Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero knows what it takes to stay strong when facing a battle. It is what helped him become a three time world champion, a supportive spouse during the darkest of hours and only the third fighter to win titles in the featherweight and welterweight divisions. Guerrero overcame a number of obstacles to win the interim WBC welterweight championship last night with a unanimous decision victory over the tough Selcuk Aydin at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California thanks to an inspiring level of heart and soul.
The 29-year old Guerrero had been out of the ring for 15-months following surgery to repair a torn tendon in the rotator cuff of his left shoulder. Instead of returning as a lightweight, he opted to jump two weight classes and come back as a welterweight to fight the undefeated Aydin.
It appeared to be a rather aggressive strategy given his absence from the ring and questions surrounding his shoulder. However, Guerrero had gone through far worse when his wife, Casey, battled leukemia five years ago and subsequently endured the process of a bone marrow transplant required to save her life. Guerrero’s strength, courage and will helped his family through the awful ordeal and now it was time for him to display the same qualities as he resumed his career.
In front of his hometown fans, family and Casey’s bone marrow donor from Germany, Guerrero was involved in a grueling battle against the Turkish Aydin. There were very little signs of ring rust early on as Guerrero was relaxed and displayed very good hand speed with his combination punching from the outside. Aydin, a pressure fighter with limited technique, came forward swinging overhand rights and often engaged Guerrero in an inside test of wills.
Guerrero did not shy away from those tests, as he was willing to stand toe-to-toe with the Turk on occasion. This was not the ideal geography for the talented boxer-puncher as he often got hit with short right hands and some nasty uppercuts that twisted his head around. However, Guerrero always fought back, peppering Aydin with three – four punch combinations and outworking him with jabs.
With such a high intensity level and fast pace, it was questionable as to how long Guerrero would be able to sustain his work rate. Activity temporarily slowed down in the middle rounds and Aydin came on stronger as Guerrero started to fade. In the seventh round, a tiring Guerrero began languishing on the inside and slapping his punches while Aydin out muscled him with short rights to the side of the head and body.
The determined Guerrero came out stringing together a nice series of combinations in Round 8 to re-establish himself. He answered every blow that Aydin threw with multiple punches, digging down deep to keep his foot on the gas while breathing hard through his mouth as the championship rounds approached. Although there was nothing on his punches in terms of power, they were loaded with heart and soul as he continued to stay active.
By Round 10, Guerrero did not have the energy to maintain distance from Aydin and began holding. This led to a number of shots behind the head as Aydin wanted to keep the momentum going. However, it was a right to the body midway through the round that caused Guerrero to stumble backwards and Aydin began knocking his tired opponent around the ring with the right hand. It was the first round where Aydin was more active than Guerrero, landing 23 of 38 power shots according to ShoStats.
However, Guerrero continued to dig deep, finding the strength to put together a four punch combination at the end of the eleventh round after eating another right hand. Both fighters let it all go right down to the final bell, with arms flailing from all angles in an attempt to make one final statement.
Guerrero made quite the statement with a unanimous decision victory of 117-111, 116-112, 116-112. He is right back in the thick of things and now within a better quality welterweight division where he should get the fights he has been wanting and deserves. He improves to 30-1-1 (18 KO’s).
“I’m looking for the best fights,” Guerrero said. “It’s just about getting these guys in the ring. I’m the mandatory to Floyd [Mayweather] now. Let’s make it happen.”
A disappointed Aydin (23-1, 17 KO’s) now finds himself on the outside looking in after having been the WBC mandatory challenger since 2009 but unable to get fights with former champions Andre Berto or Victor Ortiz. Through an interpreter, Aydin told Showtime’s Steve Farhood after the fight that ‘the system of boxing beat him’. Although it will be a difficult road for him to reach this level again, Aydin’s performance should gain him some future exposure in the U.S. which would help to re-build his presence.
After the fight, Guerrero encouraged viewers to bring hope to people’s lives by becoming organ donors. The heart and soul that Guerrero possessed last night brought hope back into his career and has given fans another reason to root for him.
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