll be back again, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and The Ring’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.