December 16, 2005

Guerrero: ‘Loss will make me better’

‘The Ghost’ laments not coming out more aggressive in the earlier rounds against Diaz

By John Bagley

Gilroy’s Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero knows that the best fighters in the history of boxing have lost a bout at one time or another.

So rather than let his first professional loss last Friday night at Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore to Gamaliel Diaz get him down, the former North American Boxing Federation Featherweight champion is using the defeat as a learning experience and a positive stepping stone in his quest for greatness and a world championship belt.

This month the 22-year old is going to relax and enjoy the holidays with his wife and child before preparing for his next fight, which is expected to take place sometime early next year.

“I feel like this loss is going to make me better,” said Guerrero, who admits that he wasn’t as aggressive against Diaz as he has been in past bouts. “A lot of good is going to come out of this. This was a setback but it was a good setback. A few more fights and I’ll be right back where I want to be. It’s a long road but I have good management to help me get there.”

Just the fact that Guerrero is as upbeat as he is shows that the young boxer also is a class act and handles adversity well.

In the bout against Diaz, Guerrero lost by a single point in a match that was decided by split-decision.

“It was a tough one,” said Guerrero, after seeing his stellar pro record slip to 16-1-1. “I thought I won but the judges thought differently. This will just make me work harder to get ready for the next one.”

Normally an aggressive boxer with a strong, relentless jab and precision left hook, the southpaw didn’t pursue Diaz as much as he had other boxers in previous bouts — at least in the early rounds.

“He came to fight and he put up a great fight but I still felt like I edged it out,” said Guerrero. “I hurt him a few times. But every time I would hurt him he would hold me and tie me up. He unloaded on some solid shots but he never hurt me.”

Guerrero, who was ranked No. 2 in the world by the World Boxing Council heading into the bout that was broadcast on Showtime, is expected to slip in the world rankings, which haven’t been updated yet. But that doesn’t discourage his publicist.

“Robert was the only boxer in the whole world ranked as high as he was at such a young age,” said Mario Serra-no. “All of the other fighters that are ranked that high are at least 24 or 25. We’re still going all the way.”

Had Guerrero beaten Diaz it was expected that he would get a title shot with the World Boxing Council or at the very least get an elimination fight for the No. 1 ranking.

Guerrero had also been steadily climbing up the ratings ladder for the World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation.

Heading into the bout Guerrero was ranked 12th by the WBA and 7th in the IBF. Diaz, who has now won 19 bouts in a row, was ranked seventh by the WBC.

Diaz, who lives in Mexico City, was fighting for the first time in the United States. He capitalized early on by landing bigger blows that gave him an early cushion in the bout. It was a lead that Guerrero was unable to overcome – despite becoming the aggressor in the final three rounds and kept the pressure up through the final bell. But it wasn’t enough to overtake Diaz, as the bout was scored 114-113 by judge Marty Sammon for Diaz. Ed Kuglar scored the bout 115-112 for Guerrero and Marshal Walker scored it 115-112 for Diaz.

“It was by a single point. There is a good chance that I’ll fight him again,” Guerrero said. “I’m hoping to fight him again to show everyone that I won the fight. I’ll be back. I’m only 22, and this will make me a better fighter in the long run.”

Reprinted from “The Sunday Pinnacle” (www.pinnacle

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