Ruben Guerrero describes his son Jesse James Guerrero as humble and an old soul.
Those are quality traits to have in general, but even more so for an 18-year-old who aspires to become a world boxing champion.
“Jesse is developing into a man and is very mature for his age,” said Ruben, who helps train his son with Jesse’s grandfather Ruben Guerrero Sr. “Jesse has got a good boxing IQ for his age and that will take him far. He’s all about his craft, and he says this is my job. So we make things work around his schedule so he can train.”
Jesse was dominant in his latest boxing match at 112 pounds, a first-round knockout of Rigoberto Alejandro in Rosarito, Mexico on July 23. The victory improved Jesse’s record to a perfect 5-0, and he already has his next fight scheduled in Tijuana in October.
Jesse unleashed a barrage of punches in scoring the knockout, utilizing his jab to set up a hook and overhand right before the referee stopped the bout just 57 seconds in.
“I was kind of surprised I got the win that fast,” Jesse said. “I was kind of hoping the fight had gone a little bit longer, but I was happy with the win because anything can happen. I’m glad I got in and out of there.”
Ruben was also happy Jesse got a quick victory because of what could happen in these four-round fights.
“You can get cut, head-butted, elbowed, and all of a sudden the fight stops and you can’t continue and it goes to the judges’ scorecards,” Ruben said. “You can’t leave it to the judges. So our strategy is to bring the pressure, go in and dominate. We go in there and pull the gun, and Jesse caught him with a good shot and finished him.”
Ruben said he was proud of Jesse for being unmoved when Alejandro tried to get in his head before the bout started.
“The guy was in his mid-30s and he came in and tried to spook my son,” Ruben said. “He did a little mind game as if to say, ‘You’re the kid and I’m the man.’ But Jesse knows no one is meaner than his grandfather, his dad and his uncles.”
Jesse usually spars with boxers who are 10-15 pounds heavier than him, so when he fights a fellow bantamweight, he’ll have the power advantage. He works a lot on conditioning which will prove paramount because if things go to plan, Jesse will be boxing six-round fights by this time next year.
All of Jesse’s bouts have been in Mexico for strategic reasons. Since Jesse didn’t go the traditional amateur route and turned pro early, his team knows he has to gradually build up his resume and level of competition before signing up to face another up-and-coming boxer.
“Jesse didn’t have a big amateur career so we have to play our cards right,” Ruben said. “We have to go out there and test the waters and so far he’s proving it and holding his own.”
Jesse plans on attending his freshman year at Gavilan College while juggling his boxing career, though after the October fight, the plan is for him to get a well earned break for the rest of the year. He’s fought five times since turning pro two years ago, but he hasn’t taken much punishment.
“I feel like I still have a lot of energy after my fights,” Jesse said. “This was probably the most fun I’ve had in my five fights. More of my family members and friends were out there, so I had more support this time. Afterward, they were all happy that I was able to beat a much older fighter who had more experience. It was a good win.”
Ruben said he’s been overwhelmed with the community support, as several local businesses in Gilroy and Salinas sponsor Jesse including Straw Hat Pizza, Tavern Bar and Grill, Tavares Transport, EF&S Concrete and Pacific Coast Recycling.
“It makes you feel proud that so many people around here are supporting and rooting for Jesse,” Ruben said. “They want to see him get to the top.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]