LOS ANGELES – Ruben and Robert Guerrero are not the kind of father-and-son boxing team that seek attention and accolades, despite their obvious success.
Ruben, who introduced his son to boxing and coached him through the amateurs, took over as head trainer prior to Guerrero’s IBF title-regaining stoppage of Spend Abazi (35-1 at the time) in Demark in February of 2007.
Since that fight, Guerrero is unbeaten in 11 consecutive bouts, spanning five weight classes. The 29-year-old southpaw has held major titles at featherweight – where he scored impressive knockouts of current 130-pound beltholder Gamaliel Diaz (KO 6) and contenders Martin Honorio (TKO 1) and Jason Litzau (TKO 8) – and at junior lightweight, where he outpointed classy South African titleholder Malcolm Klassen. He outpointed former lightweight champ Joel Casamayor in a junior welterweight bout before dropping down to 135 pounds where he picked up two interim belts with a brutally dominant unanimous decision over rugged former title challenger Michael Katsidis last April.
In his next and most recent bout, Guerrero (30-1-1, 18 knockouts) jumped to the welterweight division where he won the WBC’s interim title with a unanimous decision over previously undefeated contender Selcuk Aydin in July.
The Gilroy, Calif., native has accomplished all of this while helping to take care of his wife Casey, who battled leukemia for the past five years, and their two children, as well as deal with a shoulder injury that canceled a scheduled showdown with Marcos Maidana last summer and kept him out of the ring between his bouts with Katsidis and Aydin.
However, while the boxing community has expressed its admiration for the manner in which he handled his family drama – he received the Bill Crawford award for “Courage in Overcoming Adversity” from the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America last year – his name is seldom mentioned when members of the media talk about the pound-for-pound ratings.
His father, who isn’t on the radar of most fans and boxing writers, has never been mentioned as a Trainer of the Year candidate.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Ruben Guerrero told RingTV.com at a Monday media workout for his son’s HBO-televised welterweight showdown with former two-time titleholder Andre Berto, which takes place at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., on Saturday.
“My only concern is my son and getting the best out of him for every fight. We’re a good team and we’re just going to keep rockin’ and rollin’ along.”
Guerrero, who was trained by veteran Joe Goossen at the start his career and later by John Bray, says he has a special bond with his father in and out of the gym.
“We have mutual respect for each other as men,” he said. “A lot of father-and-son boxing teams don’t work because the father-trainers don’t have that respect for their sons. They still see them as boys or they just see them as boxers. My Dad and I respect each other away from boxing and when we’re in camp.”
One can’t argue with the results. However, while he’s been a world-class fighter for years, many fans and media have a hard time seeing him as an “elite” boxer.
“I don’t really think about the pound-for-pound rankings much,” Guerrero said. “I guess it’s fun for the fans. For me, those kinds of rankings are for guys who only fight the best, and that’s what I try to do. That’s why I’m fighting Berto, because it’s nice to get that recognition.”
If Guerrero decisively beats Berto, he should at least receive consideration to be among the best fighters in the sport. Right?
Guerrero’s co-managers, Bob Santos and Luis DeCubas Jr., aren’t so sure it will happen. And they’re not as low-key as Ruben and Robert.
“Should he get pound-for-pound recognition? Yes. Will he? No, I doubt it, because he never gets credit for anything,” said Santos. “Robert does things nobody else does but he stays under the radar for some reason. He goes overseas to win a world title. He beats Katsidis better than Juan Manuel Marquez did. He jumps two weight classes after an injury and a year and half off, but it’s never enough.
“Robert has boxed as light as 122 pounds, which means he’s fought in six weight classes. The only other active fighter who’s done that is Manny Pacquiao. But all the attention from the media and from the networks go to certain fighters who have certain connections. You got guys who have had one good fight against one decent fighter and suddenly the media’s talking about them being ‘pound for pound.’ Adrien Broner knocks out Antonio DeMarco and people say he’s the next Floyd Mayweather.”
Santos says the same media members who ignore Guerrero often overrate other fighters who have yet to prove their championship caliber.
“Broner has one good win,” he said. “It was an impressive knockout, but come on, let’s be real about his opponent. DeMarco is a slow, flat-footed guy from Mexico who had 15 amateur bouts. It’s too soon to call Broner the next Floyd Mayweather. That’s crazy. Why does the media do that?
“These are the same guys who said Francisco Bojado was the next Roberto Duran. Francisco Bojado with eight pro bouts was being compared to Duran. Zab Judah was supposed to be Pernell Whitaker with a punch. Now Broner is the next Mayweather. Hey, let’s see if Broner can do what Robert has done. We’ll see how great Broner is when he goes all the way to 154 pounds and fights a top junior middleweight. “
DeCubas says part of the reason Guerrero hasn’t received his due respect is that he has defeated top fighters who are not well known in the U.S.
“Malcolm Klassen is better than anyone Broner has fought,” he said. “Klassen would beat DeMarco, easy. Aydin was an Olympian. He dropped a Cuban superstar (two-time Olympic gold medalist) Mario Kindelan in the amateurs. (Junior middleweight contender) Erislandy Lara sparred with Aydin and told me that Aydin has the heaviest hands of anyone he’s been in the ring with. Robert handled that kind of power in his first bout at welterweight.”
Against Berto (28-1, 22 KOs), Guerrero will have to deal with power and speed. It’s the latter attribute that Guerrero is concerned about.
“Speed is the best thing in Berto’s arsenal,” he said. “That’s why we brought in a lot of very fast sparring partners during our camp in Las Vegas. We wanted to be ready for speed, because that’s how he hurts guys. He surprises them with his speed. I’m ready for it and I’ve got a game plan do deal with anything he brings to the ring.”
DeCubas has a game plan to bring Guerrero respect if a Berto victory doesn’t do the job.
“We’ll invite Broner to step up and fight for the WBC title,” he said. “All of the media hyping Broner should be hyping Robert after the Berto fight, but if they think Broner is that good, put him in with Robert. We’ll stop that hype train right now.”
The opening bout to HBO’s Championship Boxing broadcast (10:00 p.m. ET/PT) will be an explosive one if Keith Thurman has his way. The 23-year-old welterweight prospect has stopped all but one of his 18 pro opponents and he wants to keep the knockouts coming against former titleholder Carlos Quintana.
“Boxing loves knockouts and young fighters who go for knockouts. That’s me,” Thurman (18-0, 17 KOs), of Clearwater, Fla., told RingTV. “I come to hurt. This is the hurt business.”
Thurman’s self-proclaimed “KOs for Life” mentality won’t intimidate Quintana, a 36-year-old veteran from Puerto Rico who has faced his share of undefeated power-punchers and “punishers.” The savvy southpaw has fought prime versions of both Miguel Cotto and Paul Williams, as well as Joel Julio, when the Colombian boxer-banger was 27-0 with 26 knockouts.
Quintana outboxed Julio to a unanimous decision in 2006 and in February of ’08, he upset Williams when the towering WBO beltholder held a 33-0 record and was regarded as the most the most avoided fighter in boxing.
In his last fight, Quintana knocked out heavy handed junior middleweight prospect DeAndre Latimore on the Cotto-Floyd Mayweather undercard in May.
“This dude is dangerous, he’s my biggest test,” said Thurman. “This is definitely a step up for me. He’s upset a lot of good fighters, so I expect him to come into this fight upset-minded. He’s been in this scenario before. I haven’t. I want to show fans what I can do when in this position.
“I prefer to fight at 147 pounds but I’m coming up a few pounds (to junior middleweight) for this fight because I wanted a challenge. I want to get respect in boxing.”
Photos / Scott Kilbride
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