LOS ANGELES – The Robert Guerrero-Yoshihiro Kamegai main event for Saturday’s tripleheader at StubHubCenter in Carson, Calif., has been overshadowed by the fascinating featherweight matchup between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko, which serves as the co-feature of the Showtime Championship Boxing broadcast.
However, Guerrero and Kamegai didn’t seem to mind being shoved out of the spotlight by the featherweight Olympians at Thursday’s final press conference at the Biltmore Hotel.
Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 knockouts), who hasn’t fought since dropping a one-sided decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May, is just happy to be back in the sport after the time off – which included a few months of legal jostling with Golden Boy Promotions over contractual issues early in the year.
Kamegai (24-1-1, 21 KOs), last seen in the U.S. dropping a 10-round decision to Johan Perez one year ago (also at StubHub Center), is just happy to be fighting someone as notable as Guerrero.
“It’s good to be back,” a beaming Guerrero, who has resolved his issues with Golden Boy, told RingTV.com after the presser. “It’s good to see everyone with Golden Boy and all the guys in the media after being away. It’s feels like not seeing family for a while and then being reunited.”
Both welterweights have made some changes to their training teams or routines that add to their confidence and eagerness to fight.
Kamegai, a Japanese fringe contender based in Tokyo, changed trainers after the Perez fight. The 31-year-old slugger trained with Ismael Salas in Las Vegas prior to fighting Perez and he had the Cuban coach in his corner for the Showtime Extreme-televised bout. Kamegai has trained in Tokyo under former junior featherweight title challenger Yuichi Kasai for his last two bouts, stoppage victories over Timothy Hunt last December and Jung-Hoon Yang in April.
“There’s better communication with Kasai than I had with Salas,” Kamegai told RingTV.com through translator Nobu Ikushima. “There were benefits to training in Las Vegas with Salas – I could isolate myself and focus only my gym work – but training in Japan is more convenient.”
Kamegai says Salas wanted him to use his height and reach better and box more. Kasai has returned him to a more aggressive style.
“How aggressive I fight depends on who I am facing,” he said. “This fight with Guerrero is about stamina, boxing a little more than usual but also throwing more punches.”
Guerrero, who says he’s been training since January, welcomes an high-volume boxing match.
“I like my new training regimen,” said Guerrero, who has teamed up with CrossFit conditioning program to work his body back into fighting shape. “I feel fast. My hands and feet are quicker. I’m moving better and I feel like I’ve finally grown into the welterweight division.”
Guerrero, who trained in his hometown of Gilroy, Calif., for the Kamegai fight, moved up from the lightweight division to the 147-pound weight class in 2012 following more than a year of inactivity. The former two-time featherweight beltholder and 130-pound titleholder beat Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto that year, which earned his shot at Mayweather.
Guerrero’s success in four weight classes (skipping the 140-pound division entirely) is something to be respected, according to Kamegai, but to an extent.
“I’m honored to be fighting a great fighter like Robert Guerrero,” Kamegai said during the press conference, “but in the ring, it’s all business.”
Guerrero expects nothing less from Kamegai.
“I’ve watched some of his fights,” Guerrero told RingTV.com. “You hit him with good shots and he’ll just come back harder. He comes to fight and bang it out and he wants to break you down.
“I’m the type of guy who likes to fight, too.”
Video: Daniel Morales
Email Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer