Robert Guerrero firmly believes he still has plenty more to offer the sport.
That doesn’t make him any less proud of what he has already achieved.
“When fans look back at my career, I want them to know that I always went out and gave everything,” Guerrero told BoxingScene.com ahead of his upcoming clash with Victor Ortiz. “That I did a great job.
“The highlight of my career will be making the Hall of Fame, that I got there by winning world championships in every weight division I fought in. Knowing that when I fought, I didn’t just win titles but that I was also the people’s champion who went out and faced the best fighters.”
Guerrero (36-6-1, 20KOs) returns for the first time in nearly two years with his welterweight clash versus Ortiz (32-6-3, 25KOs) in their battle of former titlists Saturday evening at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Their bout serves as part of a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event headlined by a welterweight title fight between defending WBA claimant Yordenis Ugas (26-4, 12KOs) and legendary former eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs).
A win for Guerrero will likely land him one more big payday to add to a 20-year career that has included title reigns at featherweight and junior lightweight along with interim title wins at junior welterweight and welterweight. In a career filled with memories, one stands out the most—way back in November 2007 when he had to deal with a potentially tragic issue all while defending his world title in the same week.
“My most memorable highlight was defending my (featherweight) title against Martin Honorio the week when my wife got diagnosed with leukemia,” Guerrero recalled of perhaps the most spectacular win of his career, scoring a first-round knockout live on Showtime. “I was defending my IBF championship. Casey just got diagnosed that week. I was everywhere. She was in the hospital in California. My fight was in (Tucson) Arizona.
“I was just by her side in the hospital, not even training. So she tells me, ‘Hey, don’t you gotta go fight?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I’m not gonna fight. I’m here with you. I can’t just leave.’ She told me, ‘No, no, you’re ready. I just got it, you can’t do anything for me now. We’re here, we’re in the hospital. They’re taking care of me, there’s nothing else you can do at this point. Go fight.’”
Guerrero was attempting the first defense of the featherweight title he reclaimed earlier that year, though his mind understandably on matters far beyond the ring. Hearing those words of encouragement from Casey at a time she was literally fighting for her life was all the assurance that he needed.
“I told her, ‘If you really want me to go fight, I’ll go fight,’” Guerrero recalled. “She told me, ‘That’s what I want you to do.’”
Of course, committing to the fight itself was another matter.
Guerrero nearly lost his title at the scale, coming in two pounds over the limit after literally flying in that day from the California Bay area.
“His team was just like, ‘Damn! We got this!’ His press conference, they said that my wife just got this and my mind was gone. Now I miss weight,” remembers Guerrero. “They just knew they had me.”
Then came the fight itself.
“First 30 seconds go by, I put him out with a straight left,” notes Guerrero, who won the fight inside of a minute. “It was such an incredible moment. I didn’t even go back to the hotel. It was from the venue straight to the airport.
“Just one of those timeline fights you never forget. It feels like it was just yesterday. It’s so incredible to look back on it, to be able to be back home and tell my wife ‘We did it! We did it, baby!’”
Casey Guerrero recently celebrated her twelve-year anniversary of beating cancer, with Guerrrero looking to honor the memory the best way he knows how to contribute.
"It’s a blessing. To see all that she went through and never looked back, it’s inspiring to my own career," acknowledges Guerrero. "It’s a lot easier for me to make these sacrifices in camp. I can’t whine and cry about it. No matter what I go through, she went through so much worse.
"Just emotionally being by her side was rough. Being a fighter in the ring, you always have control. When you’re standing by your partner, your significant other and can’t do anything about it, it’s tough. Your mind is everywhere. She fought through all of that like a world champion and is now in a place where she’s healthy and cancer-free for 12 years now. My defense is a lot better, so I know she’s better! My mind doesn’t wander to those places anymore."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox