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Prospect Spotlight: Middleweight Fernando Guerrero.

The middleweight division is on the way to a rebirth. Young middleweight fighters like Peter Quillin,  Daniel Jacobs, Edwin Rodriguez and now Fernando Guerrero, are storming to the top of the division, one KO at a time. Anyone watching ESPN’s Friday Night Fights on February 6th, saw Guerrero not only take care of business with a unanimous decision victory over Gabriel Rosado, they also saw a love affair between the fighter and his hometown of Salisbury MD. This Saturday night Guerrero, 15-0 (13), goes for his first title, taking on Ossie Duran, 23-7 (9), for the interim WBO NABO middleweight title, in Salisbury Maryland .

Fernando Guerrero took a few minutes out of his training to speak with Convicted Artist Magazine about this fight and his future.

Bob Carroll (BC): Fernando, you were born in the Dominican Republic . At what age did you come to America ?

Fernando Guerrero (FG): I was 9 years old when my family came to the USA .We went to Buffalo NY and it was the first time I saw snow. What a difference from the Dominican Rep.

BC: Your full name is Fernando Guerrero De La Cruz. What made you drop the last part?

FG: My family just used Guerrero so I did the same, I don’t know why.

BC: What type of amateur career did you have?

FG: I had a very good amateur career. I had 140 fights and won the USA National in 2007; I won a silver medal at the National Golden Gloves and won the worlds Championships as a Jr Olympic at 16. I went to the Canada duel and won twice in one week against their Olympian. I also had some things that I had to work through.  Due to a rule change I could not compete in the US Jr Olympics and had to compete as a Dominican, even though I was still in the US and with my same coach and all. But then I had a long drawn out process to get my citizenship, so I could compete in the open National Tournaments. I missed a couple years of getting that experience, but looking back it just made me stronger.

BC: Not that you are anywhere near an advanced age, but as a child, did you look up to any certain fighters?

FG: I always liked Oscar and Tito, but there are so many great ones I like to watch and admire. How can you not like Ali, Joe Lewis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard?  So many great ones!

BC: You turned pro in December of 2007 and fought twelve bouts in one year. Is this a pace you want to keep as a pro?

FG: I liked keeping busy and was proud that I fought 12 times in 12 months. A lot of things played in to that decision. Being with Prizefight Promotions gave me the opportunity to fight that often. They were willing and able to keep me that busy. Being able to win fights without going into wars or ending them in early also played into it. Basically I will fight whenever, but I let my manager make those decisions. He knows every aspect of what I need and what I am capable of. They were 4 rounds starting out and I know it’s not reasonable to keep that pace when you are fighting 8 or 10 rounds and fighting tougher fights. I do like to be in the ring whenever I can.

BC: Although your first six or seven bouts were against guys who maybe considered lesser opponents, you quickly switched gears and started to take on much tougher opponents at an earlier time of your career than most fighters. Was this a management thing or did you just tell your handlers you wanted better opposition?

FG: My manager Hal Chernoff has been my coach since I started boxing. He is a really smart person and has taught me so much about many things. He knew when to let out the reigns so to speak and pull them back when he needed to. He seemed to always know what to say to make me understand a situation. I trust him completely to make those decisions. But even then he’ll talk with Barry Hunter, so I have two very good people that are working close to make the right decisions. They weigh out everything and take everything into consideration.

BC: The first time I saw you fight was on ESPN against one of my hometown guys, Gabriel Rosado. You won that fight by UD, but what really stuck with me was the love that your adopted hometown of Salisbury , Maryland had for you. You are a real celebrity there. Why did you select Salisbury to be your home base?

FG: This is just where my family wound up living and it has been the hometown of

my coach for many years where he runs the Main St Gym . I didn’t pick this town it

just happened. This is where I grew up went to school, wrestled and boxed.

BC: You are 15-0 at age 22, quite an accomplishment for any fighter, let alone someone as young as yourself. When you started out as a fighter, did you envision yourself in the position you are now at such a young age?

