Two-time IBF Featherweight Champion Robert Guerrero wins Super Featherweight Title
Robert Guerrero is coming off of a dominant title winning effort over South Africa’s Malcolm Klassen. The win makes him a two-division world champion, and one of the top rated super featherweight boxers on the planet. Known as The Ghost, Guerrero was anything but on Saturday night in Houston. He was consistently in Klassen’s face, landing solid combinations and dictating the pace and distance of the action. I got the chance to speak with Robert about his performance and his future plans.
Congrats on the big win…Would you say this was the best performance of your career?
RG: So far, I’d have to say yea. I mean, we had a game plan, I executed it and I did a lot of stuff in there I usually don’t do.
So have the doubters officially been silenced?
RG: Yea, officially I think the doubters have been shushed. But there’s always somebody out there. So you keep on going and stay working hard.
You had a clear game plan in the fight… you would move in with your jab and throw a couple of shots, push him left and move to your right. How did that come about?
RG: Yea, breaking Klassen down, watching his film, we knew if we circled to the right and worked behind the jab, and always stayed first… it gives him a lot of trouble and that’s one of the things watching him fighting right handed fighters. When they did circle to the right, it gave him a lot of trouble. And for left handers to circle to the right it gives a guy even more trouble. So we knew circling him right behind a double, triple jab was gonna give him a lot of trouble.
What did you think of Klassen’s performance? Judging from his words he was underestimating you quite a bit…
RG: I think he was ready for an old Robert Guerrero. The Robert Guerrero that likes to sit in there and exchange punches… and just have a war. I think he was thinking that I was gonna come in like that and that’s what he trained and prepared for. His game plan was to just come in and just bang me out. We had the perfect game plan for him and from my point of view, and the way I was dictating the fight, he didn’t know what to do.
How did the hand injury happen and did you know it as soon as it did?
RG: I hurt it earlier in training and I had to nurse it a little bit. It was feeling good going into the fight, but I never really put any power on it too hard, to really know if it was OK or not. I think it was midway through the fight, I hit him with a, I think it was an uppercut, and I hit him close to the top of the head and I just felt it just like a spring, right away I could feel it. Every time I threw a hard, solid left hand I could feel it a lot. But you know, I kept throwing it and throwing it, and just solid enough to let him know that there was nothing wrong with me and if he came in I was gonna let one go. Part of being in there was having that poker mentality, not letting him know what was going on.
In addition to that you were also dealing with that cut…What were you thinking after the clash of heads and did you think it was intentional at all?
RG: Yea, a lot of times he was just trying to rush in head first and land an overhand right. Most of the time as soon as I would throw a double or triple jab and step off he would come head first and just try to land whatever he could land. To come in darting in with your head first… sometimes it’s intentional.
Were you bothered at all by the cut for the rest of the fight or was it something you weren’t worried about too much, just sticking to the game plan?
RG: I wasn’t worried about the cut at all. I got back to the corner and my corner did a great job being relaxed and not getting crazy. Cut man Ruben Gomez did an excellent job with the cut and it didn’t bother me at all. I was able to stay on my game and maintain focus, and stick with my game plan.
You averaged 100 punches per round in the fight and only seemed to slow down a bit or take a rest, around maybe the 9 th or 10 th round. How much did your training camp in Big Bear help you build up that kind of stamina?
RG: Man, it made a huge difference being out there in Big Bear training. I didn’t even realize I threw that many punches. The rounds that I did slow up, I actually slowed up to stand my ground a little more and blast some body shots in there. Then right away I jumped backed on it, but man, if I would have just stuck on my jab and stayed with what I was doing the whole fight, it would’ve been a lot more punches.
That’s when I was like… wow. Looking back on it on how many punches I threw and how much boxing I did and how much moving I did in the ring… man, it makes a huge difference. Now I know why all champions that have the opportunity to go out there and train, go out there and train.
So I’m guessing that for the next fight you’ll be brining your title belt up to Big Bear for another training camp?
RG: For sure. I’m pretty sure I’m probably going to be out there for the rest of my career during my training.
During the fight you could see Shane Mosley getting pretty animated at points from his ringside seat. What was he saying to you and what did sparring with him mean to you?
RG: A lot of times I know he was shouting at me to keep turning, rip uppercuts and work off that jab. But just sparring with him, being in the ring with him… his ring generalship, and all of the experience he has… Like he told me, “I’ve been boxing longer than since you’ve been born. And I can teach you a thing or two.” And that’s what he did and I learned a lot from Shane, not just in boxing but in how to take care of yourself, and how to make sure everything is right going into a fight.
I learned so much from him being in camp and that’s what you gotta do, you gotta learn every time you get out to a camp. It was nice to be out there with Shane and learning from him, a veteran and pound for pound one of the best lightweights in boxing history. It was an awesome opportunity.
I know your team tried to get a Juan Diaz bout together prior to this fight and sharing the card with him. What did you think of his performance against Malignaggi and is that a fight you’d still like to pursue now if he returns to lightweight?
RG: I would love to fight Juan Diaz, if he dropped down to lightweight or even if I had to go up I would fight him. Honestly, I didn’t get to see the fight, I was in the back getting stitched up. I caught the first couple rounds but after that I didn’t get to see the rest of the fight. I saw him start off aggressive and firing a lot of punches, and moving in quick, slipping and sliding. He looked good on the first couple rounds that I saw, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see the whole fight. I heard it was a real close fight and it was controversial with some of the judging, but I haven’t really gotten to see it.
Obviously you have a lot of healing up and relaxing to do, not to mention celebration I’m sure. Is there any chance we’ll be seeing you in the ring again before 2009 is out?
RG: Right now we are gonna play it by ear. I know they are probably working on something already, but I’m going to go tomorrow to get my hand looked at. And I have to give the cut a little bit of time to heal, and make sure I’m 100% before I get in the ring. But for sure, I’m hoping to get back in the ring before the end of 2009.
This win was your third world title, and a championship in a second division. I know this was a goal of yours since you got back in the ring after your layoff. What’s the next goal?
RG: Looking towards unifying titles at 130 pounds. Even if I could get another fight at 135 with anybody…I’d love to take that. But I think that’s the next thing, to unify titles and I’m excited about that and I’m in the position to do that now.
Is there anybody in particular you’re looking to get in there with… obviously there’s Linares and Soto and a bunch of guys… or is it whoever is around and steps up?
RG: Hopefully I can get in there with Humberto Soto or Jorge Linares.
Congrats again on the win and thanks for the time.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Team Guerrero