Man Vs Ghost: Robert Guerrero Gets A Tune-Up

Robert Guerrero needs a win. Badly. He’s lost two of his last three, albeit against some pretty nasty welterweight competition named Keith Thurman, Yoshihiro Kamegai and Floyd Mayweather. He lost basically every second to Mayweather, but gutted out a win 13 months later against Kamegai, who is a badass. In his first fight for Al Haymon’s “Premier Boxing Champions” broadcasts, he lost a wide decision to Thurman in a fun fight that saved the broadcast from the rotten stench of the Adrien Broner/John Molina samba that preceded it.

But ol’ Al wasn’t going to let “The Ghost” sit idly while the rest of his stable goes to work, so Guerrero will fight on NBC again this Saturday afternoon. Apparently Rod Salka was busy, so Aaron Martinez was the fighter lucky enough to draw the bout. Martinez, who has fought just twice since 2013, was stopped by Josesito Lopez in the 5th round in his most recent performance. That was last April, and he’s been on the shelf since then. It should also be noted that his face bursts open and spews blood everywhere anytime somebody so much as stares angrily at him. Yes, he is meant to lose in spectacular fashion this weekend.

Guerrero is a good fighter who is usually pretty fun to watch. He’s also got a backstory that’s perfect for broadcast television, which made him an ideal choice to headline the PBC cards. And he’s certainly being set up for more big shows, unless Martinez pulls off an absolutely massive upset Saturday. But this is an abysmal fight, one that would normally get executives laughed at and give hardcore fans nausea. And while PBC on a whole has gotten mixed reviews, the one thing that seemed unassailable was that the main match-ups have generally been competitive, at least on paper.

Saturday’s bout is nothing more than a showcase fight, one where Guerrero can look sensational against an opponent that probably even doesn’t belong in the ring with him. If Guerrero comes out and completely smokes Martinez, maybe by highlight-reel knockout, it sets him up quite nicely for a fall battle.

It certainly makes sense for Haymon to go this route — it’s hard to justify keeping a guy on network television if he keeps losing, no matter how good the battles are. If he sticks Guerrero with one of his other top dogs and he loses again, he becomes a pretty hard sell going forward. At least this time, few people outside of the Guerrero camp are touting Martinez up as some kind of snake-bitten Rocky-in-waiting. In fact, there isn’t a whole lot of touting going on… at all.

Perhaps it’s because the fight is the same day as middleweight champ Miguel Cotto’s return to HBO from a year-long layoff. Cotto is one of the biggest stars in boxing and pretty much anybody outside of a couple of fighters is going to pale in comparison. Most of the press coverage has gone his way (even though his fight isn’t exactly garnering glowing reviews either) while the PBC fights have been relegated to the sidelines as a mere afterthought. But Haymon has gone up against other broadcasts in the past and still put out a decent amount of pre-fight hype. This one? Not so much.

And it’s obvious why: There’s not much to hype. Guerrero should go into the ring against an opponent with three losses and a knockout percentage in the teens and blitz the living shit out of him. In fact, the longer the fight lasts, the worse it will be for The Ghost — losing to a very good fighter in Thurman is one thing, but struggling to put away a guy who was shoved in there for the sole purpose of getting cracked like an egg is worse.

But “Rocky” stories are usually for the movies, and this particular show should end quite painfully for Martinez. Hopefully, we’ll then see the winner in another meaningful scrap before the year is over. A rematch with Berto would be fun, as would a fight with Danny Garcia or Broner. Just no more of these, please.

A win is a win, but it’s a little less fun when it’s practically preordained.

(Photo credit: Harry How, Getty)