Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero earned a hard-fought unanimous decision win over Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai on Saturday night – and has the war wounds to prove it.
Returning to action following a 13-month layoff, Gilroy native and four-division world champ Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KOs) overcame both a cut and swelling on his left eye to pound out the victory in a gritty war of attrition from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
Judge Max DeLuca scored the bout 116-112 in Guerrero’s favor while judges Pat Russell and Tony Crebs both had Guerrero winning 117-111.
SFBay also favored Guerrero 116-112.
Donning his trademark red trunks with white trim, the 31-year-old Guerrero got off to a hot start in Saturday’s Showtime Championship Boxing main event.
For the first four rounds, he landed strong body shots, uppercuts and straight left hands as Kamegai constantly charged forward. Despite the punishment he endured, Kamegai (24-2-1, 21 KOs) succeeded in luring Guerrero into a dogfight.
He had success pinning Guerrero against the ropes and scraping him with punches on the inside. He also began turning things around in a closely-contested fifth round when he snapped Guerrero’s head back with a hard straight right hand.
Kamegai opened up a cut on Guerrero’s left eye from a stinging right uppercut in the sixth and by the end of the seventh, Guerrero’s eye was almost swollen shut.
Though he wasn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with Kamegai, Guerrero said after the fight that he needs to work on not falling into the temptation of a dogfight:
“I wanted to box on the outside, but I have a habit of banging away and exchanging.”
Despite fighting with practically one good eye as the fight progressed, Guerrero regained control in the eighth by knocking Kamegai backwards courtesy of a blistering straight left hand. He also displayed his boxing craft in the ninth by backing Kamegai up with crisp straight lefts to the body.
Aware of Kamegai’s durability as the fight approached the 12th round, Guerrero’s father/trainer, Ruben, sternly urged his son to do one thing if Kamegai wanted to brawl:
“Beat the motherfucker up!”
Guerrero once again came out on fire and hurt Kamegai with another blistering straight left hand just seconds into the round.
The two valiant warriors once again traded leather to the delight of those in attendance at the StubHub Center as Guerrero punctuated the round – and his hold on the fight – with one final left hook.
According to Showtime’s punch track system SHO Stats, Guerrero landed 484 out of 1082 punches thrown (44 percent) compared to 35 percent landed by Kamegai (293 out of 831).
The bout was Guerrero’s first since he earned a career-high $3 million in a lopsided unanimous decision loss to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas last May.
Guerrero has since attempted to break his contract with promoter Golden Boy Promotions through arbitration with the California State Athletic Commission. But the commission denied his request this past January since both parties signed the contract under New York law, not California law.