‘Ghost’ appears to haunt Pacman

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - WBC No. 8 welterweight contender Robert (The Ghost) Guerrero has declared himself available to fight Manny Pacquiao next and boldly predicted the match will be a pay-per-view blockbuster.

In an exclusive e-mail interview, Guerrero told The Star through his publicist Mario Serrano that even as Pacquiao was impressive in trouncing Brandon Rios in Macau last month, he expects to beat the Filipino ring icon. Guerrero, 30, has a 31-2-1 record, with 18 KOs, and is coming off a loss on points to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas last May.

“I thought Pacquiao looked incredibly sharp against Rios,” said the 5-8 Gilroy, California, native. “He’s definitely back in top form. Any time a fighter reaches his mid-30s (Pacquiao turns 35 on Dec. 17), it would assume his better days are behind him. But in today’s world with new training methods, fighters are taking care of their bodies better. Pacquiao seems to fit that mold as a fighter who works very hard and takes care of his body. I would say he has at least five good years left in him.”

Guerrero disclosed that in 2005, he sparred with Pacquiao at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. At the time, The Ghost was unbeaten. “I’ve been seeking a fight with Pacquiao since we sparred,” he said. “I was just a young prospect at the time but the situation never presented itself. I really believe a fight with me and Manny would end with my hand being raised. The fight would be difficult because Manny is the best fighter in the world right now.”

Guerrero said what makes Pacquiao so difficult to beat is his blinding speed. It’s not easy to connect on a moving target. “Nothing Pacquiao does will be easy to overcome,” he said. “The man does a lot of great things in the ring but he does have some flaws. As Rios found out, his speed more than anything would be the most challenging to handle.”

There is no doubt in Guerrero’s mind that a fight against Pacquiao would be a box office draw. “I think it would be tremendous because we both come to fight and the fans know that,” he continued. “Neither of us will be running. Everyone knows the fight will have fireworks. And I do believe the fans would want to see us fight so they can make their own comparison. I come from a hard-working family and we know how hard it is to earn a dollar and to pay top dollar for a pay-per-view, you want to see an explosive fight. When Mayweather feels threatened, he gets on his bike and runs and when Manny feels threatened, he fights toe-to-toe and that’s why he’s loved world-wide.”

Guerrero dismissed the notion that if and when he battles Pacquiao, it will end his career. “Manny will know when it’s time to hang ‘em up,” he said. “As we all saw, he looked incredible against Rios. I can’t say if we fought that I would send him to retirement. That would be a bold statement. All I can say is if we fought, it would be a very explosive fight.”

Since both Guerrero and Pacquiao are southpaws, it will be an interesting duel similar to the battles of lefthanders involving Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Alan Minter, Rolando Navarrete and Cornelius Boza-Edwards and Rafael (Bazooka) Limon, Vicente Saldivar and Mitsunori Seki and Naseem Hamed and Kevin Kelley. “I think a fight between Pacquiao and me would be very entertaining because we both have power in our two hands and our power left hands are devastating,” he said. “I don’t recall any recent big fights between southpaws.”

Guerrero hopes to add his name to the growing list of candidates for Pacquiao’s next fight. The candidates include WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Kell Brook and now, Robert Guerrero. Pacquiao’s next fight is set on April 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Guerrero has lost only twice – to Gamaliel Diaz via a split decision in 2005 and to Mayweather. He avenged the setback to Diaz by scoring a sixth round knockout in a rematch a year later. A 2006 loss to Orlando Salido was declared a no-contest after the Mexican tested positive for drugs. Two of his notable victims were Andre Berto and Michael Katsidis.

Guerrero turned pro at 125 1/4 in 2001 and has held the IBF featherweight and superfeatherweight titles. He also wore the interim WBA/WBO lightweight belts.





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