12 Rounds With … Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero

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Former two-division world champion Robert Guerrero talks about chasing his kids around in retirement and the highlights of a standout 16-year career.

Robert Guerrero celebrates after his January 2016 bout against Danny Garcia. Guerrero announced his retirement in July. (Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions)

Robert Guerrero, an all-action two-division world champion is at peace with his retirement decision in July. Guerrero’s career is highlighted by a multi-million dollar, 147-pound championship loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The 34-year-old Guerrero and his father and trainer, Ruben, orchestrated a 15-fight win streak producing world titles at 126 and 130 pounds, interim crowns at 135 and 147, and consecutive 147-pound unanimous decisions over champions Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto before being dethroned by Mayweather.

Guerrero’s last fight in July, a third-round TKO loss to Omar Figueroa, represented his only stoppage loss of his career. His resume is among the top of the current welterweight crop, having stepped in against Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Mayweather.

In 2010 Guerrero put his career on hold to help support his wife, Casey, recover from a bone marrow transplant and her battle with cancer.

Despite being retired, “The Ghost” took some time out of a busy schedule that includes keeping up with his three children, Savannah, Robert Jr. and Simona, announcing duties on FS1 and rebuilding cars with his brothers to talk about his standout career.

Why was retiring the right decision?

When it’s time, it’s time. I’ve had a great run. I’m happy with all of the work that’s been put in and titles won. Being home, relaxed, spending time with the family and surveying what I’ve done in boxing, it feels right. Walking away was easy.

I don’t have an itch or hunger like, ‘Oh, man, maybe one more.’ I’m happy and content with the decision and my accomplishments in boxing. Throughout my career, I always said I could walk away from boxing and be fine, knowing God’s taking care of me as long as I put him first.

A good friend always told me I was God's warrior, born to fight. I enjoyed every minute of every war. I represented my lord and savior Jesus Christ with the bible verse Acts 2:38 on my trunks. If I reached one person and brought that person closer to Christ, then it was all worth it.

Was Garcia your last great fight and do you still contend that you won?

I applied pressure, landed a lot of shots, and he was throwing fewer punches per round. But he got the win. That’s the way it went. I’m fine with it. There’s no bad taste in my mouth.

How rewarding was it to rise from the canvas against Thurman, appearing to win the remaining rounds to the approval of cheering fans?

It’s a loss in the books, but when you’re a peoples’ champion and the fans love you no matter what, there’s no greater feeling.

Leaving the ring to fans’ cheers is like winning a world championship, making people happy about watching you fight.

What has been so unique about your career-long training relationship with your father?

The way my grandfather raised my father was the same way my father raised me, and the way I’m raising my son, Robert Jr., to respect your parents.

My father’s been there through thick and thin, working to support my career, renting hotels. It’s God, family and everything after that.

We've kept a strong relationship. I wouldn't want it any other way but having my Pops in my corner during the final run of my career. I'm grateful for all he's done.

What aspects of boxing will you miss? Won’t miss?

I’ll miss the hard training, getting focused for a fight, sparring partners, the interviews, but I won’t miss making weight. My daughter, Savannah, is 12 and really involved in competition cheering and gymnastics. My son, Robert Jr., is 10, playing baseball, Pop Warner football and he’s been boxing and loves it.

I’ll allow him to box, but I told him he has to take it seriously. We were blessed to adopt our 17-month old daughter, Simona, whose hobbies are running around, tearing the house apart and throwing stuff everywhere. Chasing her is keeping me in shape.

What are some of your post-boxing hobbies?

I’ve built three cars in the past couple of months – a 1978 Pontiac Bonneville Broughham, a 1965 Chevrolet Impala.

Right now, we’re finishing up a 1990 Dodge Diesel truck. Once I’m working on a car, I’m in a zone like training for a fight. I’ll be out in the shop sometimes until 1 a.m.

Can you discuss winning your title at 126 pounds by ninth-round knockout against Erik Aiken (September 2006), second at 130 against Malcolm Klassen (August 2009), and third at 135 against Michael Katsidis (April 2011).

Aiken was saying he was gonna knock me out. I put pressure on him, banging the body and bringing it to the head. He quit on his stool, stopped for the first time. Diego Corrales was calling the fight, gave me a fist-bump and said, “Now, the targets on your back.”

Klassen was coming to knock me out, also, but my combinations were good, my distance was perfect for that fight. Katsidis was right after Casey’s bone marrow transplant and my first fight in Las Vegas. It was supposed to happen before when I vacated to be with Casey.

With Casey’s victory over cancer, it was my time to come back and that’s what I did. That burst of energy after the brutality of what Casey went through changed my outlook on life. It was God’s plan for me to come back.

Going down in history as fighting Mayweather, the best pound-for-pound guy of our era’s a great accomplishment. Sportsmanship and uplifting performances is what’s it all about. At the end of the day, I was there to entertain my fans and bring them joy. Former two-division world champion Robert Guerrero

How rewarding was ending the 15-month ring absence for a rise into 147, the interim title against Aydin, and the defense against two-time champion Berto?

I was getting ready to fight Marcos Maidana for the 135-pound title, but I tore my rotator cuff and was out getting therapy. It was harder making fights at 135 and 140, so I decided to go up to where Mayweather and others were. Nobody wanted to fight Aydin. I out-boxed him, landing big shots and beating him.

Berto was a big, strong, fast, legit career 147-pounder with power. It was like David against Goliath. He was saying he’d knock me out in four or five rounds. I was supposed to get out-gunned and pushed around in the ring.

We stayed in the same hotel. He was with his whole team in an elevator. I got in with them, staring right into the eyes of everyone, including him. I was in his head. I knew it was a wrap. First knockdown, I countered him by dropping him with a left hand.

I stayed on him dropped him again, and I knew I had him. I ended up almost closing both of his eyes. I felt I could have stopped him, but I wanted to punish him, teaching him a lesson by carrying him 12 rounds. To this day, I think I gave him his worst beating, ever.

What are the pluses and minuses of facing Mayweather?

Like Floyd says, everybody has a game plan until they get in the ring and he hits them.  Floyd cruises around, landing shots and winning rounds, frustrating you into trying to land one big shot.

No matter what you try, Floyd’s combination of speed, footwork, adjustments and intelligence make him phenomenal and hard to deal with.

How do you rank the top 147-pounders—Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Amir Khan, Andre Berto, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, Yordenis Ugas, Jamal James and Luis Collazo.

No. 1 is Thurman due to his stats, then, Spence is my No. 2, and Porter at No. 3. Garcia’s at No. 4, and Collazo’s No. 5. He’s a threat, no matter what. Collazo’s last fight, that knockout of Sammy Vasquez, was incredible. I’d put Peterson at No. 6 due to his fundamentals. Ugas is a tough guy and could be No. 7.

I’d put Terrance Crawford ahead of Garcia at No. 4, being able to fight left- and right-handed. But of all of the fighters I’ve ever been in the ring with, Floyd Mayweather’s the pinnacle. When I lost to Floyd Mayweather, fans congratulated me on a great fight.

Going down in history as fighting Mayweather, the best pound-for-pound guy of our era’s a great accomplishment. Sportsmanship and uplifting performances is what’s it all about. At the end of the day, I was there to entertain my fans and bring them joy.

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