Photos courtesy of Wright Productions
“The most important thing I learned was finding a way to win at any cost possible. That’s what I have learned and I’ve gathered thru my whole career now.”
– Fernando Guerrero
The Spanish word guerrero directly translates to warrior in English. For junior middleweight contender Fernando Guerrero (28-3, 20 KOs), his last name is more than just a name, it’s his identity. Fernando Guerrero is a warrior and everything from his choice of outfit, to the boxing style he employs, embodies the essence of one.
“When you step in that ring, you want to step in the ring and do it for something. I want everybody to see that I stand for something strong – a whole nation,” Guerrero said. A warrior is a fearless fighter by definition, and it’s no coincidence the sweet science is Guerrero’s profession of choice.
He’s a battle tested fighter who fought seven hard championship rounds in 2013 with Peter Quillen, the WBO middleweight titleholder at the time. Guerrero’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, chose not to attend the fight because Amir Khan, a prized fighter from his stable, was fighting on the same night in a different country. When Hunter chose to work Khan’s corner, it left Guerrero facing Quillen and a dilemma.
I’m not gonna say no to a world championship, I don’t care who it is.
“I had a choice whether to fake an injury just so I [wouldn’t have to] fight . . . but as a warrior, I’m not gonna say no to a world championship, I don’t care who it is. I just went in there and said, ‘with you or without you I’m gonna win, no matter what.’ But once when I got in the fight, my emotions were involved too much.”
In Hunter’s absence, Guerrero lost to Quillen. It was a learning experience and one of the motivating factors behind his decision to move down to junior middleweight.
“Back in the days I would have been a natural 160-pounder – but now you have those middleweights blowing up 30 pounds. When I fought Peter Quillen, the most I gained was five pounds, man. Now I’m fighting a person who doesn’t have a weight class because when I see him walking around. . . I know he gotta be at least 180-190. For me I can’t do that to my body and I don’t want to,” Guerrero said.
His next fight is against Tony Harrison (22-1, 18 KOs), a slick boxer from the Kronk gym with hand speed . Harrison usually isn’t hard to find because he likes to stalk his opponents, but he can be hard to hit.
“I think he’s gonna come in there to fight. He has good tools. He’s quick – he’s strong – he has 18 KOs. I think the true winners are the viewers. They’re gonna see a heck of a fight. He’s from Detroit and I’m from Maryland. It can be a Hagler/Hearns or a Sugar Ray Leonard/Hearns, but, either way, you know the history about it, Hearns always lost.”
. . . Taking an opponent like Tony Harrison, I think it will show everybody, this was a good win . . . [and I’m] back at the championship level again.
Guerrero’s confidence going into the Harrison fight stems from working under the tutelage of his current coach, Shadeed Saluki, who trained Lamon Brewster for his upset victory over Wladimir Klitschko in 2004. Team Guerrero teamed up with Team Saluki in 2014 and the partnership has given Guerrero’s warrior blood the injection of life it needed.
“Shadeed Saluki, he’s a real great trainer – old school. I’ve been with him for a year and a half now and he’s great. Everything that I do he’s always there – old school. You have other coaches, you only see them an hour and a half, that’s it. But this guy is there when my physical trainer is there, he’s there in the morning, he’s there with my runs, he’s there with everything. I’m his Mayweather. I’m his number one and he makes me feel that way.”
Guerrero is on a two fight win streak with his new trainer. “There’s a difference between having a teacher and a professor. I like to call him my professor because he likes when I ask questions. I ask questions – he answers me – then we talk about it. It’s a teamwork type of thing,” Guerrero added.
This will be Guerrero’s second fight at junior middleweight and he’s looking to send a message to the rest of the division. “When I go in there and I show everybody that I’m a proper junior middleweight, and taking an opponent like Tony Harrison, I think it will show everybody, this was a good win . . . [and I’m] back at the championship level again.”
Guerrero’s warrior spirit makes him fearless and the moment an opportunity arises for a shot at the junior middleweight belt, he’ll gladly welcome the challenge. “Why not fight for the title after this? I mean, I don’t got nothing to wait for. We’re gonna do it this year. I’m gonna be a champion this year.”
But first, a win against Tony Harrison is pivotal.
Tony Harrison vs. Fernando Guerrero – Showtime, Saturday, March 5, at 10p ET/PT
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