The Ghost Goes Down

By Caryn A. Tate on July 15, 2017
The Ghost Goes Down
Most viewers wondered if Figueroa had taken on too much. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Omar “La Panterita” Figueroa, the undefeated former lightweight WBC champion, took a step up for this fight…

In all of the hubbub surrounding the Mayweather vs. McGregor tour this week, some people may have forgotten about Figueroa vs. Guerrero on Saturday night from Long Island, New York. If any of them missed the bout live, they’ll no doubt regret it.

Fighting out of the red corner in the red and white trunks was Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (33-6-1, 18 KOs). Guerrero is an experienced veteran of the sport at only 34 years of age—he’s a six-time world champion in four weight divisions, and lost a decision four years ago to Floyd Mayweather, the pound-for-pound king at the time.

Guerrero had been out of the ring for 11 months prior to this fight, having lost back-to-back decisions to Danny Garcia in January 2016 and David Emanuel Peralta in August 2016 in an upset. He’s done what fans love, faced the best in his divisions, and sometimes he lost. But over the past year, Guerrero began CrossFit training and said he’d been engaging too much in wars, in trading punches, and had neglected his boxing ability. He vowed to correct that on Saturday.

Omar “La Panterita” Figueroa (27-0-1, 19 KOs), the undefeated former lightweight WBC champion, took a step up for this fight. Not only was he moving up in weight, he was coming off of a 19-month layoff to allow his oft-injured hands to heal. Many wondered if his hands were fully healed and whether they would fail him against such a tough opponent. He walked to the ring in silence, with no music, to honor all members of the U.S. military who have lost their lives. He also wore a t-shirt that commemorated the seven Navy sailors from the USS Fitzgerald who lost their lives in June.

Omar fought out of the blue corner wearing the red and silver trunks. He started out slow and took too many punches in the first round. His reflexes seemed slow, which top-notch trainer and expert commentator Virgil Hunter speculated could have been due to his long layoff and some ring rust. On my scorecard, Guerrero won the first round and had most viewers wondering if Figueroa had taken on too much for his first fight back.

But Omar dispelled all doubts after that.

In round 2, Figueroa landed a phenomenal left uppercut, unseen by Guerrero, that snapped The Ghost’s head back and immediately dropped him like a ton of bricks. The shot took Guerrero’s legs out from under him as he fell to his knees. He rose, but his legs were unsteady and he proceeded to stand toe-to-toe and fight on the inside, exactly where Figueroa wanted him. Shortly thereafter, Guerrero had backed Omar into a corner. Robert had his head turned to his right when Figueroa came around with a right hand, again unseen, that landed to the side of Guerrero’s head and dropped him again. Later, Omar landed a left hook upstairs that again buckled Guerrero’s knees and he fell to the canvas for a third time.

In round 3, Guerrero went after Omar and backed him across the ring. But by this point, nearly everything Figueroa landed upstairs shook Guerrero and often snapped his head back in an alarming way, largely because it seemed he just couldn’t seem to keep an eye on everything Omar was throwing. Guerrero wasn’t responding well, and when Omar landed a right hand upstairs, the Ghost went down again. Guerrero fought bravely but stayed in the pocket where Figueroa wanted him. Finally, when Figueroa landed a solid left hook to the body and dropped Guerrero a fifth time in the contest, the referee mercifully waved it off.

It appears Figueroa’s hands really are fine.

In his post-fight interview with Brian Kenny, Figueroa said, “That’s one of the punches that we practiced a lot in camp, the left uppercut.”

Regarding his future, he stated, “I want to get a title at 140.” When Kenny asked if he could make that weight, Omar said simply, “Oh, yeah.”

Guerrero did an excellent job in the first round and seems to still have something left in the tank. The biggest concern at this point is his health—hopefully he will get a clean bill of health and can move on to his next fight.

It was a truly impressive performance from Figueroa, who seemed to only take one round to shake his ring rust. His punches came from all sorts of different angles, and as usual for him, he excelled at inside work. His short punches were a thing of beauty and as the bout went along, he did better and better with his defense, moving his head and slipping more shots than he did in the first round. Moving back down to 140 is probably a wise choice, as his frame isn’t big enough for the welterweight division by and large. At only 27 years old, his future is bright and it certainly seems like a world title awaits him one division lower after this excellent performance.

Follow Caryn A. Tate on Twitter@carynatate

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Omar Figueroa, Jr vs. Robert Guerrero

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  1. raxman 11:16pm, 07/15/2017

    I don’t know about you guys but I don’t think there is anything sadder than a former champion transitioning to gatekeeper.
    I blame Guerrero senior for feeding the delusion to Robert that he is a ko artist who is best trying to stand and bang rather than box and Al Haymon who has been feeding Robert to his “star” clients Thurman, Garcia and now FIgueroa

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:07pm, 07/15/2017

    Another great report! This is the first time Robert has been KOd…..and he has been in with some very hard punchers that landed on him time and again….the real question here is about his ability to take a punch at this point in his career.

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