Newly-crowned WBA welterweight beltwinner Paulie Malignaggi knows first-hand what it means to rise a division and to overcome what are perceived to be significant disadvantages on the way to victory.
For in April, the 31-year-old Malignaggi (31-4, 7 knockouts) did just that by scoring a ninth-round technical knockout to dethrone the physically bigger, taller, harder-punching and previously unbeaten Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-1, 21 KOs) in front of Senchenko’s hometown fans at Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine.
So who better than Malignaggi to assess the chances of southpaw five-belt, three-division titlewinner Robert Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs) to pull off the massive task of rising not one, but two weight classes to claim victory over Turkish-born Selcuk Aydin (23-0 17 KOs) in his Showtime-televised, welterweight debut on Saturday night.
“I think the key is going to be sticking to the gameplan and sticking to what got you there,” said Malignaggi. “And in my case, that was using my boxing abilities and my skills that have allowed me to enjoy the success that I have had in my career.”
A former IBF junior welterweight beltholder who was in just his fourth welterweight bout against Senchenko, of and has not lost since falling by 11th-round knockout to Amir Khan as a junior welterweight in May of 2010.
“I knew that moving up in weight, that I would be fighting bigger guys, but I said, ‘this is what got me here,’ which is my boxing skills and my speed and the use of my legs,” said Malignaggi. “I was having a hard time making the weight at junior welterweight, so I felt like moving up to welterweight was a breath of fresh air for me.”
Like Malignaggi, Guerrero brings plenty of confidence into the bout. The 29-year-old southpaw will be after his 14th-straight victory and his 10th knockout during that run in a bout for the WBC’s interim belt at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., near Guerrero’s hometown of Gilroy.
Against Aydin, 28, Guerrero will be fighting in his sixth weight class, having started out as a junior featherweight. In victory over Aydin, Guerrero would place himself in an elite class of multi-belt, multi-division titlewinners such as Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather, Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya.
Aydin, of Hamburg, Germany, takes on Guerrero in a bout whose winner will earn the right to become the mandatory challenger for a shot at WBC titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“For Guerrero, I think that it’s a little bit different because he’s trying to make a statement in moving up two weight classes. He’s actually only fought two or three times as a lightweight, so moving up from lightweight to welterweight, he’s trying to chase Mayweather,” said Malignaggi.
“He’s trying to chase Maywearther and be a top guy like Aydin, who is a very, very physical fighter. He hits hard and he’s a rugged guy and he’ll make the fight kind of rough on you. So it will be interesting to see if Robert can execute his gameplan and to box the way that he likes to box. That will be the key — sticking to what got him there to begin with.”
In September, Guerrero had arthroscopic surgery which repaired a torn tendon in the rotator cuff of his shoulder. The injury forced him to cancel an August bout with junior welterweight Marcos Maidana. Guerrero last suffered defeat by a split-decision to Gamaliel Diaz in December 2005, but won their rematch with a sixth-round knockout in June 2006.
Can Guerrero achieve the win? RingTV.com probed the opinion of 18 boxing insiders for that answer.
Robert Guerrero TKO Selcuk Aydin: Robert Guerrero continues to be unburdened by his wife’s issues, which makes him a more focused fighter, and therefore, a more dangerous fighter.
Add in the fact he has been training up in Lake Tahoe without distraction and he has the superior skills makes him the choice over Selcuk Aydin. Guerrero by technical knockout.
Robert Guerrero KO Selcuk Aydin: Robert Guerrero is a better boxer than advertised. He’s a southpaw, is great at resetting and can fight going backwards.
Selcuk Aydin is tough and will charge forward, looking to make it a dirty fight, but I expect Guerrero to pot shot him and stop him late.
Robert Guerrero W 12 Selcuk Aydin: This is a tough fight for Robert Guerrero, who is not only facing an undefeated welterweight contender, who but carries 15 months of inactivity and a recently rehabbed shoulder injury into his first bout above 140-pounds.
If Selcuk Aydin, who is nicknamed “Mini-Tyson,” actually fought like a young Tyson — worked a jab, threw compact combinations and attacked the body — I’d pick the Germany-based Turk in what shouldn’t really be considered an upset.