FG: I had no idea that where I would be or what I would be doing. It was later in my amateur career that I started to think about a pro career. My coach always told me I had the potential go far if I chose, but he never tried to force me, in fact he would say make sure this is what you want to do.

BC: I am very jealous of your accomplishments at your age. Is there anyway we could swap lives and ages for at least one day?

FG: What did Paul Newman said in, Cool Hand Luke, “Stop feedin off me! Go out there and find it yourself.”  What a great movie.

BC: On the tenth of October you take on your toughest opponent to date, Ossie Duran. How much do you know about Duran?

FG: I know all I need to know.  I think it is more important that I know myself than Ossie.  Coach John Wooden use to tell his UCLA Bruins “ We don’t adjust to anyone, they try to adjust to us”.  In some ways that is  true, you can do too much adjusting , I mean if a guy is tall or has basic style you practice for that, but not to the point that you think you have to change so much you are out of your own game

BC: This fight will be for the WBO NABO middleweight title, your first belt. Do you feel any added pressure in this bout being that it is for a title?

FG: Do I feel added pressure because it’s a title?.  If  I think pressure will help me, I will decide to use it.  My coach reads a lot about great coaches and athletes form a lot of sports. The great ones learn to take control and not let pressure change their game. That’s what I try to do. If  do anything that someone could say is added pressure I just train harder.

BC: Do you feel that Duran is any threat to not only win the belt, but also be your first loss?

FG: Everyone you step in the ring with is a threat. In the pros the gloves are small and everyone can hit hard. The wrong thing at the wrong time and anything can happen. I don’t take anyone lightly.  Ossie Duran is not coming here to let me put on an exhibition in my home town, he coming here after the same thing I’m after. That’s what makes it so good.  The minute you take some lightly you work your hardest and you won’t have you best stuff to

work.

BC: What type of fight can the fans of Salisbury Maryland expect on October tenth?

FG: The fans that come out for this fight are going to get their moneys worth for sure. From my side all I can say is they know how I fight and they will see the results of  some of  my best training. I want to put a show on for them. They also will see my brother Alexis in a rematch and he always gives 100%. He has been working hard and wants  to show his stuff. Then we have Ty Barnett and he is  perfect for fight fans. He hits hard and  puts it all out there. So not only will the see a great main event , they will see a great boxing show. I am proud that we can do that in my hometown.

BC: The super middleweight division is in the midst of a revival, with fighters like Carl Froch, Andre Ward, Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham all near, if not at, the top. Do you feel that you can break through as another star in this division?

FG: I fight at middleweight. The few times I fought up in weight it was because guys were bigger and heavier. They wouldn’t come down to 160  so It made no sense to go down in weight for a bigger guy. But a few people thought I moved to super middleweight because of that reason.

BC: Is there a fighter in the division that you feel is suited to fight you and your style?

FG: I don’t think about who is suited for me . but I do think about who I will have to fight to get to the top. I’m not looking for tailor made opponent for me. Just to be able to handle whoever I have to deal with.

BC: What are in the plans for Fernando Guerrero in late 2009 and early 2010?

FG: My plans for 09  and 10 are to stay on course and continue good training and  taking care of whoever is put in from of me. So far the people around me have made good choices so I’m not going to throw a monkey wrench in it  by wanting to change things.

BC: Fernando, you have the floor, what would you like to tell your fans and the readers of Convicted Artist Magazine?

FG: I just appreciate the people that come out and support me when ever I fight. I appreciate when I see someone in the mall and they say hello or ask me to sign something. They give me so much that all I want to do is give back to them . Someday I hope I can help a lot of kids like my coaches have done. For now I can set an example for them and show them what they can achieve when they live right and work hard. I can show them that being cool isn’t how much bling is on you finger or in your ear or what you drive around in, it’s going after a dream with everything you have. Or at least that how I feel . On October 10th,  I will show them how to win a championship belt!

For ticket information on this fight, call (410) 219-3112. For more on Fernando Guerrero, listen to Bob Carroll, Butch and "THE Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. every Wednesday night on Fightin' Words Radio Show from 8-9pm EST.

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