Fernando Guerrero has been close to the top of the mountain in the 160-pound division, but the climb has taken a toll on the onetime title challenger.
After competing at that weight for nearly his entire eight-year professional career, the 29-year-old southpaw is stepping down a few pounds for his scheduled 10-round bout against Tony Harrison in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Saturday night (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
Fernando Guerrero (28-3, 20 KOs) challenged then-champion Peter Quillin for his 160-pound title in April 2013, but Quillin floored him four times en route to earning a seventh-round stoppage. Former 160-pound champ David Lemieux also dropped Guerrero four times in gaining a third-round KO in May 2014.
Guerrero followed each of those losses with decisions over Raymond Gatica and Abraham Han, respectively, but he was knocked to the canvas in both fights before emerging victorious.
"When I go down, I get back up,” Guerrero said. “I did that to beat Ishe Smith [in July 2010]. I did it when I beat Gabriel Rosado [in February 2009]. I’ve shown heart in every fight. I bounced back after [losing to] Quillin. Against Lemieux, I got cut in the first round, and they later stopped the fight when I wanted to continue. I’m a warrior. There’s no quit in me.”
Taking on Daniel Souza Santos at 157 pounds in November, Guerrero looked strong as he gained a seventh-round stoppage. He now prepares to face Harrison (22-1, 18 KOs) at that same weight Saturday as resumes his pursuit of a world title in a different division.
“I feel like I’m a big junior middleweight,” the 5-foot-9 Guerrero said. “I feel like I’ve tasted everybody’s power, and I still have my speed and power with 20 knockouts. At the end of the day, this is the weight where I belong.”
Not only will this be Guerrero’s second fight at 157 pounds, but it will also be his second bout with trainer Shadeed Suluki, who began working with the Dominican-born fighter in late 2014. Guerrero said the move has helped him become a more complete fighter.
“Shadeed is an old-school trainer who has taken me back to the fundamentals. He had me shadowboxing the whole first month I was with him,” says Guerrero, a longtime resident of Salisbury, Maryland, who now trains in Sherman Oaks, California.
“With Shadeed, it’s repeat, repeat, repeat. [He’s] not changing my style, but just adding. I love his professionalism and his confidence. He brings out the best in me.”
Guerrero relocated to California after suffering his first loss: a fourth-round TKO in June 2011 to journeyman Grady Brewer, who was stopped by Harrison in two rounds in February 2014. Guerrero hit the canvas twice against Brewer fighting at a career-low weight of 152¾ pounds.
Now Guerrero is looking to find the right balance between boxing and slugging as he looks to make an impact in another weight class.
“I honestly believe in my skills and abilities. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be boxing,” Guerrero said. “I’m my worst critic, but I’m learning. I’m still looking to be that intelligent, beautiful fighter. But if I have to, I’ll be that warrior. I will never quit.”