His iron will and physical strength always gets the better of his opponents, but Guerrero is the most experienced and talented boxer Aydin’s faced. Guerrero will stick him with hard jabs and straight lefts all night.
And when Aydin gets in range — and he will — “The Ghost” will drop three- and four-punch combos before spinning the stronger man out of position. Guerrero will give Aydin angles in close and score to the contender’s body.
Aydin will also score, and I’m sure he’ll bust up Guerrero’s face by the late rounds of what could be an ugly fight. But the former two-division titleholder is very tough and determined. I think he’ll fight through a bloody, physical fight and earn a close decision.
Selcuk Aydin KO 10 Robert Guerrero: Sentiment is overwhelmingly with Robert Guerrero, whose fight outside of the ropes in his wife’s compelling battle against leukemia is among the best stories in any sport.
But boxing isn’t sentimental. In the year of the upset, Selcuk Aydin figures to spring another one. Too much is working against Guerrero. To wit: He is coming off shoulder surgery, he’s has been idle for more than a year.
And he’s jumping two weight classes to welter in hopes of a rich payday against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Not much is known about Aydin, a Turk who appears to be as volatile as he is powerful.
As an amateur, he reportedly punched a ref. Aydin’s temper might be his undoing. If he controls it, however, his pressure, power and experience at 147 pounds will prevail.
Robert Guerrero W 12 Selcuk Aydin: Despite Robert Guerrero fighting in a new weight class with a ton of time off, he still is the best opponent Selcuk Aydin has yet fought. Also, the fight is taking place in Guerrero’s back yard instead of Aydin’s homeland of Turkey.
Finally, I believe Guerrero’s high output and southpaw stance will short-circuit Aydin’s offense. Here’s hoping my picking slump stops right here.
Robert Guerrero UD 12 Selcuk Aydin. Even after a 15-month layoff and shoulder surgery, the determined southpaw Robert Guerrero should be able to out-box Selcuk Aydin.
The undefeated Turkish contender is rugged and strong, but has limited skills and will need Guerrero to make tactical mistakes to have a chance to win by knockout.
Selcuk Aydin KO 11 Robert Guerrero: I think both fighters have solid strengths that they bring to the table. Robert Guerrero is a solid boxer with fast hands and a southpaw stance. Selcuk Aydin is a very strong welterweight with punching power as well as physical strength.
To me, the outcome of fight comes down to the fact that I believe that in boxing, there are weight classes for a reason. Robert Guerrero has fought at 126 and 130 pounds and has had excellent success.
He moved up to 135 pounds and fought just two fights at that weight, one of them against Vicente Escobedo, who, as we saw this past weekend, is small enough to drop back down to 130.
Essentially, Robert is going from 130 to 147, and although I do think Guerrero is a solid fighter, I think he’s crazy for making that jump. Selcuk Aydin is very strong. He’s also very physical and very dirty.
He will impose size and strength on Guerrero, and those kinds of things eventually fatigue a smaller fighter, even if he may at first have some success. So the pick here is Aydin by late-round stoppage. Selcuk Aydin, knockout in the 11th round.
Robert Guerrero UD12 Selcuk Aydin: Robert Guerrero faces the obvious question of jumping two divisions and 12 pounds while coming off a layoff of more than a year due to a shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, Selcuk Aydin has been an established welterweight for the better part of his career, and will come in with the assumed advantage of power.
But Guerrero has five inches of reach on Aydin. That’s a discrepancy I feel he’ll be able to exploit by keeping the Turk’s furious advances at bay with his right jab.
Like he did in the Michael Katsidis fight, I think Guerrero will be able to dictate the pace and exchange when necessary to keep a game Aydin off-balance over 12 rounds.
Robert Guerrero W 12 Selcuk Aydin: This could be a very interesting fight. Robert Guerrero will need to be at his best. Selcuk Aydin is strong, relentless and fearless.
However, he has one way to fight. I see him as a George Chuvalo/Pavel Wolek type, but that type can be undone by someone who uses the ring, uses his brain, and engages just enough to put some hurt on the adversary.
