Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero closed Thursday’s news conference at HP Pavilion with a joke as he looked toward a flat screen displaying a pixelated Selcuk Aydin, who joined the official announcement of the pair’s July 28 World Boxing Council Interim Welterweight World Championship bout via Skype from Germany.
“A fighter and a computer – I guess you can only get that in the Silicon Valley,” Guerrero quipped to a room of about 50 media members, fans and family.
The Turkish-born Aydin, sporting a homemade “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” T-shirt featuring Guerrero’s picture looked unamused – though his response through his translator was jumbled as were much of his comments during a very herky-jerky video call.
“I’ve waited for this fight for a long time,” Aydin said. “(Guerrero) is of course a good boxer – a southpaw. But I know I can win.”
There will be little laughing, and the objective quite clear come July 28, as Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs) will move up two weight classes (from 135 to 147 pounds) to take on the undefeated Aydin (23-0-0, 17 KOs) in the 12-round main event at HP Pavilion.
“He’s a game guy – he is coming to fight. He is coming to the United States and wants to prove a point,” Guerrero said. “This is his chance for him to come and make a huge statement. You have to be ready for guys like that. They are sleepers and can creep up on you.”
What put the biggest smile on Guerrero’s face, however, during the hour-long news conference occurred when matchmaker and Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez announced what else was at stake for the fighters.
“This fight is going to take place and the winner of this fight is going to become the mandatory for Floyd Mayweather,” Gomez said to a smattering of applause.
Mayweather, who just defeated Miguel Cotto on May 5 for the World Boxing Association super welterweight crown, was not forced to vacate his welterweight belt, which he took from Victor Ortiz last year. Slated to serve an 87-day jail sentence beginning June 1, Mayweather, who has hinted at retirement, will have to make a choice whether to stay at 154-pounds or defend the 147-pound title against the Guerrero-Aydin winner.
“Floyd is going to have a little bit of time to decide,” Gomez said. “But we are going to try and force the fight, obviously, and the winner is going to have to fight Floyd. And that’s when he will make his decision. He’s going to have to decide to fight the winner or not, or if he wants to stay at 154.”
Seemingly in the driver’s seat and speeding toward potentially blockbuster bouts, Guerrero is in a position he has fought his way toward his entire career. But the five-time world champion said Aydin is priority No. 1.
“It’s exciting, but you have to take care of business fight night first,” he said. “It’s there already – the winner is the mandatory. So you don’t have to worry about that. You have to worry about getting the job done, winning the fight and taking care of your business.”
Subplots aside, Guerrero, who hasn’t stepped into the ring since his dismantling of Michael Katsidis on April 9, 2011, said he is 100 percent following rotator cuff surgery in August (The Ghost injured his shoulder preparing for a fight against Marcos Maidana) and looking forward to going after another perceived under-appreciated fighter in Aydin – a known heavy hitter.
“The European fighters, a lot of people underestimate them,” Guerrero said. “You have to be 100-percent prepared, ready to go and focused.”
Aydin has spent the last two years as the No. 1 WBC contender at 147, yet hasn’t received much attention.
“We are going against an undefeated, who has been the mandatory for two years. Mayweather didn’t want to fight him. Ortiz didn’t want to fight him. And I think that says a lot,” Guerrero’s manager Bob Santos said. “So there’s that, in and of itself would be a huge mountain to overcome. Also, consider the fact that we are jumping up from 135 to 147. So it’s going to be some steep climbing, but we feel Robert’s got the boots to handle it.”
Guerrero is expected to leave for training camp at the end of the month. The location of which has yet to be determined, but father and trainer Ruben Guerrero said that decision will be made in the next week or so.
“It’s like this, when he hurt his arm, as soon as the doctor told us he could start hitting the bag, right away I bounced him back in the gym. From then on, he’s been in the gym,” Ruben said. “I’m the guy that keeps him in the gym every day no matter what. It’s his job. It’s what he does. There is nothing missing there. There’s no issue at all. He’ll be ready.”
The fight will be broadcast on Showtime with a delay to the West Coast. And as Gomez put it, “the only way to see it live is to buy tickets.”
Guerrero echoed that selling point to his hometown fans.
“It’s been a year since I’ve been in the ring and I’m hungry,” the Gilroy native said. “A lot of people say hungry like a lion, I’m hungry like a roach. Nothing’s hungrier than a roach. It’s going to be an awesome fight. He’s one of those guys who always tries to knock somebody out and that always makes for an exciting fight.”
• The Ghost’s younger brother Randy Guerrero will make his pro debut in the ring on the undercard.
• Tickets are on sale through ticketmaster.com. Prices start at $26.