By Chris Robinson
The date of August 27th will serve as somewhat of a moment of truth for Robert Guerrero. A former champion at 126 and 130 pounds, Guerrero will find himself in the most dangerous test of his career when he squares off with Argentinean banger Marcos Maidana at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California in a bout that will likely elevate him to new heights or see his career derailed in crushing fashion.
Guerrero’s career has always seemed to have much promise, as evidenced by his title-winning efforts previously, razor-sharp boxing skills, and his ability to have beaten everyone he has set foot inside of the ring with. But at 28 years old and now surrounded by a bevy of talented pugilists in the junior welterweight and welterweight classes, there is no better time than now for Guerrero to capitalize on his talents.
And Maidana certainly will serve as somewhat of a litmus test. The Buenos Aires fighter has thrilled us time and time again, from his stoppages over Victor Ortiz and Victor Cayo, his back and forth duels with Amir Khan and most recently Erik Morales, and is expected to bring out the best in Guerrero because of his constant pressure and crippling power.
Asked if this is the most dangerous fight of his career, Guerrero concedes as much.
“Oh yeah,” Guerrero told me earlier this week. “Maidana, he is one of those big-punching, hard-hitting guys where he keeps coming. You’ve seen his previous fights that he’s been in; Amir Khan, Victor Ortiz, Erik Morales, ‘Chop Chop’ Corley, and he just keeps coming to fight. He’s no pushover. He comes to do his best and most of the time the outcome is good.”
The HBO-televised feature, which sees the WBA junior welterweight crown on the line, is the kind of fight that boxing thrives of because of the beautiful and contrasting blend of styles presented by the two men. And with the fight now less than three weeks away, Guerrero admits that Maidana has consumed his life to the point where he envisions the fight unfolding in his head on a constant basis.
“Visualizing is very important in any sport, whether it’s baseball, football,” Guerrero added. “Visualizing how you are going to move, how this guy is going to move, what you are going to do in the ring. That’s part of going over your game plan and preparing the proper way. I always envision what’s going to happen in the fight. I just have to go out there and do what I do best.”
Guerrero is certainly entering the prime of his career, as evidenced by just how complete of a performance he put forth last time out in thrashing Australia’s Michael Katsidis over twelve rounds this past April inside of the MGM Grand. Guerrero had previously been hampered in training by having to care for his then-ailing wife Casey, diagnosed with cancer at the time, and points out that a full training camp out in Las Vegas was all the difference he needed in putting forth one of his most standout efforts as a professional.
“It was really good to get out to training camp and have all that weight off of my shoulders. Everybody knows the situation with my wife and I was able to get out to training camp and be 100% focused on being prepared for specific person. Not just being at home, worrying about what is going to happen with my wife, taking here to treatment, making sure she’s going to eat right, making sure everything is done right. I was lacking being focused for fights, where I used to just get in great shape and go in there and fight," said Guerrero, who was happy to share that his wife is now cancer-free.
It’s interesting to point out that Guerrero and Maidana certainly got to know each other a little bit earlier this year as the Guerrero-Katsidis bout served as an undercard attraction to Maidana’s high-pitched battle with Erik Morales on the same night. The two fighters both trained out of the same gym for their then-upcoming fights, with Maidana typically coming to the Pound 4 Pound Boxing Gym in Vegas right after Guerrero’s regimen had finished.
The respect between the two is apparent but I had to ask Robert if he saw any weaknesses in Maidana during his fight with Morales, a bout he was expected to win easily yet one that saw him struggle for long stretches of the fight.
“Not so much weakness, just seeing a very intelligent veteran in Morales, where he’s been fighting since he was fifteen, sixteen years old, and the guy knows how to fight. The guy knows how to stick to the game plan, he knows how to break a fighter and I personally think that Maidana was overlooking Erik Morales. He stepped up and gave him a run for his money,” Guerrero said.
“He did expose a lot of things in the fight and some of the things we’ve pulled and some of the things we’ve scrapped. We got to prepare for every fighter a different way and that’s the one thing I look at, now he is with his with his new coach in his second fight and you can’t expect him to be the way he was in his last fight.”
Seeing Maidana go life-and-death with Morales was shocking but you can’t overlook the brute strength the guy possesses. I took a look back with Guerrero at Maidana’s biggest win to date, his June 2009 come-from-behind TKO over Ortiz in Los Angeles, and asked what stood out to him.
“Just the rough, tough, mental aspect of Maidana,” added Guerrero. “Where, no matter what, even if he gets knocked down, he gets back up and he knocks guys down. He keeps coming and he has that will to win no matter what it’s going to take. He has that one-punch game changer where he can be losing the whole fight and you saw it with Amir Khan where he had that one-punch game-changer. That’s one thing I see in Marcos Maidana; he’s one of the most devastating punchers out there. He’ll blast you out.”
Now deep into training camp in the secluded mountains of Big Bear, California, you can sense just how focused Guerrero is for this duel just from a simple 15-minute conversation with him. The last remarks he left me with pointed to his rise to the dangerous 140-pound landscape and the imprint he is hoping to leave on the sport.
“It was always on my mind to move up several weight classes. Not just to be a world champion, but to be a world champion in multiple weight classes. I’ve done it and been successful and the goal is to be the best in the world. Be one of the best, fight the best fighters, and this is my fifth weight class. I actually started at 122 pounds. Now I’m up at 140 and I always wanted to push myself to the limit. When I leave boxing I wanted to leave knowing I did the best I could do in boxing.”