Robert Guerrero hears the whispers—that his time has come and gone, that he’s washed up, that he’ll be little more than a punching bag for Danny Garcia when the two meet January 23 in Los Angeles. He hears those whispers as loud and clear as if they were being broadcast through a 1,000-watt speaker.
But rather than fly into a defensive fit of “How dare you say that!”—as many boxers would—Guerrero has chosen to respond to his critics with the measured confidence of a fighter who’s been around the block a time or two:
Think I’m finished? We’ll see.
"It’s OK that people are writing me off,” Guerrero says. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It’s definitely a motivating factor going into this fight.
“I know everyone’s picking Garcia to win. But everyone knows when my back is against the wall, I’m very difficult to beat.”
While he might not come right out and say it, Robert Guerrero (33-3-1, 18 KOs) understands why some counted him out before the ink was dry on the contract to fight Danny Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs). He’s split his last four bouts, was knocked down in two of those contests and struggled in his most recent outing: a split-decision victory over Aron Martinez in June.
But Guerrero’s last name translates as “warrior,” and the 32-year-old southpaw has been the epitome of one in and out of the ring. When he tangles with Garcia in a 147-pound title fight at Staples Center (Fox, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), the former two-division world champion fully intends to display that warrior mentality once again.
“People are writing Robert off,” says Ruben Guerrero, his father and trainer. “A victory will silence everyone and get us back on top.”
It certainly won’t come easily—then again, not much has for Guerrero of late.
A former world champion at 126 and 130 pounds (who also held interim titles at 135 and 147), Guerrero briefly put boxing aside in early 2010 to stand by his wife, Casey, and care for their children as she battled leukemia before receiving a bone marrow transplant.
Then in 2011, Guerrero had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn tendon in his rotator cuff, an injury that kept him out of the ring for 15 months. More recently, he’s had to endure cuts around his left eye in each of his last four fights.
As much physical pain as Guerrero has had to deal with, it paled in comparison to the emotional pain he dragged into the ring against Martinez. Just eight days before their June 6 bout, Guerrero’s 29-year-old cousin, Rachelle Rose Perez, died suddenly.
True to his warrior spirit, Guerrero carried on with the fight, but he was knocked down in the fourth round and failed to dominate Martinez as many anticipated he would.
“It was tough knowing that my cousin was being buried while I was on the scale and I couldn’t be there,” Guerrero says. “Like all my cousins, we were very close.
“I take nothing away from Aron Martinez—he came to fight. But I still pulled off the victory.”
Prior to the Martinez bout, Guerrero sandwiched a victory over Yoshihiro Kamegai (June 2014) between two losses to Keith Thurman (March 2015) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (May 2013). All three contests were 12-round unanimous decisions.
Because Guerrero looked truly impressive in just one of his last four contests—the win over Kamegai—some are of the opinion that “The Ghost” has entered the fading-champion portion of his career. As such, these skeptics believe that, come January 23, Guerrero will suffer the same fate as another former champ, Paulie Malignaggi, whom Garcia carved up en route to a ninth-round TKO in his last fight on August 1.
Needless to say, Guerrero’s father/trainer envisions a different outcome.
“To be honest, [Robert’s] only had one bad fight, and that was against Martinez,” Ruben Guerrero says. “Against Garcia, we’ll change the mindset of all the critics.”
Indeed, Guerrero believes his resurrection—if not redemption—starts with his 27-year-old opponent.
“Garcia is undefeated,” Guerrero says. “He’s considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. So a victory puts me right back on top in the sport.”
For complete coverage of Garcia vs Guerrero, head over to our fight page.