Robert Guerrero returns from layoff to win brutal bout over Kamegai

June 22, 2014

Carson, Calif. -- Fresh off a thirteen-month hiatus, Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KOs) likely could use another similar break after battling to a unanimous decision victory in a rough twelve-round bout against Japan's Yoshihiro Kamegai (24-2-1, 21 KOs) Saturday night at the StubHub Center in front of 5,711 fans.  The judges scored the bout 117-111, 117-111, and 116-112.

Since losing to Floyd Mayweather and taking his layoff, Guerrero has changed his training methods and engaged in a very public contractual dispute with Golden Boy Promotions. Given such circumstances, one would think that Guerrero might choose to return with an easier tune-up bout, rather than taking on a solid contender such as Kamegai.

Guerrero initially tried to use his better hand speed and boxing skills to pepper Kamegai from distance, but quickly got drawn into a rugged fight in which he continually found himself against the ropes trying to counter his opponent's relentless pressure.

“It was a rough fight," said Guerrero, whose left eye was cut and swollen shut. “I didn’t want to get caught into his style, but right out of the gate I did. I’m not a runner, I will fight. He is a tough, great fighter. I want to give the fans what they want. I was in great shape. I took the shots very well because of the shape I am in because of CrossFit.”

Guerrero threw 1,082 total punches, 764 of which were power shots. The iron-chinned Kamegai took all 484 punches that Guerrero landed and kept coming, perfectly content to eat two shots in order to get in one. The result was 12 brutal rounds in a phone booth with both men unloading a variety of combinations, uppercuts, and hooks.

Guerrero swept the first three rounds on all three scorecards by fighting off Kamegai's attack with volume combinations.  Kamegai, however, would rally, taking Round 6 on all three judges' cards, as he appeared to be slowly breaking Guerrero down with his pressure.

But just when it appeared Guerrero might be in trouble, he found his second wind, rallying to capture four of the last five rounds on the judges' cards.

“I’m OK with the decision,’’ said Kamegai, who threw 831 punches and landed 293, including 134 body shots. “My fighting spirit stems from the fact I flew all this way to win. All through the fight I kept thinking I am here to win, I felt he shook me a couple of times and weakened my legs, but I hurt him a few times, too. But he recovered quickly.’’

For a fighter who had not seen a lot of rounds lately, Guerrero did not display much ring rust. He was sharp and accurate throughout the fight -- perhaps because Kamegai provided a nice, easy-to-find target -- connecting on 45% of his total punches and an impressive 54% of his power shots. He landed 411 power punches overall, including 118 body shots.

“I wanted to get on my toes but I fell right back into banging with him," said Guerrero.  "I have been out for a year and it’s time to get back to work again. I am getting back in the gym right away. He hit me with a great shot to the left eye and I had to get right back up and keep fighting. There’s no backing down."

The Undercard: Vasyl Lomachenko gets decision win against Gary Russell Jr.

In a bout between two young, exciting southpaw featherweights, former two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO), of Ukraine, won a 12-round majority decision over previously undefeated Gary Russell Jr. (24-1, 14 KOs) to capture the vacant WBO world 126-pound crown in just his third pro fight.  The judges scored the bout 114-114, 116-112, and 116-112.

The fight was an interesting display of skill, as the speedy Russell started well in the early rounds, doubling and tripling his jab, getting off first, and forcing Lomachenko to back and circle away.

“He had real good lateral movement, we tried to close the distance with the jab but he was moving well," said Russell Jr.

Lomachenko, 396-1 as an amateur, turned things around in Round 5, as he got busier and began to attack the body.  He would end up landing 57 power shots to the body in the fight and 183 punches overall.

“The plan built by our team was great, I was trying to land the punches and I did," said Lomachenko.  "I landed punches very well. I started from the body and went to the head.’’

Russell rallied in Rounds 8 and 9 with his volume punching, but Lomachenko finished strong and landed the harder punches down the stretch.

“I am very happy and excited to be a world champion,’’ said Lomachenko. “I want to thank all the fans that came here to support me from Ukraine. To join the Klitschkos as a champion from Ukraine, I would like to thank them."

Russell threw 806 total punches to Lomachenko's 597, but according to CompuBox's stats, landed only 83 shots.  Of Russell's 425 jabs, only 4% landed.

“It was a fair decision," said Russell after his first loss.  "It’s disappointing to lose, but we’re warriors and we will go back to the drawing board."

Other Undercard Bouts

Devon Alexander returned to form, performing well in a decision win over Jesus Soto Karass.

In another undercard bout, former pound-for-pound elite fighter “Bad Chad” Dawson (31-3, 17 KOs) returned to the ring since his two recent losses and knocked out George “Honey Boy” Blades (23-5, 16 KOs) in the first round. Dawson dropped Blades twice, and Blades was counted out at 2:35 after the second knockdown.

Also, 2012 U.S. Olympian and undefeated heavyweight Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (11-0, 10 KOs), of Los Angeles, registered a third-round knockout over 2004 U.S. Olympic team captain Devin “Devastatin’” Vargas (18-4, 7 KOs).

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor of

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