Power-punching from the get-go, Gilroy’s Robert Guerrero knocked down Vicente Escobedo twice Saturday and defeated his fellow California by unanimous decision in a 10-round lightweight bout in Newark, N.J.
It was the first time on HBO that Guerrero has assumed the role of brute instead of matador, and some of that aggressiveness may have stemmed from a desire to prove wrong the critics who said he is usually too dependent on finesse.
Guerrero (28-1-1) , a southpaw, landed a couple of right hooks in the first round that set up his left-handed power shots. He floored Escobedo (22-3) with a right-left combination in the third, put him down in the fifth in an incident ruled a slip, and scored the second knockdown in the sixth in an exchange of power shots.
“I went out and established my presence,” said Guerrero, who considered this outing just as typical of his fights as his more careful victory over Joel Casamayor last summer. “The Casamayor fight, he’s a lefty, so I had to fight smart. This fight here, whole different story. He was a right-hander, so I went to work.”
Escobedo truly is a finesse fighter but, forced to engage in a slugfest with Guerrero, he landed plenty of right crosses. “He got in some shots, but he never hurt me,” Guerrero said. “The only thing he hurt was my fist,” amended “The Ghost,” whose victory lines him up for a lightweight title shot against the winner of a Juan Manuel Marquez-Michael Katsidis fight.
Katsidis and Guerrero are really parallel now that each has fought Escobedo. Katsidis bullied Escobedo even more effectively in the first couple of rounds in their 2009 bout but began to fade after that, hanging on to win a narrow decision.
Escobedo also won a couple of late rounds against Guerrero, who said he thought he hurt his left hand in the seventh. “That’s why you saw me throw a lot more jabs,” he said.
But the fight was not close. The scorecards read 100-88, 98-92 and 96-92.
In other words, Guerrero, 27, kicked butt image-wise, pretty much beating up a well-regarded opponent, and might rate as a slight favorite against Katsidis, the match Guerrero had to decline last spring because of his wife’s health. As for JuanMa, Guerrero was hit squarely enough Saturday to cast some doubt about that.
He probably wouldn’t fight so balls-out against either Katsidis or Marquez, but Guerrero did the right thing Saturday, and his career, which has included two featherweight world titles and a super-featherweight belt, reached its highest level thus far.
HBO MINI-DOCOMENTARY: HBO aired a 10-minute story of Guerrero’s career and wife Casey’s struggle with leukemia as a lead-in, but it was pretty cursory for those of us who have been following his career. He still needs more P.R. Once again, HBO didn’t interview him post-fight, so publicist Mario Serrano got us together by phone.