Boxing

Sharkie's Machine : A Toast to 'The Ghost'

03.04.05 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: Friday night at "The Palace" in Lemoore California, Gilroy California native, Roberto Guerrero displayed his wares in front of an adoring crowd as he defended his NABF Featherweight Title. Many times, when Prospects gets a lot of positive press, they don't usually live up to the hype. Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero, now 15-0-1-8 KO's absolutely lived up to his press by the time I finally got to see him fight. After hearing so much about this young, Featherweight Prospect (with the aggressive emailing publicity machine behind him) I was impressed with what I saw.

The bout was televised on ShoBox, Showtime's best quality boxing program, which features young fighters in good match ups (most times) and has a professional caliber announce team in Steve Farhood and Nick Charles.

"The Ghost" defended his Title against Adrian Valdez (16-3-3-8 KO's), who is not the typical, 'made to order chump' so commonly fed to Prospects, but a quality fighter at the crossroads of his young career.. I saw him face undefeated, fellow Prospect Bernard Dunne (13-0). In that fight, Valdez gave a good account of himself, out boxed Dunne and landing the more telling blows in the bout. But Dunne was the benefactor of a crooked decision that night.

After fighting Dunne, whom I thought Valdez beat; he took on a couple of lousy fighters (to rebuild his confidence and keep his record shinny) and beat them both by TKO 1 and TKO 3.

The 24-year-old Adrian Valdez has respectable skills and is a scrappy fighter with plenty of heart. He had to be hungry to win this fight because with sixteen wins and three losses, he's a couple of L's away from being relegated to "stepping stone" type status, where the paydays are small and the glory almost non-existent. Those are grounds for serious motivation.

So, if Guerrero were to make easy work of Valdez, he could be as good as he's being promoted to be.

Valdez measured up at five-feet and eight inches, tall for a Featherweight. But he was the smaller man against Guerrero, who at five-feet, nine and a half inches, looked bigger and stronger, even if he did weigh in 'officially' at 125 and a half pounds. Either way, these guys are tall for Featherweights.

Guerrero looked mean as a hungry Pitt Bull when they touched gloves to start the first round, where a lot of posturing and feeling out took place. Guerrero was always the aggressor and Valdez accepted the role of counter puncher, where he had small success. Neither did all that much in the first round, so I called it even.

From the second round on, Guerrero won every round with cleaner, more effective punching and control of the action. Guerrero, a southpaw, pressed and popped his right jab and followed with occasional combinations or crosses. With his tall frame, he employs a wide stance that enables him to bob and weave remarkably well. Valdez scored here and there with counter punches but spent more time protecting himself from Guerrero's effective pressure.

In almost every exchange, Guerrero got the better punches off. Whenever Valdez did score with a good shot, Guerrero took it in stride. "The Ghost" always remained 'cool'-like Joe Montana in boxing gloves. Though Guerrero rarely went to the body, I was impressed with his ring generalship, poise and aggressive attitude.

This kid has quality boxing skills. He works his offense off the jab and he jabs frequently. He moves well, slugs well on the inside and boxes effectively from the outside. He has an icy demeanor in the ring that keeps him focused. Against Valdez, he set the pace and controlled the tempo the whole fight. When he did get hit, he never over reacted but instead, calmly reset his offense and retook control immediately. I do wonder how he'd respond under adverse conditions. We'll find out in a few years I suppose.

There were some things I did not like that may not have anything to actually do with Guerrero the fighter but "The Ghost" as the property of his handlers, who have obvious clout. (Shelley Finkel manages him.) Guerrero got away with a few low blows and twice hit his opponent when he was down (from two separate slips). An impartial referee probably would have disqualified him after doing that a second time. Roy Jones Jr. would have been pissed watching him get away with that.

As for the low blows, at one point in the eighth round, Guerrero landed a low punch while Valdez was against the ropes. Valdez retaliated with a solid low blow of his own. No point was taken even though Valdez' punch looked very deliberate. It would have created too much noticeable controversy since the ref took no points nor warned Guerrero for any of his own infractions.

When it looked like Valdez was going to 'go the distance,' the referee took the initiative and at a troublesome moment, when Valdez was receiving a flurry of punches against the ropes, Sammon stopped the fight-in the final minute of the 12th round rendering Guerrero the winner by Technical KO. That was unnecessary; Guerrero already had the fight in the bag.

That was terribly unfair to Valdez, who lost the fight but fought bravely and didn't deserve such an exaggerated ending for such a courageous effort.

Though Valdez didn't complain much, it smelled like a favoritism call for Guerrero to be credited with a Knockout in a fight he clearly won-by Unanimous Decision. I DOUBT Valdez was on the verge of being KO'd. He was just getting his ass whooped against the ropes. Something he'd demonstrated he could take throughout the fight.

On Guerrero's record, there is a lone Draw that he acquired when he fought Julian Rodriguez, who had lost his last five fights and had a record of 13-9 coming into the ring in March of 2004. Guerrero hit him during a break in the ninth round and Rodriguez was unable to continue. It was ruled a Technical Draw.

Having only seeing Guerrero fight once, it would be a bit unfair to say that dirty tricks are part of his arsenal. But I did get that impression Friday night. He really doesn't need dirty tactics to win though; his tenacious style of fighting is quite enough to get the job done.

But aside from that, I think Robert Guerrero is going to be a Star very soon. With the 'subtly noticeable' help he got from the referee, you can tell that powerful people are banking on his future. He is a very entertaining fighter to watch and has a style that utilizes his physical
attributes perfectly. He showed a good chin when he got hit and showed good stamina, pressing from the start of the first round to the end of the twelfth. And this was the first time Guerrero went past eight rounds.

At only 22 years old, Guerrero's about two or three fights away from winning a major title. Considering his height for his youth, moving up a weight class or two seems inevitable along the way. With his strong ring presence, and collection of positive attributes, he's only going to get better. "The Ghost" has the potential to be the next 'Golden Boy' in Boxing and I can't wait to see him fight again!

* * *

Agree or disagree? Comments can be emailed to dshark87@hotmail.com

Article posted on 03.04.2005



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