What a night of boxing! I am seriously kicking myself for always procrastinating on Carson City’s Stubhub Home Depot Center boxing events, open-air boxing venues are the shit! That venue almost always brings in real hungry fighters in it to win it and also put on a good show!
Robert Guerrero and Yoshihiro Kamegai was the headliner of the night and rightly so. I was amazed at the preparation both fighters exhibited, and just the amazing true grit that really reflects what makes boxing such a great sport. What I mean by this is that it’s true that great fighters are sometimes exalted because of their superhuman talents, skill, athleticism, and intelligence. However, what is great about the sport is that it also attracts unique individuals that aren’t in it to show off, but are in it to go to war, fight honorably, and emerge truly victorious against a rival, proving beyond the judges’ cards who really wants it more. Everyone at StubHub stood witness last night to Guerrero’s performance and his well-deserved win, and Kamegai can similarly walk out of there with his head high because he also won over many fans, including myself, all looking forward to his return to the ring.
What is seriously infuriating about last night event is again, the media commentary. Pre-fight storylines were continued over the course of 12 scintillating rounds talking about CrossFit, the commentator’s disappointment that Robert didn’t stick to boxing, and overall disappointment about what Robert did or did not learn from his 14-month layoff from his last fight with “Money” Mayweather. Extremely sparse comments about the technical in-fight between Robert and Kamegai, the creation and destruction of space inside the “phone booth”, and the superhuman show of endurance that both fighters excellently prepared for.
Guerrero started very fast with a blistering first round, wailing thudding combinations on a shelled-up Kamegai still priming his engines. Guerrero was moving laterally while Kamegai slowly stalked through his guard, with a glimmer of a right hook that was finding its home on Guerrero’s left eye and left side of his body. I witnessed Kamegai’s deft yet rough transitions between a peek-a-boo and a cross-arm block, with torso rotations, and then using hooks to the body or the head followed up with pawing jabs to repeat his recipe. It was really awesome to watch, and I found myself cheering on Kamegai to turn the tides despite Robert’s very impressive combinations and heat-seeking punches that were being felt through Kamegai’s guard, knocking his head back, and undoubtedly winning points inside those exchanges. In contrast, Guererro’s defense was one dimensional, and Kamegai took advantage with hooks and uppercuts that looked to hurt Guerrero definitely much more than he was ever hurt in his fights. Guerrero also found himself forgetting to use his feet, as the lateral movement from his first round was mysteriously gone in the later rounds. However, what Guerrero was really prepared for was explosive spurts of combinations, as he turned it to high gear on crucial rounds to consume Kamegai’s rising efforts to win the fight on the inside while also maintaining enough distance to keep him at bay. Despite the commentating, Guerrero fought a smart fight that took advantage of all his strengths: inside fighting, explosiveness, and endurance. I don’t know why CrossFit had to be the center of discussion on speaking about Robert’s boxing, but whatever he did in training certainly helped him maintain an extremely high pace of his style of fighting while executing explosiveness on crucial rounds to discourage Kamegai, which brutally painful consequences as Guerrero certainly paid the price but should be a lesson towards other fighters that benefit from a brawling, in-fighting style. (ehem Provodnikov ehem) You must train for endurance, explosiveness, while keeping the mind sharp and eyes open on all 12 rounds.
— Jeandra LeBeauf (@jethang) June 22, 2014
Kamegai on the other hand was so impressive to watch, and I was satisfied insofar as to see more power come from a Japanese fighter. Kamegai’s form on inside hooks and uppercuts were beautiful, he utilized such a minimum amount of space to gain a high amount of torque for stinging hooks to the face and whipping blows to the body. It was awesome, and I look forward to Kamegai hopefully improving his power and speed, because combined with that form he could be a force to be reckoned with. As a fan of the recent wave of Japanese boxers such as Ishida, Arakawa, Nishioka and now Kamegai, they all exhibit such a great fighting spirit that was briefly mentioned by Showtime commentators by way of the “Bushido Code”. Why, if every boxer had a Bushido Code in addition to CrossFit, drinking piss, or whatever American boxers want to incorporate to their training to gain a competitive edge, I really wouldn’t have a problem with American boxing anymore. Every fight would have honor (not money) on the line, and every fighter would be a winner despite one being crowned a belt and the other going home. Losers wouldn’t be forgotten on the wayside of boxing history, and would be celebrated as champions on their own right, exhibiting a level of honor that would protect the sport from skilled-yet-unmotivated boxers seeking only fame and money with the sport. Boxing in Japan must be so different from boxing here, where everyone probably leaves the stadium with a smile on their face. I digress, I invite you to check out Hajime No Ippo for more about Japanese boxing lore.
In the end, Guerrero certainly walked through a 12-round ring of fire last night and deserved the win over a hungry fighter that also deservedly held his head high after the fight. Guerrero would do well to internalize and burn this struggle in his memory and carry an inherited Japanese Bushido Spirit to his next fight, and if he does he will certainly walk over most other challengers in the welterweight division, and he might emerge as a champion again, or at the very least make in-fighting fashionable once again.