By Lyle Fitzsimmons
All things considered, I guess I like Robert Guerrero.
I’ve never met him, but the one time we chatted via telephone went well enough. His acumen in the ring – 29 wins in 33 fights, world titles in two weight classes – is surely respectable. And his back story outside the ropes inarguably rivals anyone’s past or present.
Based on that track record, I’d consider myself interested enough in his next career move.
But lately it’s gotten just a little bit ridiculous.
No longer content to simply stand and watch a prolonged Pacquiao-Mayweather courtship dance, it seems the generally soft-spoken (at least from my experience) and usually respectful (as far as I was aware) Californian has settled on a loudmouth tough guy approach as a new and improved M.O.
So rather than continuing a steady climb toward bigger and more lucrative quarry, he’s gone all-in with bravado these days in an effort to pick up a scrap should the big fight not occur this spring, this fall or not ever.
His recent call out of Mayweather, issued within days of “Money’s” headline-making Twitter lure to Pacquiao – in which the soon-to-be-locked-up welterweight implored the Filipino to “Step up Punk.”
Love him or hate him, it was a signature Floyd gesture.
And it set the whole sport to buzzing.
But instead of leaving a brilliantly belligerent challenge to its originator, Guerrero decided to use the exact same three-word goad in Mayweather’s direction, then compounded the nonsense by claiming he was the chosen one when it came to knocking the five-class champ from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Gentlemen, start your chest-puffs.
“Mayweather really doesn't want to fight me,” Guerrero said. “He likes to hand-pick his opponents. I'm a southpaw who's 5-9 and my walk-around weight is 152 pounds. I'm bigger than he is.
“Plus, I have incredible punching power in both hands. And most of all, I've studied this guy and know him like the back of my hand. I'm the guy that can hurt him and he knows it.”
It’s not the first time a foe has hurled invective in Mayweather’s direction.
And now that I recall, it’s not the first time the “Ghost” has pointedly cleared his throat.
When we spoke back in 2008, Pacquiao was a few days away from beating David Diaz – and Guerrero, four months off a KO of Jason Litzau, was stoking fires for a big fight still not secured.
Close your eyes and the blather is sort of similar.
“I'd knock him out in five rounds,” he said of Pacquiao. “He hasn't fought a left-hander like me who can punch and break down his style piece by piece. No question, I think he's the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He's beaten the best and he deserves all the credit he's been given.
“But I still think I'd get him out of there within five rounds.”
Back then it was kid-like confidence.
These days it’s grown-up contentiousness.
And while the recent words are more asinine, they’re just as loathsome for a breach of etiquette.
And just in case Mr. Guerrero is reading… I’ll address them specifically in his direction.
First, Robert, you’re better than that.
Some guys are heroes. Others are villains. Mayweather plays the latter role superbly, meaning there’s just no room on the marquee for anyone to unseat him by his own dastardly means. So any juvenile attempt to do so – especially by a guy who’s been a “babyface” his whole career – looks pretty stupid.
To paraphrase a wise former member of the pro wrestling elite: “Know your f’ing role.”
Second, my man, you’ve got no right.
Regardless of real or perceived dominance at 126 and 130 – and what amounts to a paper title at 135 – the idea that you deserve the big stage when your shelf’s biggest trophies are 39-year-old Joel Casamayor and four-months-past-KO’d Michael Katsidis is an insult to those who’ve built bigger resumes.
You want to get yourself in the chat for a pre- or post-Pacquiao fight? How about winning a real title at lightweight? How about beating a guy in the top 100? How about doing something that will make us tell you you’re the one, rather than you telling us?
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
Vacant IBO lightweight title – Liverpool, United Kingdom
Derry Mathews (No. 25 contender) vs. Emiliano Marsili (No. 35 contender)
Mathews (29-5-1, 15 KO): First title fight; All five career losses by KO
Marsili (23-0-1, 9 KO): First title fight; Never fought outside of Italy
Fitzbitz says: “Smaller, less-powerful Italian outgunned on foreign soil.” Matthews by decision
WBA super bantamweight title – Las Vegas, Nev.
Rico Ramos (champion) vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux (No. 1 contender)
Ramos (20-0, 11 KO): First title defense; Third fight in Nevada (2-0, 1 KO)
Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KO): First title fight; Second fight in Nevada (1-0, 1 KO)
Fitzbitz says: “Novice pro Cuban is still suspect, but should have enough here.” Rigondeaux by decision
IBF lightweight title – Guadalajara, Mexico
Miguel Vazquez (champion) vs. Ameth Diaz (No. 1 contender)
Vazquez (29-3, 13 KO): Fourth title defense; Unbeaten in Mexico since 2008 (4-0, 2 KO)
Diaz (30-10, 21 KO): First title fight; Won both his 2011 fights by KO (nine total rounds)
Fitzbitz says: “Mexican incumbent continues as an underappreciated talent.” Vazquez by decision
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.
Last week's picks: 1-0
Overall picks record: 278-92 (75.1 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.