Saturday’s Showtime main event between Robert Guerrero and Yoshihiro Kamegai was overshadowed in the pre-fight hype by Vasyl Lomachenko-Gary Russell, Jr. As an action bout, it was much, much better, one of the best of 2014, and Guerrero came out with the bloody unanimous decision. It was a Fight of the Year candidate, a kind of mirror of last year’s Omar Figueroa-Nihito Arakawa where it was somewhat one-sided between the Japanese fighter and the Mexican-American, but every moment left you impressed with how resilient two human beings can be in a ring.
Whatever notion Guerrero had to use his boxing skills to win, he abandoned in the very 1st round as the two slugged it out. Guerrero’s boxing skills still won him the fight, because he was the better defender and was better at using angles to set up his offense. But Kamegai’s relentlessness dragged Guerrero into an almost pure brawl, and for the most part Guerrero stayed there. At a certain point it became a blood transfusion via violence. In the 6th, a Kamegai uppercut opened a slice along Guerrero’s left eye, which then caused bad swelling, and it was the first round Kamegai won on my card.
Kamegai would go on to win several rounds, just outworking the naturally smaller man (Kamegai is a big welterweight, Guerrero a welterweight who came up from feather) and landing the harder shots. But Guerrero found a burst of energy for the late haul and kept Kamegai from getting anywhere near a draw or win.
Every punch in this bout was thudding. Nobody landed anything glancing. It was toe-to-toe, up-close thrashing in both directions. Usually after a good fight, I feel exhilarated. After this fight, I felt relieved for both men. It was grueling.
Kamegai belongs back on U.S. TV as soon as he wants it. Guerrero, like Devon Alexander on the undercard, reestablished himself in the mix in the deep 147-pound division, after a long layoff following his loss to Floyd Mayweather. Hey, there’s an idea — Guerrero-Alexander?