Guer­rero has to fight for a split de­ci­sion

Former cham­pion gets knocked down in the fourth but lands more to de­feat Martinez.

Los Angeles Times - - WOMEN’S WORLD CUP - By Greg Hadley sports@la­times.com

It was sup­posed to be a re­turn to form for Robert Guer­rero, a rel­a­tively easy win against an un­known to get his con­fi­dence back and put him on the path to a ti­tle fight.

In­stead, it was a 10-round wel­ter­weight war that came down to the smallest of mar­gins, as Guer­rero held on to beat Aron Martinez by split de­ci­sion Satur­day af­ter­noon at StubHub Cen­ter.

The de­ci­sion, which gen­er­ated some cheers but mostly boos from the crowd, came down to judge Jerry Cantu’s 97-92 score in fa­vor of Guer­rero af­ter the two other judges tal­lied the fight at 95-94, one for each fighter.

“I thought I won the fight,” Martinez said. “I thought that one score­card was way out of line.… I’m very happy withmy per­for­mance.”

From the get-go, Martinez (19-4-1) showed he was un­afraid to en­gage Guer­rero (333-1) and go blow for blow. Early on in the first round, he landed a hard jab to Guer­rero’s left eye, caus­ing it to swell sig­nif­i­cantly.

In the open­ing rounds, the two bounced along the ropes, slug­ging it out and land­ing plenty of body shots in equal mea­sure. Any time Martinez ap­peared to gain an edge, con­nect­ing on a com­bi­na­tion or push­ing Guer­rero back, the Gil­roy, Calif., na­tive would bounce back and land enough body shots to even the score.

Then, at the end of the fourth round, Martinez broke loose with a hard left to Guer­rero’s body, fol­lowed by a right hook that sent the one­time world cham­pion to the can­vas. It was the ear­li­est Guer­rero has gone down in his pro­fes­sional ca­reer, but any mo­men­tum Martinez might have gained died as the bell rang be­fore the fight could restart.

“He was com­ing in head­first, an­das soon as he started to do that, it threw me off,” Guer­rero said. “There’s just some­thing about this arena that makes you want to stand there and trade.”

He bounced back in the fifth round to keep things close, an­das the fight wore on, his con­di­tion­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence proved key. While Martinez slowed slightly, Guer­rero con­tin­ued to pep­per him with fewer big hits but a higher vol­ume of jabs. Over­all, Guer­rero threw 571 punches, con­nect­ing on 120 of them; Martinez threw 451 punches, find­ing the tar­get114 times.

“[My cor­ner] wanted me to get on my jab and box a lit­tle bit more, so that’s what I did,” Guer­rero said.

The two box­ers clinched more and more to­ward the end of the fight as they tired, but in the fi­nal round, with the out­come still very much un­cer­tain, both came out swing­ing freely. In the fi­nal 10 sec­onds, Martinez ral­lied a fi­nal burst of en­ergy for a vi­cious body-head combo, but Guer­rero re­tal­i­ated with a few hooks of his own.

Be­fore the de­ci­sion was an­nounced, Guer­rero donned a T-shirt bear­ing the face of a cousin who he said had died ear­lier in theweek.

“This fight, this fight was for her,” he said.

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