A new start for Guerrero
Story by Felipe Leon
Photos by Chris Cozzone / Fightwireimages.com
There is nothing more that Robert "Ghost" Guerrero (22-1-1, 15 KOs) would like to do more than to forget the year 2008. His seventh year as a prize fighter got off to a good start, with the second successful defense of his IBF featherweight title—an exciting eighth round knock out over popular Jason Litzau on national television.
The fight came four months after his sensational knockout of tough Martin Honorio—and that was mere days after his wife was diagnosed with leukemia.
"I thought the win over Litzau was a great KO,” says Guerrero. “Even after the fight with Martin Honorio, I was hoping for bigger fights. All I was thinking was to get back in the ring and against bigger name fighters.”
But along with his wife's fight against the life-threatening disease, Guerrero, 25, had to contend with issues with his promoter, Goossen-Tutor, at the time.
“The contract was expiring and they were trying to extend it,” says Guerrero. “I wanted to keep my options open. There were a lot of promoters at the time interested in me and I wanted to find one that would be the best for me because I felt that Goossen wasn’t."
His case against his former promoter and the resulting arbitration took the better part of the year, forcing Guerrero out of the ring. Along the way, the "Ghost" decided to relinquish his IBF featherweight belt that he captured overseas with a ninth round KO of Spend Abazi in his opponent's backyard of Denmark.
But, after those turbulent times, Guerrero found himself with calmer seas by the end of the year when he joined the stable of Golden Boy Promotions.
His first fight under the new banner has been announced for Saturday, Jan. 24, on the undercard of the Margarito-Mosley card. Guerrero will take on the always tough, always ready Edel Ruiz (31-21-4, 22 KOs).
“I am excited to be on the card and to get back in the ring and fight,” he says. “After eleven months of not fighting, I am happy to get back in there so soon after signing with Golden Boy."
The always positive former champion puts an optimistic spin on his year of inactivity:
"I am rested. There has been no punishment to my body and I stayed in shape. I did not let myself get out of hand. I kept my tools sharp like a champ should. I started trying for this fight in the beginning of December. I am ready to go, I knew that I was going to be stuck in arbitration but I took good care of myself, so I am fresh and ready to go in 2009.
“I have closed the chapter on 2008. It’s forgotten. I am strong minded and have a lot of faith and belief in God which helped me. I have a new promoter and I have my first fight on the first big fight card of the year, so I am excited."
Although his opponent for the night of the 24th Edel Ruiz barely holds an over .500 record, Guerrero is not taking him lightly.
"I'm excited to be fighting him. He has been in there with some of the best. I know he comes to fight, he has a lot of experience and he is crafty. These are the fights I want, I don't want taxicab drivers, I want to keep improving."
Ruiz is coming off two KO wins and has stepped in between the ropes against some of the best in the lighter divisions such as Jhonny Gonzalez, Jason Litzau, Juan Manuel Lopez, Joan Guzman and Israel Vazquez.
Since his name has not been mentioned by the boxing press or fans except to ask where he has been, Guerrero understands that he needs to win in a spectacular fashion to get the "Ghost" back in the mix.
"I am coming into the ring like I always do, I am coming to fight. I am not trying to just win or to shake off ring rust but I am coming to take my first step towards a run for a 130 lbs. championship.
“Golden Boy has a lot of faith in me. With my wife being diagnosed with leukemia and in the same week putting an incredible performance against Honorio. I have fought with adversity and I think the proof is in the pudding, going to Denmark with only three weeks notice and winning the title, I think I have shown that there is no folding under pressure."
Not many two time world champions would agree to fight on a non televised fight card even if it was after an eleven month layoff. Several one time world champions only fight every eleven months or so and only if it is televised but the southpaw Guerrero is not conventional in that aspect by any means.
"I want to show that I am one of the top fighters coming up. That I am going to be here for a long time. I want to put a dent in this sport and one of my goals is to be a multi divisional champion so that is the message I am trying to convey by fighting on this under card."
So after a year that the "Ghost" sooner would love to forget, he sees great things for 2009.
"I trust that Golden Boy will be able to get me a title shot sometime this year,” states Guerrero. ”I would play it by ear how many times I would defend it but I do want to go to 135, fight Marquez, fight Pacquiao, I want to fight the best."