The Middleweight division is having an exciting year as many seek to be the one to take the crown away from Sergio Martinez.
Titleholders such as Darren Barker, Peter Quillin, and Gennady Golovkin may come to mind when thinking about the race for the undisputed Middleweight championship.
But there’s one fighter whose unique background, talent, and fighting style can make for a crowd-pleasing and exciting Middleweight champion: Fernando Guerrero.
Guerrero, a Dominican-born fighter who calls Salisbury, Maryland his hometown, makes his return on November 11 in San Antonio, Texas against Raymond Gatica (13-1, 8 KOs).
Gatica, a native of San Antonio, is coming off two knockout wins and will have the hometown advantage on his side.
Guerrero, (25-2, 19 KOs), who has wins over Gabriel Rosado and Ishe Smith, will have experience on his side.
The bout is part of a double-header presented by Golden Boy Promotions. The main event is a 140-pound fight between Jose Maldonado Jr. and Luis Ramos Jr. and will be broadcast live on November 11 at 6:00 pm ET on Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes.
Guerrero feels he is ready to make a statement in his return against Gatica and is anxious to prove why he is a serious runner in the race for the undisputed Middleweight championship.
I caught up with Guerrero after his final training session at Westside Boxing Club in Los Angeles, California.
RBRBoxing: How was the workout today, Fernando?
Guerrero: The workout was good–it was great, actually. Like always, we’re taking it slow and maintaining. We’re ready, so we’re good.
RBRBoxing: How was training camp?
Guerrero: Well, camp started about a month and a half ago. But, you know, I’m always training and in the gym so camp never really ends.
RBRBoxing: On November 11, you will be returning to the ring in San Antonio, Texas. You knocked out J.C. Candelo in the sixth round last year in Texas, and this will be your third fight there. How do you like fighting in Texas?
Guerrero: Texas is one of those places that’s real big in boxing and you’re going to get real boxing fans, so I love it. Your skills are there and they are more appreciated. The people there are great and I love it.
RBRBoxing: This is your first fight since your loss against Peter Quillin. Can you tell us about how you dealt with the loss and what you learned from it?
Guerrero: I’m a growing boxer and a growing man. I just turned 27. Basically, that loss was a learning experience. If you’re a real guerrero and a real warrior, you can’t really take it down—you’ve always got to keep going. There’s no quit in me. I put that in the past. As soon as I was done with that fight I just went to sleep. It wasn’t me. Everybody has their bad days and that was just a bad day for me—even though Peter Quillin did great. I just put it behind me and never looked back after that.
RBRBoxing: If you could go back, is there something you would have done differently?
Guerrero: There are a lot of different things I could have done. Basically, it’s all the things that I’m doing now. With that fight, it was all mental. I was too emotional. There are a lot of people that know me as a fighter, they know I’m the type of fighter that boxes and thinks and is not an all-out brawler. Basically, what I did in this camp is stay happy. I gathered a real good team with Westside Boxing and made it home. They made me a family member and I made it home. So now it’s back to what we’re used to and that’s natural boxing.
Guerrero: Yes, technique, but it’s more about being comfortable and being confident. It’s about being at home. When you’re here at Westside boxing, you feel at home. You know everybody, everybody’s behind you 100%.
RBRBoxing: In your fight with Raymond Gatica, you will have an advantage in experience. What a lot of people may not know is that you have an extensive amateur background. Can you tell me a little about it and how it has helped you in your professional career?
Guerrero: Well, with 140 [amateur] fights there there’s not much you haven’t seen—from left handers, brawlers, everything. With that in your resume and 27 fights as a professional, what more can there be? If a guy stares you down in your face or whatever—I’ve seen that 170 times. I’ve been doing it my whole life. Basically, it’s get in, win, and get out.
RBRBoxing: I am currently reading “Naming Her Value,” which was written by your brother Carmelo Guerrero. What makes your struggle unique and how has it helped become a better fighter?
Guerrero: I’m honored that you picked this book up. I didn’t know what this book meant to Carmelo, but reading it myself—it means a whole lot. It got me back to my roots. I picked it up and tried to read it before my last fight with Peter, but I never really read it. Now I’m reading it and it’s talking about our hard times, walking around with no water and no electricity [in the Dominican Republic, where Guerrero is from]. It was hard times. I’m proud of me and my family, and our struggle coming over here. Even though I’m not a world champion now, I’m still striving to become a champion.
RBRBoxing: I got to the part where your brother quotes you from when you were younger. He says that you told him, “Every man is responsible for his destiny.” Do you live by that?
Guerrero: I live by that. I had to live by that ever since I was fourteen years old. I grew up with my brothers in the slums of the Dominican Republic. Not a lot of Dominicans know what I’m talking about. By living through that and coming to America, knowing we had to go our separate ways—I’ve always had to live by that. My brother is writing, my other brother is a family man, my sister is doing her thing and I’m a boxer—we’re all trying to love our lives to the fullest.
RBRBoxing: Your return marks your first fight with your new team. Can you tell us a little about them, who they are and what they’re like?
Guerrero: I can say a lot about them, but I’ll be blunt: They’re nobodies, just like me. By that, I mean that when you have someone who thinks they’re “someone,” they’re not as hungry and don’t feel they need to work as hard. Since I’m not a champion, I can’t relax. I’m thinking about, after I finish this fight, going out to run the same night. With my team, they’re just like me—they’re hungry, they’re behind me. They’re not going to let me skip a run at the mountain at 6am because they know that if I don’t make it, they don’t make it. They’re “nobodies” like me, and we’re all trying to be somebodies. My trainers are Ignacio “Nacho” Saucedo and Jose Saucedo [The Saucedo Brothers], from Westside Boxing. They’ve also got the whole family there at the gym–you’ve got “Chicken,” “Chachin” and “Jefe.” You even have “Tenoch” in there everyday. Those are the nicknames of some of the people who are behind me and who have become my family. We’re trying to make it and we’re trying to keep that family circle small.
RBRBoxing: You have a new strength and conditioning coach too, right?
Guerrero: Yeah, his name is Paul-Bryan McReynolds and he’s trying to become a “somebody” just like us.
RBRBoxing: Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans?
Guerrero: I’m not a champion…yet. I’m not going to stop until I am a champion. It’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s about the will to keep going. I’m trying to make it and I’m not going to stop until it’s finished.
All photos by Gabe Rivas/Round By Round Boxing