Robert Guerrero puts full focus on boxing
An out-of-town training camp is a time-honored tradition for most elite boxers. Isolation and focus have been considered keys to ring success for more than a century.
Robert Guerrero is a two-division champion with a sparkling pedigree and a bright future, yet he had never really gone away to a full-fledged training camp until this year.
''This is the first time I've actually been able to focus just on boxing,'' Guerrero said.
Up until the past few months, Guerrero's ring career has been secondary to bigger concerns back home in Gilroy, Calif.
Guerrero's wife, Casey, battled leukemia for the past several years. Guerrero had to help out with their children while training, sometimes missing meals and workouts while sleeping on the floor at Stanford Hospital.
Casey has been cancer-free for the last year, and Guerrero's life is approaching normal. After a full-fledged training camp in Las Vegas, it's time to see what the Bay Area champion can do when boxing has his full attention.
Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) could win a title in a third weight class when he meets Michael Katsidis for two interim lightweight belts at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on Saturday night, co-headlining a pay-per-view card alongside Erik Morales' meeting with Marcos Maidana.
''The main, No. 1 thing with my case is being 100 percent focused,'' Guerrero said. ''I'm always in great shape. Just coming out to a training camp and staying secluded and doing what I have to do to prepare for a fight, it is just going to make me that much a better fighter.''
Guerrero already won the boxing world's respect for his staunch support of Casey, who fell ill nearly four years ago during her husband's ascent.
He kept fighting through her treatments, along with a nearly yearlong squabble with his promoters. Guerrero is making up for lost time with Katsidis, taking on the Australian brawler in his fourth fight in less than a year.
Guerrero is 12-0 since December 2005, albeit with two blemishes - the first when a decision loss to Orlando Salido was overturned on a positive steroids test, and the second when Guerrero couldn't continue against Daud Yordan with a cut over his eye, leading to a no-contest.
Guerrero compiled that record with one foot constantly outside the ring, not knowing if his high school sweetheart would get better or worse. With peace of mind back home, he was able to sequester himself in Las Vegas with no worries.
''It was long overdue,'' he said. ''I needed to get out to a training camp. Unfortunately, the situation I was in with my wife didn't let me. I'm excited. She's excited. She knows I love training and I love fighting.''
He'll get a fight Saturday night. Katsidis (27-3, 22 KOs) is a nightmare matchup for any lightweight, given his ferocious fighting style and apparent lack of concern for his health.
Katsidis can relate to Guerrero's struggle, and the fearless puncher finds symmetry in their matchup. Katsidis was stopped by Juan Manuel Marquez last November after training through his own pain after the death of his brother.
''You just have to dig deep,'' Katsidis said. ''I have a belief that if something doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger. This is one of those things. If we can work through that camp, as we did for the Marquez one, it's been a hell of a lot better working for this camp. I can sleep well at night. There is no problem.''
If Guerrero is successful against Katsidis, he'll have multiple choices for his next opponent. Guerrero already knows he can fight at 140 pounds after trouncing Joel Casamayor at the weight last July, and the lightweight division also contains several lively matchups.
And there's always the looming possibility of attracting Marquez if the Mexican champion stays with Golden Boy Promotions. Guerrero is Marquez's mandatory challenger for one of his lightweight belts, but Marquez appears to be more interested in chasing a third fight with Manny Pacquiao or moving up to 140 pounds to fight Zab Judah.
Yet Guerrero realizes he can't look past Katsidis, even with such a bright future.
''It's going to be a fans' fight where they're going to get a lot of excitement and a lot of punching,'' Guerrero said. ''I'm excited about this fight because it's going to show the world what kind of fighter I am.''