At a time when most professional boxers are either retired or washed up, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (37-6-1) still has plenty left in the tank.
That much was evident after the 38-year-old Gilroy native won a unanimous decision over Victor Ortiz in a welterweight bout in the co-feature fight of the Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas pay per view event on Aug. 21.
“A lot of guys in their mid-30s start to diminish because they’re smoking, partying and not taking care of their bodies,” Guerrero said. “I do neither and I take care of my body. I’ve always lived a clean lifestyle, I’m always staying in shape and taking care of myself. I train and run even if I’m not training for a fight.”
Guerrero said he’s had that type of mentality since he was 9 or 10 years old, and it’s obviously paid dividends. He runs six days a week and combines that with other workouts. After the fight with Ortiz, Guerrero took a week off to allow his body to recover before getting back into his usual daily training.
“I just love the all-around aspects of staying in shape with running and training in the gym,” he said. “It’s just what I do.”
Guerrero’s longevity has brought him to the cusp of another potential title shot, which many people didn’t think was possible after he retired in 2017. However, Guerrero is 4-0 since coming out of retirement in 2018, with his latest bout being the most notable one yet.
Guerrero entered the fight planning to work behind his jab and use combinations—which he was successful at times—but the match quickly turned into a battle of attrition.
“When you have a guy like Ortiz who is trying to tie you up and head butt you and is trying to land one big shot and knock you out, you have to make the adjustments,” Guerrero said. “That was his game plan, and when a guy is doing that, it makes it a bit tougher to execute things.”
Even though Guerrero might not be as elusive as he was 10 years ago, he said experience has made him a wiser boxer who is capable of changing things up on the fly.
“I think at 38 I’m a much better fighter than I was at 25, 30 years old,” he said. “When you’re young, you’re fighting more off youth and less experience. But the more experience you have, the more you know how to fight and make adjustments. You’re that much better.”
The Ghost credited his father and trainer, Ruben, for polishing his skills and telling Robert what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear. Robert said Ruben “motivates me to become a world champion again,” and a title shot could be imminent.
“My management team is working hard and this latest result puts me back into that slot of being a big player in the division,” Guerrero said. “There are a lot of big fights out there, especially being with Premier Boxing Champions, and this really puts me back into that mix. There are a lot of possibilities with the next fight. It could be a title fight, who knows?”
Whatever happens, Guerrero seemingly has added to his already sizable fan base for his warrior-like mentality in the ring and willingness to trade blows. One thing is for certain: Guerrero is finding his optimal zone every time he enters the ring.
“At this point of my career, I feel a lot more comfortable and feel better getting into that ring,” he said. “I’m always on edge, though, and ready to fight.”
Guerrero said the 23 months from the Ortiz fight to his previous fight in September 2019 benefited him in a variety of ways. After unretiring in late September 2018, The Ghost was active, fighting three times in a nine-month span.
“I think taking that time off of boxing (before the Ortiz fight) really did me good,” he said. “Fighting back to back to back really takes a toll on you mentally. I needed to step away from boxing a bit, regroup and assess what I needed to do to get back to where all my skills are being used.”
Guerrero now splits his time in San Juan Bautista and Las Vegas, though two of his three children still attend school in Gilroy. His middle child, Robert Jr., is a freshman at Gilroy High and boxing is his sport of choice.
“He’s at that age where he’s training hard, taking care of business and learning a lot,” Guerrero said. “I’m really proud of what he’s doing right now and seeing him blossom as a young fighter.”
Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]