Robert Guerrero needed a win badly. He had lost two of his last three fights, both wide decision losses to elite welterweights Floyd Mayweather and Keith Thurman. His only win came against Yoshihiro Kamegai, a B-level fighter at best who managed to drag Guerrero into a deeper end of the pool than The Ghost’s handlers probably wanted.
So Guerrero was matched with Aron Martinez in a 10-round welterweight contest on Saturday. The bout was telecast live on NBC’s Premier Boxing Champions. Martinez is a scrappy fighter who by his own admission would need to rely on conditioning over boxing skill to beat Guerrero. The 32-year-old had lost two of his last three fights, was a light-hitter with only four wins by knockout and had only been in contests scheduled for more than eight rounds three times in his career, losing twice.
But Guerrero found himself in the deep end of the pool again against Martinez. He survived a Round 4 knockdown to swim past Martinez in a hotly contested split-decision. Judges at ringside scored the bout 97-92 and 95-94 for Guerrero, and 95-94 for Martinez. The latter two scores are probably more indicative of the fight. It was close.
Guerrero was surprised early by Martinez’s aggression, and he almost let it hard-charging fighter drowned him with it. “He was coming in head-first,” said Guerrero. “It threw me off a bit.”
Martinez landed solid right-hand counters from a distance in Rounds 1 and 2, and used those successes to bulldoze himself into Guerrero’s chest. He corralled his opponent into the ropes and over to the corner time after time, letting loose a barrage of hooks, uppercuts, crosses—everything he could muster. It worked. By Round 4, Martinez had spilled Guerrero down to the floor like a late night Martini.
But Guerrero rose to his feet, and came back strong. In Round 5, the two continued to fight in close. Guerrero was paying special attention to the body now, while Martinez continued his onslaught of bull-rushes.
In Round 6, Guerrero thought better of things and decided he needed to use his feet to create distance in the fight. He aptly stepped back, threw punches with good torque on them, and made his mark on Martinez’s face and torso without the danger of the previous dogfighting. Guerrero fought smart and brave in the rest of the fight. He used his southpaw jab to keep Martinez from bullying him to the ropes, and threw hard hooks to the body to slow him down more and more as the fight wore on. Martinez only fought brave. He was not able to adjust to Guerrero’s skill from long-range, and he seemed to tire as the fight wore on.
After the fight, Guerrero spoke fondly of a cousin who suddenly died last week, dedicating the fight to her. “Tell God I said hello,” he said with both a swollen eye and a smile.
Guerrero will likely land more PBC dates in the future. At age 32, he appears to be on the downward slope of his career though. He still seems capable of being a scrappy opponent for top-level welterweights, but does not seem likely to win big fights against highly rated contenders.
Still, Guerrero has made a good life for himself. He fought Mayweather in 2013 in the biggest and most lucrative fight of his entire life and pocketed a cool million dollars according to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael for his work on Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson against Martinez.
With the loss, Martinez likely goes back to a life of obscurity, a fighter who will be drummed back up in the future when a promoter intends to get a star-level fighter a win. There’s good in that for him, too. Because the saving grace for Al Haymon’s PBC series has been the fights have the feeling of being better than they are intended to be. Haymon doesn’t seem to have a good matchmaker in the house, so he pits fighters he wants to showcase against fighters everyone at Team Haymon headquarters thinks their fighter can easily beat. But they’re usually wrong. Guerrero won the fight but could have just as easily been handed a career-threatening loss had the judges at ringside seen things a different way.
So Martinez might find himself in a similar position on a PBC card in the near future. Heck, Guerrero might, too.
Other Notable Action
Former quarterback turned heavyweight boxer Dominic Breazeale defeated Yasmany Consuegra by Round 3 knockout to open the NBC telecast. Breazeale’s powerful right-hand was the key to the fight. Consuegra dominated the first round by landing flush shots on Breazeale seemingly at will, but Round 2 was spoiled for him when Breazeale landed a long right-hand at end of it to put Consuegra down to the mat for the first of three travels there.
Consuegra came out firing in Round 3 but was dumped to the canvas by a right uppercut. He rose to his feet but was clearly shaken. Breazeale sent him back to the blue mat shortly thereafter for the third and final time. Consuegra crawled up to his feet, but the referee wisely halted the action there.
Breazeale appears to be a good athlete. He seems smart when he talks and has a nice disposition about him. But he doesn’t seem like a natural fighter. The 2012 Olympian will likely be built up as much as possible until he is forced to fight someone with talent who is a natural fighter. When that happens, unless something drastically changes, he will lose.
The fights continued on NBC Sports network. Featherweight Jesus Cuellar stopped Vic Darchinyan in Round 8. Darchinyan has now lost five of his last eight fights and three of his last four. His last three losses have come by way of knockout. It is probably time for the 39-year-old to retire. Cuellar, age 28, is a solid-looking featherweight but will have a tough time making his mark in such a stalwart division. Current featherweight stars include Gary Russell, Jr., Vasyl Lomachenko and Abner Mares. Future fights with Russell and Mares seem likely and would make for good television no matter what the result.