Guerrero should be able to do this. Robert is far more versatile and skilled. If his conditioning is there and he fights smart, as I suspect he will, Guerrero wins a 12 round decision.
Robert Guerrero UD 12 Selcuk Aydin: Selcuk Aydin has not faced a sturdy, world-class foe like “The Ghost”.
Even if Robert Guerrero falls just short of a triple “A” rating, he has the skills and heart to battle Aydin on all fronts.
Robert Guerrero UD 12 Selcuk Aydin: I’m picking Robert Guerrero to beat Selcuk Aydin, but just via a narrow, but unanimous decision.
Robert Guerrero W 12 Selcuk Aydin: Because of styles alone, I have to go with Robert Guerrero in this one. I think that his length and reach will serve him well against Selcuk Aydin, who is definitely a banger, but also limited and plodding at times.
What makes the fight more interesting is that Guerrero is moving up in weight, recovering from his shoulder injury, and coming off of a lengthy layoff. But even with those factors going against him, I think that he has the talent to pull this one off.
Robert Guerrero W 12 Selcuk Aydin: This is a tough call for me because neither fighter has really established a presence of note at Welterweight. Robert Guerrero is debuting there; Selcuk Aydin has come along, but appears to have a ceiling.
Aydin has a heavy jab, solid fundamentals, and can whack with the right, but isn’t a big welter. Guerrero, despite starting at feather, will be taller and gets off quicker.
It comes down to the man who appears more complete, despite and ‘natural size’ issue and that appears Guerrero. I’m going with the name brand on points.
Robert Guerrero UD 12 Selcuk Aydin: I think Selcuk Aydin is a tough, competent boxer who could compete with almost everyone in his weight class. That includes Robert Guerrero.
However, I believe this is a significant step up for Aydin. Guerrero is an excellent all-around fighter with a lot of experience. Plus, he’ll be fighting on his home turf. Guerrero by clear unanimous decision.
Selcuk Aydin W 12 Robert Guerrero: This is a tough one. Robert Guerrero hasn’t fought in over a year. He’s coming up two weight classes and he’s facing a guy who’s been off for eight months.
I say the winner is Selcuk Aydin in a competitive fight, though I feel Guerrero’s been in tougher. He just hasn’t fought in some time and fighting the biggest component he’s ever faced.
Robert Guerrero W 12 Selcuk Aydin: I’ll go with Robert Guerrero on a 12 round decision over Selcuk Aydin. I believe Robert Guerrero will be comfortable at the weight.
I believe that Guerrero will maintain enough speed to stay one step ahead of Selcuk Aydin for the majority of the fight.
I think that Guerrero motivated by recent events in his life and will show a renewed sense of energy in winning a decision.
Selcuk Aydin W 12 Robert Guerrero: I may be going out on a ledge here, but I’m going with Selcuk Aydin in this fight. He has fought southpaws, having gone the distance over 12 rounds twice with JoJo Dan who is a difficult southpaw style to face.
Aydin learned a lot from the first fight with Dan, which I think he lost, and showed a better plan of attack in the second fight. Aydin is a crude, rough brawler, and a lot will hang on how the referee allows them to behave in the fight.
But a rough, strong natural welterweight may not be the right guy for a smaller, oft-injured fighter like Guerrero who is moving up in weight.
Robert Guerrero UD 12 Selcuk Aydin: Robert Guerrero wants to get in the ring with the big boys and has a lot to prove, having been idle for 15 months.
He’s fighting up two weight classes at 147 because if he’s ever going to get a date with the Floyd Mayweathers of the world, which he desperately wants, he’s got to start fighting at their weights.
Selcuk Aydin is a brawler, not a boxer, and Guerrero, with a healthy shoulder, clear mind and plenty of ring skills, should be able to pick him apart, though I don’t see a stoppage. Guerrero by unanimous decision.
Rising Robert Guerrero is heavily favored by a vote of 14-to-4 to break down and defeat the rugged Selcuk Aydin in Saturday’s welterweight clash.
Photos by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by Stephanie Trapp
Photo by Chris Cozzone, Fightwireimages.com
Photos by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org