Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero didn’t come out of retirement three years ago simply to be competitive. The 38-year-old southpaw returned to the fight game to compete for a championship belt.
A win against Victor Ortiz in a 10-round welterweight boxing match on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas would go a long way in the Gilroy native reaching his goal. The Guerrero-Ortiz bout is the co-feature match on the Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas welterweight championship fight card.
“This fight is the co-main event so we’re right there at the threshold where my next fight could possibly be for the world championship,” Guerrero said by phone in Las Vegas. “To be the co-main feature on a Manny Pacquiao-Errol Spence Jr. card means you’re right there. They don’t put anybody on pay per view events. We’re right there within a fight or two of fighting for a championship belt.”
Pacquiao was originally scheduled to fight Spence Jr., but the latter was diagnosed with a torn retina in his left eye in a pre-medical examination and had to withdraw from the match. Ugas was set to fight Fabian Maidana on the same card only to see Maidana withdraw with an eye injury as well.
Suddenly, it was Ugas who would be getting a shot of a lifetime against the only eight division world champion in boxing history in Pacquiao. Guerrero is looking to win his fourth fight in as many tries since coming out of retirement in late 2018.
He last fought in September 2019, producing a unanimous decision victory over Gerald Thomas. He was planning to fight in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed that timeline. Born and raised in Gilroy but now splitting his time between San Juan Bautista and Las Vegas, the 38-year-old Guerrero (36-6-1, 20 KOs) is a former world champion at featherweight and super featherweight in a pro career that has spanned 20 years, an incredible feat of durability.
The 34-year-old Ortiz (32-6-3, 25 KOs) is a former 147-pound champion but hasn’t fought since February 2018. Seven to eight years ago, a Guerrero-Ortiz pairing could’ve headlined a pay per view card. While both boxers are past their prime, they still have name recognition, a big reason why their match is considered the co-feature of the Pacquiao-Yordenis fight card.
The Ghost said he’s as prepared as he’s ever been for a fight.
“We’ve put in the training and game plan together, and from there it’s all about using my experience,” he said.
Even though Ortiz hasn’t fought in more than three years, Guerrero said watching film remains paramount.
“I have definitely watched film of him because fighters are creatures of habit,” Guerrero said. “When you look at your style, you see what they’ve got and start breaking them down.”
This will be another special moment for Guerrero and his dad/trainer Ruben, who also has another one of his fighters in Saturday’s event in Oscar Escandon. The 37-year-old Escandon (26-5, 18 KOs) takes on Carlos Castro in a featherweight bout.
This marks the first time Ruben has had two of his boxers fight on the same card. Additionally, another one of Guerrero’s boxers, Justin Cardona, will be fighting on Aug. 5 in Minneapolis.
“Man, I’m busy like crazy,” Ruben said. “A lot of good things for the Mad Dog with all three of my boys (in upcoming action). All of my boys are doing great and will do whatever it takes to win and move on to bigger and better things.”
Robert Guerrero said he’s been taking a holistic approach to his boxing repertoire, focusing on inside/outside work, his lateral movement, jab, and pretty much every facet of the sweet science.
For Saturday’s fight, Guerrero set up training camp in Las Vegas. He’s got a gym at each of his homes in Las Vegas and San Juan Bautista, and he can also train at Pound4Pound Fitness in downtown Gilroy, which is owned by the family. Even with the long fight layoff due to Covid, Guerrero kept in shape and never wavered in his belief that he could set himself up for another path to a world title fight.
On Saturday, he looks to take another step forward in reaching the summit.
Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]