Robert Guerrero vs. Yoshihiro Kamegai: Preview, Prediction for Welterweight Bout

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2014

Robert Guerrero vs. Yoshihiro Kamegai: Preview, Prediction for Welterweight Bout

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Robert Guerrero hasn’t been seen since losing a clinical decision to Floyd Mayweather last May, but he’ll make his return to the ring this coming Saturday night, taking on little-known Yoshihiro Kamegai at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

    Guerrero is a multiple-time world champion in various weight classes, but he’s had a long layoff that was largely the result of promotional issues. He still has the name and talent to be a factor at 147 pounds, but this is probably a must-win fight.

    Kamegai isn’t well-known, and he seems like the prototypical opponent you’d see for a fighter making a comeback. He’s fought in the United States before, but he doesn’t hold a victory over an opponent of any note.

    Will Guerrero make a triumphant return on Saturday night? Or will Kamegai score the upset?

    Read on for your complete preview and prediction of Saturday’s main event.

Tale of the Tape

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    Jeff Bottari /Getty Images

    All stats and information per BoxRec.com.

     Robert GuerreroYoshihiro Kamegai
    Record31-2-1, 18 KO24-1-1, 21 KO
    Age3131
    Height5'8"5'9.5"
    Weight147 lbs (last fight)146.75 lbs (last fight)
    Reach70"Not Listed
    StanceSouthpawOrthodox
    HometownGilroy, CaliforniaSapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
    Rounds Boxed225137
    Last FightL UD 12 Floyd Mayweather (5/4/13)KO 4 Jung-Hoon Yang (4/5/14)

Main Storylines

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    Guerrero is a former world champion in multiple weight classes. He talked a good game coming into his challenge of Mayweather, but like so many before him, found out saying you can beat Mayweather and actually doing it are two different things.

    He hasn’t been back in the ring since, fighting instead in a courtroom against his promoters, Golden Boy Promotions. Guerrero sought and was denied arbitration to break his promotional contract in January, and this will be his first fight since.

    Guerrero is still a solid fighter with good name recognition. He’s overcome a ton of adversity in his life outside the ring—he vacated his junior lightweight title in 2010 to be with his wife, who was battling leukemia—and needs this win to get his career back on the rails.

    Kamegai is essentially being brought in as an opponent for this fight, but he has a big opportunity should he find a way to score the upset.

    He has a nice record—with only one defeat and one draw—but he hasn’t really beaten any fighters who would make you think he has a chance in this fight.

    Kamegai is no stranger to America, but he can make a big name for himself by upsetting Guerrero in what's essentially his backyard. And given all the upsets we’ve seen lately, would it surprise anyone at this point?

Strengths

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Guerrero is one of those fighters who can do a little bit of everything, and he does it all well but nothing in particular great.

    He has good speed and power, and he mixes his attack up to avoid falling into patterns and being someone easy to game-plan against. In his most recent victory, a unanimous decision over former champion Andre Berto, The Ghost flipped the script, attacking Berto on the inside rather than boxing outside like many expected.

    Guerrero is smart, adaptable and an extremely physical fighter. All that combines to make him difficult to handle for all but the elite fighters in the sport.

    Kamegai has some pretty significant punching power. That’s clearly his biggest asset, and one would think that it’s also his best chance of scoring an upset.

    It’s hard to tell—mostly due to a lack of top-quality opposition—how much of his power is legitimate and how much is a function of facing less-than-stellar opponents. But there’s no denying that his punches are heavy when they connect clean.

    Kamegai puts his punches together well, and he’s been the more active of the two fighters, which could give him an advantage if Guerrero is rusty.

Weaknesses

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    Guerrero has been through it all, both inside and outside the ring. He had to work extremely hard to get the opportunity of a lifetime against Mayweather, and it’s difficult to tell what mental toll that defeat will have on him.

    It’s been over a year since that fight, and we haven’t seen The Ghost in the ring since. That leaves a gigantic question mark hovering over this affair.

    Guerrero’s inactivity and the mental stress of working so hard to get to the pinnacle, only to get knocked right back down the mountain, could leave him vulnerable.

    Kamegai hasn’t proven that he belongs at this level. In his two biggest fights—against Johan Perez and Jorge Silva—he lost a wide decision to Perez and got a draw with the crude Silva.

    None of that bodes well for his chances against a fighter who is clearly better than both.

    Kamegai was outclassed against Perez, ironically also at the StubHub Center, and if Guerrero isn’t diminished, it’s hard to see how he gets this scalp.

Robert Guerrero Will Win If...

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Guerrero should win this fight so long as he isn’t a shell of himself after a prolonged layoff, legal issues with his promoter and the mental strain of a huge defeat.

    That’s a lot of brass to sling over your shoulder as a fighter and put behind you, but Guerrero has been a fighter his entire life, and his family has overcome far worse.

    Guerrero has different avenues of attack in this fight. He can box Kamegai from the outside, picking him off and staying away from his power. Or he can attack in the way he did against Berto, roughing his foe up on the inside, frustrating him and forcing him into mistakes.

    The diversity of options and his overall better skill set and pedigree make Guerrero a heavy favorite to win this comeback fight.

    And that’s what he’ll do—so long as he hasn’t lost it.

Yoshihiro Kamegai Will Win If...

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Kamegai is known as a pretty decent power puncher, and his best chance of winning this fight would seem to be getting inside and cracking Guerrero early before he settles into a rhythm.

    Guerrero has been out of the ring for an extended period of time, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he has some ring rust to shake off in the early rounds.

    This bout is also lower profile than his last several fights, and a letdown isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility—doubtful, yes, but possible.

    Kamegai needs to jump on Guerrero from the outset, not allowing him to get comfortable, and land some of his big power shots in order to have a chance.

    Once Guerrero shakes off the rust and gets his legs back under him, his skill set will be too much to overcome. That’s why for the underdog in this fight, it’s likely early or nothing.

And the Winner Will Be...

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Guerrero is a level or two above Kamegai in terms of his talent and skills, and he should win this fight convincingly. The only thing that could really undo him is if he has underestimated his foe or isn’t the same fighter post-Mayweather.

    Underestimating a foe is not something you’d expect from Guerrero. The guy is a professional, and he’s overcome crises in his personal life that make anything that happens in the ring seem trifling.

    The Ghost will take a round or two to get himself fully back into a rhythm. When he does, he’ll box from the outside, and when things get close, he won’t be afraid to get physical with Kamegai.

    Guerrero’s diversity of fighting styles gives him a huge advantage, and he can change things up in a way that Kamegai can’t.

    This is a make-or-break moment for the former world champion. A loss here would be devastating, and it could signal his end near the top level of the sport.

    He knows that better than anyone, and he’ll come in prepared and win a clear decision.

    Prediction: Guerrero UD 12 Kamegai (118-110)