Tough words from a tough man.
Last night, in his inaugural bout in the welterweight division, former three division champion Robert Guerrero, fighting for the first time in 15 months, won a twelve round unanimous over Selcuk Aydin (23-1, 17KOs) to claim the WBC interim Welterweight title.
The fighter dubbed "The Ghost" ran his record to 30-1-1 18KOs.
In dismantling the formidable, previously-undefeated Aydin, Robert Guerrero, who fought most of his career at featherweight (126 lbs), proved with little doubt he's a top 10 welterweight.
The questions remaining are: How good is he now, how good can he become and would be able to deal with the likes of Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather?
While Guerrero certainly looked good last night, he made a few tactical errors and wasn't dominant nor sensational. But again, in his defense, he was fighting for the first time as a welterweight and coming back from shoulder surgery and a 15 month lay-off.
Aydin's style was raw but unpredictable and the Turkish-born fighter was able to connect with a few hard shots on occasion, albeit not enough to seize a majority of the rounds.
According to ShoStats, Aydin threw only 142 jabs, landing only 25. By contrast, "The Ghost" registered 478 jabs with 142 connects according to the same tallying procedure. By not employing a consistent jab, the slower Aydin gave his Southpaw foe few opportunities to counter over the top with a right hook, opting to hurl lead right-hands to get inside - And the strategy worked at times.
And while Guerrero used his 4-5 inch reach advantage when fencing with Aydin at a safe distance, the latter was often able to effectively close the distance from Round 4 on and unleash his home-run bombs. Although most of his powershots missed the target, an impressive 42% of them landed, including some jolting right uppercuts that more than got Guerrero's attention.
In the end though, Robert Guerrero wouldn't be denied. He withstood Aydin's pressure and power-punching and ultimately outboxed and outworked his Turkish-born foe, using his superior hand speed and technical skills to unleash sharp, crisp combinations to Aydin's head and body, prevailing in a competitive, fan-friendly contest.
Courtesy of Showtime
Is Robert Guerrero Ready for Manny Pacquiao?
Based on his good - but not overwhelming - performance last night against the RING's No. 10 Welterweight, most insiders would probably like to see Robert defend his title once or twice against another top welterweight before being seriously considered as a Pacquiao or Mayweather opponent.
Aiyen is a quality fighter who's 'tough as nails,' yet he's still a bit raw technically. If he could penetrate Guerrero's defense without even using a consistent jab to work his way inside, what would a much quicker, more experienced, more technically-proficient fighter like Manny Pacquiao be able to do?
But Robert Guerrero sees things differently. And why shouldn't he? He's 30-1-1 with his sole loss coming via a narrow Gamaliel Diaz nearly eight years ago.
In a recent interview with RingTV, Guerrero discussed the perceived stylistic advantages he'd have versus Manny Pacquiao, even sharing his strategy to win.
Courtesy of Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
"I think about [fighting Pacquiao] all the time. The way Pacquiao comes in is reckless. He comes in a lot of times jumping in. Being a left-hander also, I really feel that he's tailor-made for me to knock him out," Guerrero asserted with confidence.
"When Tim Bradley would get in there and just mix it up with Pacquiao, he threw some great combinations and landed some great shots. Just the hand speed that Bradley has, and with his short arms, getting in there with those tight, compact punches, you know I just liked that," said Guerrero.
"I have done the homework on Pacquiao."
Perhaps underscoring a 3-4 inch reach advantage he'd have on Manny, the "Ghost" added, I would use the long jab and go with a triple and quadruple jab."
"I have a whole completely different idea on how to beat him. So it's just about getting that opportunity to further expose him. From there, I would just go to work," concluded "The Ghost" in his RingTV interview.
But that's easier said than done and whether Guerrero could successfully execute such a strategy, today, against a fighter of Pacquiao's experience, skill and quickness remains to be seen.
And while Manny Pacquiao often leaps in with his power shots, the fleet-footed PacMan has the ability to dart in and out of an opponent's range at advantageous angles and pivot or spin away quickly following a combination. Pacquiao is so quick and fluid, most opponents have difficulty finding him nonetheless countering effectively.
Photo credit: Chris Farina-Top Rank
Simply put, Selcuk Aydin is a far cry from Manny Pacquiao.
"Right now, Manny has the best and most athletic footwork in boxing," stated fighter trainer James Gogue just prior to Pacquio vs Bradley last month. His ability to change directions so quickly is uncanny. He also has the ability to multi-task on the inside and duck out of harm's way while firing off his own arsenal of punches. Just like Floyd, you can't really prepare for a fighter like Manny effectively because no one can truly replicate Manny's fight style in the gym."
"The second variable that is most improved in Manny's fight game would be the overall strength in Pacquiao's lead right hand. Ten years ago, Pacquiao didn't work behind an effective jab or throw a lead right hook. He was solely dependent upon his straight left hand to win fights."
"Gogue added, "His combinations are so creative now and they come at opponents from such odd angles. He mixes his arsenal up extremely well and isn't just doing the same thing all the time. It's almost impossible to anticipate."
Last night, a courageous but somewhat technically-limited Selcuk Aydin exposed a few chinks in Guerrero's armour and took the fight to the proverbial trenches, forcing the "Ghost" to dig deep to muster a victory. Given that, in addition to Guerrero's lack of experience above lightweight (135 lbs) and the fact he's never faced a top 15 pound-for-pound opponent, I don't think he's quite ready for the drastic step up in class Manny Pacquiao would represent.
Credit: Chris Farina, Top Rank
At this moment in their careers, the 33 year old Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KO) would bring too much to the table for "The Ghost" and it would be in Guerrero's best interest to participate in at least one or two bouts against top-tier opponents in his new weight class and make assessments following those performances before calling out the 'big boys.'
The 29 year old Guerrero could possibly position himself for a mega payday against a fighter like Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather within the next 12 or 18 months if Guerrero's management makes the right calls.
In the meantime, there are a lot of potential mini-superfights on the horizon for "The Ghost."
Andre Berto, Marcos Maidana, Devon Alexander, Randall Bailey, Kell Brook or Zab Judah... Just to name a few. And, if "King Khan" bolts to welterweight, Guerrero vs Khan would be an intriguing affair as well.