It took nine hours for Jesse James Guerrero to drive from Gilroy to Tijuana, the site of his third professional boxing match on March 5.
His ring time was all of one minute. Guerrero, a senior at Mount Madonna High, won via knockout just 1 minute, 1 second into his scheduled four-round light flyweight bout to improve to 3-0. Guerrero’s father and grandfather, Ruben Guerrero Sr. and Ruben Guerrero, were in Jesse’s corner and Jesse’s uncle, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, was sitting ringside for the event.
“That was probably one of the happiest moments in my life,” said Jesse, who used a big body shot before landing an uppercut to knock out his opponent. “I’m glad I got this opportunity and I’m looking forward to improving.”
Guerrero made his pro debut in August 2020 and fought again just a couple of months later, both victories. Since his first and third bouts, Guerrero said he’s a drastically different boxer.
“I look back now and am like, ‘Wow, I’ve grown so much,’” he said. “I feel way better about my boxing now than I did back then.”
Jesse is trained mostly by Ruben Sr., but Ruben and Robert also offer valuable coaching and counsel. Once in a while, though, Jesse can smile when all three are in his ear at once.
“It can be stressful at times, but it’s always worth it in the end because they all help me a lot,” Jesse said. “(In the last year) my uncle Robert has stepped in a little more and helped me and changed my style to a more pro style. I feel a lot more comfortable in my stance and my arms are where they need to be. Everything is tucked in tight and not open as it was before. But my main guy is my grandpa because he’s trained all of us and knows what’s going on. My uncle gives me pointers here and there and my dad helps me because he was on an Olympic team and has years of experience, too.”
Jesse entered his latest bout knowing he went in too quick on the attack in his previous two fights. Armed with added confidence and a more refined skillset, Jesse had a sense of calm in the leadup to the opening bell.
“I was more calm and less anxious to throw wild shots,” he said. “Of course I had the nervous butterflies in my stomach, but once I got in there and threw the first punch, that’s when I knew I was OK.”
Like all boxers and wrestlers, Jesse needed to sweat off some pounds to make weight for his bout. He dropped 11 pounds from March 2 to the weigh-ins on March 4. Jesse was no doubt a little bit sluggish but immediately after weigh-ins he chowed down on a double-patty hamburger, milkshake and fries to get his energy levels and calorie count back up. He also took in a lot of additional fluids to aid in his recovery.
“My uncle and grandpa know how to rehydrate and recover and so I felt way better after than before the weigh-ins,” Jesse said. “The food did me good.”
Ruben said Jesse makes weight rather easily and doesn’t have to resort to drastic measures to get there.
“A lot of guys use plastic bags and do all kinds of stuff, but Jesse was running in the gym and sweating it off,” Ruben said. “He minimized how much weight he had to lose, he wasn’t starving or anything like that, and he wasn’t lethargic. He made weight like it was nothing.”
Jesse recently turned 18 and already has his next fight lined up on May 21 in Ensenada, Mexico. If Jesse wins that match, he would probably have one more a couple of months later in Mexico before a probable fight on U.S. soil in December, Ruben said.
“There’s a market out there in Mexico for him, so we’re building that a little bit and then he’ll be known in the states,” said Ruben, whose team works with Najera Boxing Promotions to make the boxing matches in Mexico. “Jesse’s skillset is already there. We’ve got a three-year plan where he will win the world title. He’s in a weight class where there are not a lot of fighters, and he’s big and tall for that weight.”
Jesse doesn’t have the sparkling resume that includes national Golden Gloves or Junior Olympic Championships, but as long as he keeps improving, that won’t matter. Ruben said Jesse is the youngest professional athlete in California, and simply has to stay the course to reach the elite level of boxing.
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]