Welterweight Robert Guerrero, who won world titles in two weight classes and fought some of the biggest names in boxing during his 16-year professional career, announced his retirement from the ring on Monday.
"First, I want to thank God for allowing me to have a wonderful career," Guerrero, 34, said in a statement. "I'm a kid from a small town in Gilroy, California, who made it to the mountaintop of the boxing world. When I was a young kid growing up, I always believed in myself, but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a small-town kid like myself would be fighting in front of millions of fans."
Guerrero's announcement came two days after he suffered the first knockout loss of his career, an incredibly one-sided, third-round stoppage to former lightweight world titleholder Omar Figueroa Jr. in the main event of a Fox-televised Premier Boxing Champions card on Saturday night at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
Figueroa (27-0-1, 19 KOs), who was coming off a 19-month layoff, pummeled Guerrero (33-6-1, 18 KOs), who was coming off an 11-month period of inactivity. Figueroa knocked Guerrero down five times, three times in the second round and twice more in the fifth round, before the bout was stopped.
Known as "The Ghost," Guerrero, who won world titles at featherweight and junior lightweight as well as interim belts at lightweight and welterweight, had not looked good in years, as he lost for the fifth time in seven fights. It could have easily been six defeats in that span but for kind scorecards in a 2015 bout with Aron Martinez.
Whether Guerrero was winning or losing fights, a few things were always constant: He gave it his all, made for entertaining fights and showed an enormous heart.
"A boxer's career is a long and tough road," he said. "Many tears were shed, lots of blood and tons of sweat. Many miles were traveled, thousands of rounds sparred. None were easy, and nothing was ever given to me. I earned everything I got the old-fashion way. I never ducked anyone and fought the best fighters in the world. I fought my way through every obstacle to make sure my fans enjoyed every second of every round of my fights."
He won a featherweight world title by eighth-round knockout of Eric Aiken in 2006 and won a vacant featherweight belt by eight-round knockout of Spend Abazi on the road in Denmark in 2007. He made two defenses and then vacated to move up in weight.
In 2009, Guerrero outpointed South Africa's Malcolm Klassen to win a junior lightweight belt but never defended it, instead giving it up in order to care for his wife, Casey, who was ill with cancer, and their children while she went through treatment. She survived, and Guerrero returned to the ring for his biggest, most lucrative fights.
His best stretch was a five-fight period from 2010 to 2012, when he defeated former world titleholder Joel Casamayor, Vicente Escobedo, Michael Katsidis (to win two vacant interim lightweight belts), Selcuk Aydin (to win a vacant interim welterweight title) and Andre Berto in a tremendous battle.
After the brutal fight with Berto, Guerrero was never the same, losing five of his last seven fights beginning with a one-sided decision in a welterweight world title fight against Floyd Mayweather in 2013 in the first bout of Mayweather's nine-figure deal with Showtime. Guerrero would get two more welterweight title cracks, losing a one-sided decision to Keith Thurman in March 2015 in the first PBC main event and a decision to Danny Garcia for a vacant title in 2016.
Guerrero, whose devotion to Christianity is a major part of his life, fought as light as 122 pounds and as heavy as 147, noting that he finished his career "fighting the big guys 25 pounds heavier" than where he started.
"A good friend always told me I was God's warrior, born to fight," Guerrero said. "I enjoyed every minute of every war. I represented my lord and savior Jesus Christ with the bible verse Acts 2:38 on my trunks. If I reached one person and brought that person closer to Christ, then it was all worth it."
Guerrero went on to thank the many people who helped him through his career, including his wife; his father and trainer, Ruben Guerrero Sr., who got him started in boxing, and the rest of his family; longtime co-managers Bob Santos and Luis DeCubas Jr.; longtime adviser Al Haymon, who time and again provided Guerrero with big-money fights and whom he called "the most special man I've ever met in my boxing career and possibly lifetime"; and "all the fans and the community who stuck by my side when my wife was battling cancer. I will never forget the love you showed."