Eric Aiken/Robert Guerrero IBF Featherweight Bout On Undercard Of Toney/Peter

01.09.06 - By Jacqui Snow: Newly crowned IBF Featherweight champion Eric "Mighty Mouse" Aiken (16-4, 12 KO's) will defend his title on September 2nd against Robert "Ghost" Guerrero (18-1-1, 11 KO's). The action takes place on the undercard of the WBC Heavyweight elimination bout between James Toney and Samuel Peter and will be shown live on Showtime Championship Boxing. It will be Aiken's seventh fight in less than a year and the third in a row where the odds are considered to be in favor of his opponent..

IBF Bantamweight champ and U.S. Olympian Tim Austin was hugely favored over Aiken when the two fought it out in April 2006. Austin had won the IBF title in 1997 with an eighth round TKO over South African Mbulelo Botile, despite suffering a broken jaw in the first round. He'd since made nine successful title defenses, but a subsequent 31-month layoff and the resulting ring rust cost Austin his crown in February 2003 when he met his nemesis in the form of the talented Rafael Marquez.

After two more years of inactivity, Austin restarted his career in September, 2005 by winning two in a row. Eric Aiken was supposed to be a third tune-up fight for former champ Austin, who'd fought on the much higher level of competition—in fact, at that time, Aiken's opposition held a combined 110-134-8 record. But Aiken shocked his opponent by taking control of the action from the opening bell and had already inflicted damage on him by the end of the first round. Aiken continued to land at will and rocked Austin in the fourth and fifth. Austin tasted the canvas in the sixth and managed to beat the count, but Aiken immediately fired off a series of power punches and combinations, causing the referee to stop the fight.

Less than a month later, in May, 2006, Eric Aiken found himself cast in the role of underdog for the second time when he fought IBF Featherweight champ Valdemir Pereira for his title on a mere nine days' notice as a last-minute replacement for Esham Pickering, Once again, Aiken dominated the fight from the start and was able to drop Pereira twice with his left hook—first to the chin in the fourth and then to the body in the fifth. A visibly frustrated Pereira resorted to a series of low blows throughout the fight, the first of which caused referee Charles Dwyer to issue a warning in the second round. Pereira landed two more in the sixth and seventh, both of which resulted in point deductions. When Pereira landed yet another low blow in the eighth, he was disqualified and his belt was awarded to an ecstatic Aiken.

23 year old Robert Guerrero had been undefeated in his five year career when he faced Gamliel Diaz for the NABF Featherweight title in December 2005. At first Guerrero tried to use his superior boxing skills to control the action, but Diaz's slick footwork and accurate jab gave him problems. In the fourth round, Diaz battered Guerrero with a series of left hooks to the head and then inflicted further damage with body shots in the fifth. Guerrero did manage a left which set Diaz wobbling in the seventh with a few seconds remaining, but he managed to stay on his feet until bell sounded.

Diaz continued with a volley of hard shots and an accidental head butt in the ninth added to his opponent's woes. By round's end, both Guerrero's eyes were bruised. Guerrero displayed heart by rallying in the later rounds, but not enough to salvage a victory. Despite copping a 12th-round point deduction for landing a rabbit punch to the back of Guerrero's head, which was turned at the time, Diaz handed Guerrero his first loss in a close split decision.

Six months later, in the first rematch in the five-year history of ShoBox, Guerrero avenged that loss in spectacular fashion.  From the start it was clear that he wanted to brawl and was going into a war, not a boxing match, with Diaz. This could have been a tactical error against a fighter who'd never been dropped, but it worked well for Guerrero—so well, in fact, that the bout almost ended in the first round when he twice floored Diaz with hard left hooks to the body. Diaz survived through another four close rounds until the sixth, when Guerrero's thundering uppercut to the solar plexus made him spit out his mouthpiece and left him doubled over in pain for a full two
minutes after being counted out.

At a rangy 5' 10", Guerrero is exceptionally tall for a featherweight, which has given him a considerable height advantage in most of his bouts. Gamliel Diaz was an exception and so, now, is 26 year old Eric Aiken.  Both of them are only an inch shorter than Guerrero.

The 23 year old Guerrero has gone on record saying that if he gets past Aiken, he plans to unify the featherweight championship within a year by beating WBC and WBA titleholders, Mexico's Rodolfo Lopez and Indonesia's Chris John, respectively.  That remains to be seen, as neither is likely to yield his crown without a fight, which should prove well worth watching..

Article posted on 01.09.2006

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