Ranking the Best Options for Robert Guerrero's Next Fight
Welterweight fans can once again believe in ghosts.
Absent for 13 months following a one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., former two-division champ Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero returned to the 147-pound fold Saturday night with a brutally unanimous decision over anonymous Japanese contender Yoshihiro Kamegai atop a three-bout Showtime card in Carson, California.
The win boosted the 31-year-old’s career mark to 32-2-1, was his third win in four fights as a welterweight and put him squarely back on the map in one of boxing’s most talent-rich divisions.
“It was a rough one. I like to give the fans what they want,” Guerrero told Showtime's Jim Gray after the fight. "There are a lot of fights out there. A lot of big ones out there."
Of course, it wasn’t all rest and relaxation for Guerrero during his away-from-the-ring respite.
He was embroiled in a dispute with Golden Boy Promotions—which put together Saturday’s card—over an extension to the five-year deal he signed with the company in 2008. The pact was scheduled to end at the close of 2013, but it was extended as a prerequisite for getting the Mayweather fight last May.
Guerrero was denied arbitration by the California State Athletic Commission earlier this year because the extension was signed in New York, and more intrigue arrived when the fighter signed with advisor Al Haymon, whose stable includes many of the 147-pounders with whom Guerrero’s path might cross.
The relationship between the Haymon fighters and Golden Boy is also a question, thanks to the recent defection from the company of CEO Richard Schaefer, who’s seen as a Haymon ally.
With all that said, Guerrero plans to return later this year, and our list here includes five potential foes who could make some sense when that autumnal encore indeed occurs.
Feel free to make your suggestions—or critique ours—in the comments section.
5. Marcos Maidana
More than anything, Argentine ruffian Marcos Maidana wants to find himself back in a ring with Mayweather Jr. when “Money” makes his annual mid-September spotlight appearance. But if Mayweather’s old man, Floyd Mayweather Sr., has his way, it seems Maidana might be available for other opportunities.
The welterweight champion’s trainer told MLive.com’s David Mayo that he wanted no part of a rematch thanks to Maidana’s tactics in the May fight in Las Vegas—which Mayweather won by majority decision. So if the son takes the fatherly advice, what better than a matchup of the last two welterweights who failed to crack the code?
The two were supposed to meet as 140-pounders three years ago, but the August 2011 fight was called off when Guerrero suffered a shoulder injury during training camp. It’d certainly be an attractive endeavor seven pounds to the north, too, and the winner would no doubt make a case for getting a second date with Mayweather.
4. Devon Alexander
Two fights before Guerrero returned to prominence against Kamegai on Saturday night, former two-division champion Devon Alexander made his own case for renewed relevance by pounding out a 10-round undercard decision over rugged gatekeeper Jesus Soto Karass.
Alexander had been inactive since losing his IBF share of the division’s title domain to Shawn Porter six months ago in Brooklyn, but the St. Louis-born southpaw already had Guerrero on his mind before the Soto Karass fight was arranged for the Showtime card on which he and “The Ghost” came back.
He made those feelings known to BoxingScene.com’s Ryan Burton in April:
We both have a lot to prove. I have to get back to my winning ways and I'm way better than what my two losses have made me out to be, but the fans don't want to hear excuses, they want to see action in the ring so that is what I plan on doing. Let's make it happen.
3. Danny Garcia
Whether or not Danny Garcia would be a credible opponent for Guerrero when he ultimately vacates the 140-pound weight class for the welterweights is up for debate, but what’s less questionable is how entertaining the fathers of the two fighters would be during the run-up.
Guerrero’s father, Ruben, threw the first verbal stones at Angel Garcia earlier this month while discussing a possible Danny Garcia matchup with Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com:
Angel ain't nothing. I already punked him. I would hurt that poor guy. If he's going to face me, he better be ready because I don't tolerate s--t from anyone. Angel is nothing, I'm a real guy from the street. I'm from a real town where there are nothing but barrios. I grew up tough. He just acts tough, he's just a guy with a big mouth.
Garcia will fight one more time at 140—reportedly in August in Brooklyn—before making his rise. And when it came to the fighter himself, Ruben Guerrero was a bit more complimentary:
Danny Garcia is the kind of fighter who likes to fight. He always comes to fight and that's the kind of opponents that we like. I give him a lot of credit because he always comes to fight. That's a real fighter right there, because he likes to stand in front and fight.
2. Amir Khan
Englishman Amir Khan has taken himself out of the running for a September fight with Mayweather Jr. because of religious commitments, but when he makes himself available later this year for a return he wouldn’t mind seeing Guerrero standing there waiting for him.
Guerrero was suggested as a potential opponent when Mayweather chose to fight Maidana instead of Khan this spring in Las Vegas. Khan stayed busy on that undercard, however, and his one-sided defeat of former WBA champion Luis Collazo has decidedly increased his 147-pound profile.
Khan is ranked a top-six contender by the IBO, WBA, WBC and WBO, and he’s slotted ninth in the division by the Independent World Boxing Rankings, which ranks all fighters in a division regardless of which belts any of the fighters hold. Guerrero is ranked No. 12 by the WBC.
1. Keith Thurman
There’s probably no hotter fighter among the 147-pounders than Florida-based slugger Keith Thurman, and a matchup with Guerrero would mean an actual follow-through on a fight that, according to former Golden Boy CEO Schaefer, could have happened last fall.
Schaefer told BoxingScene.com in August that Guerrero turned down Thurman as an opponent for what would have been a November date. Guerrero still hadn’t fought since losing to Mayweather in May 2013, while Thurman wound up fighting twice since the match was aborted.
He stopped Soto Karass in nine rounds in December in Texas and then beat former lightweight champion Julio Diaz in three rounds on April 26 in California.
Guerrero, when Thurman’s name was mentioned leading into Saturday’s fight, indicated “One Time” was certainly on the radar.
“Every fight is possible to happen,” he told BoxingScene.com’s Luis Sandoval. “Keith Thurman he’s a good fighter. Hard hitter and he’s always in great shape and he’s been wrecking through the division. In the future that’s a big fight. Down the line.”
After the fight, when Showtime's Gray asked him specifically about Thurman, a laughing Guerrero went the country music route instead.
"Keith Urban?" he said. "I might go see one of his concerts."