The knockout punch was spectacular to say the least. A perfectly landed uppercut to the midriff of the hard edged Gamaliel Diaz, of Mexico City, took the wind out of his sails and dropped him in grimacing pain. It was a legitimate one punch knockout to the body. A Sports Center hi-lite moment. “I wanted to knock out Diaz and make the statement that the first fight was a fluke,” said Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (18-1, 11KO’s) who avenged his loss to Diaz with resounding thunder in the sixth round.
Anyone who had lost faith after Guerrero lost his first encounter against Diaz by decision had now been re-converted.
But the first loss was no fluke my friend. Diaz is as hard as Tijuana asphalt and a proven warrior who plied his trade in the Mexican rings against opponents chosen to put him through fistic hell in front of arguably the most demanding fans in boxing. I got a chance to see Diaz as part of Guilty Promotion’s fight night at their Las Pulgas venue in Tijuana and was immediately impressed by Diaz’s pressure tactics and overall toughness. He beat another hungry fighter in Gerardo Zayas that night by close decision. You have to be more than 100 percent ready for someone like Diaz and “The Ghost” wasn’t.
Guerrero made two mistakes. The first one is a common one for young prospects. Guerrero believed his own hype which was boiling over as writers like me anointed him boxing’s next Golden Boy. “Oh yeah! I was reading way too much about myself. There was talk of a world title shot and I was focusing on that and not on Diaz. It’s like that old saying goes. Don’t read your own clippings,” admits Guerrero. He also made the mistake of underestimating his opponent. “Platano” Diaz was nineteen and five with nine knockouts. It didn’t seem like a step up after having easily dispatched former world champion Enrique Sanchez and former contender Cesar Figueroa.
But records don’t always tell the whole story.
They don’t say anything about your opponents will and their current state of mind. “He came to fight that’s for sure. He’s a rough and tough guy. I learned a lot that night. I definitely learned not to underestimate anyone regardless of their record.” Guerrero paid for that mistake with his undefeated status. “That first loss hurt but it made me think a lot. I wanted the rematch so bad afterwards. I knew I should’ve beaten him. It was a close fight that could’ve gone either way,” remembers Guerrero.
Although the loss to Diaz could’ve easily wreaked havoc on Guerrero’s mind, it’s his deep faith that helped him get through. “There have been a lot of fighters that lose one fight and they fall off the face of the earth. It’s something you hear about all the time. I believe that my faith in Jesus Christ is what got me through the rough time,” says Guerrero. With “The Ghost” being so faith driven and religious, I couldn’t help but ask how someone can be part of a sport where the purpose is to beat your opponent into violent submission and also be a peace loving Christian. Guerrero rationalizes it in his own way. “God’s blessed people with different talents. And god blessed me with boxing skills and gave me boxing as a platform to talk about him. When somebody is in a brutal sport where your life’s on the line all the time and you win and give all the glory to God that’s amazing and it affects a lot of people,” said Guerrero.
There were also much talked about problems between his promoter Dan Goossen and his manager Shelly Finkel that undoubtedly threw off his focus before the first Diaz fight. “It’s true there were definitely issues but I don’t want to make excuses. That’s all over with. I avenged my loss and that gives me great satisfaction,” said Guerrero. It also gave him the right to fight for the IBF featherweight belt on September second against Erik “Mighty Mouse” Aiken (16-4, 12 KO’s) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I’ve seen a couple of Aiken’s fights. He’s a big puncher. He’s a tall featherweight at five foot nine and by no means an easy opponent,” says Guerrero. The title shot came sooner than expected but Guerrero feels ready for what he sees is a fight that will fulfill his destiny. “I wasn’t expecting a title shot until the end of the year so when I heard about this I was incredibly happy. This is what I’ve been working for and visualizing all my life,” stated Guerrero.
Guerrero has lofty dreams that he hopes will materialize in the next couple of years. “God willing, I’ll be in the mix against all the big names like the Barreras, the Pacquiaos, the Rocky Juarezes and the Erik Moraleses. I want to be part of the elite mix. That’s one of my main goals. I’m more motivated than ever to achieve everything I set forth to do. That’s why I prepare so hard. That’s why I get up at five in the morning to go on my run. Boxing is the type of sport where anyone can lose at any time. Knowing that is what keeps me motivated,” said Guerrero.
For “The Ghost,” getting in the ring is more than just a job. What he experiences before the bell rings seems addictive in quality. “I get excited. It’s an adrenaline rush. I can’t wait to get inside the ring and dig those knuckles in. I like to go in there and let ‘em fly – especially when I see my fans from the Bay area and Gilroy. They show me a lot of love and support. Everybody’s excited for this fight and they can’t wait until I finally bring the world title to Gilroy.”
Guerrero plans to bust out big on September second. “I can’t wait to showcase my talents to the world. This is huge. This is Showtime. It’s at a level I’ve never been to and I’m ready to break ground. This is my coming out party,” he finishes.
Check out Guerrero vs. Aiken on Showtime on September second as the co-feature to James Toney vs. Sam Peter. The bouts will be broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
For more info go to www.sho.com/boxing