Guerrero to headline tripleheader
Robert Guerrero, out of the ring since a one-sided loss to welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May and a subsequent battle with Golden Boy over his promotional contract, has set aside the differences with the company and will return June 21.
Guerrero will face Yoshihiro Kamegai in a scheduled 12-round welterweight bout that will headline a Showtime-televised tripleheader at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
Schaefer said the other two bouts on the card would be former welterweight titlist Devon Alexander facing Jesus Soto Karass in a 10-round welterweight contest and Gary Russell Jr. squaring off with Vasyl Lomachenko for a vacant featherweight world title.
"This has the potential to be one of the most entertaining tripleheaders we have ever put together," Schaefer said. "I think it will provide fireworks."
Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KOs), 31, of Gilroy, Calif., a former featherweight and junior lightweight titlist as well as interim titleholder at lightweight and welterweight, lost to Mayweather 117-111 on all three scorecards last May 4. After making a career-high payday of $3 million against Mayweather, Guerrero unsuccessfully tried to break his promotional contract with Golden Boy. He eventually signed with powerful adviser Al Haymon, who is close with Schaefer, and they have apparently worked things out.
"I talked with Al and we decided that it was in everyone's best interest to have Robert back in the ring sooner than later," Schaefer said. "We worked out a deal for this fight. There is a promotional contract and there is no lawsuit. Sometimes you turn the page and move on. It wasn't a hostile situation. It was like, 'OK, let's get him back in the ring.'
"But Robert will have been out of the ring for more than year and we'll have to see what kind of ring rust he will have, if any. I think the way he is looking at this is that he is starting the next chapter against a guy who has been active and is very exciting. I think it's a very entertaining fight."
Kamegai (24-1-1, 21 KOs), 31, of Japan, fought three times last year and once already this year, although he lost for first time last year, a 10-round unanimous decision in June at the StubHub Center to Johan Perez, who won an interim junior welterweight belt in his next bout.
Alexander (25-2, 14 KOs), 27, of St. Louis, will be looking to rebound from losing his welterweight title to Shawn Porter, who won a unanimous decision in a December upset.
"I think it's a 50-50 fight," Schaefer said. "I have to give it to Devon to take a fight which is really not a tune-up but is a real fight. When Devon has someone as physical as Soto Karass in front of him that poses a real threat."
Although Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs), 31, of Mexico, is 2-2 in his last four fights, he has been in a series of exciting fights and pulled two upsets last year in a decision against Selcuk Aydin and a 12th-round knockout of former welterweight titlist Andre Berto in a fight of the year contender. The losses were action-packed fights against Marcos Maidana (TKO8) and Keith Thurman (TKO9).
"Soto Karass is a tough customer. He knocked out Andre Berto. Everybody he fights, he fights tough," said Kevin Cunningham, Alexander's trainer and manager. "He had Keith Thurman hurt. You gotta be ready when you get in there with a tough veteran like Soto Karass. But Devon is ready to go. He had a minor setback (against Porter). That's what happens. Sometimes you got to have a setback to get your focus back where it should be.
"Devon's dusted himself off and is ready to get back on the horse and get in with the elites of the division. I look at this as a good fight coming off a loss. Devon will have to be on his game."
Schaefer and Cunningham both said that wins by Guerrero and Alexander could lead to a fight between them in the fall.
"With Devon and Robert on the same card it's the perfect set up for a showdown later in the year," Cunningham said. Said Schaefer, "I like the idea of that fight. I like it a lot."
Russell-Lomachenko, which matches former ESPN.com prospects of the year, has been on the schedule for a few weeks, since Golden Boy, which represents Russell, won the promotional rights at a purse bid, beating Lomachenko promoter and rival Top Rank. Golden Boy bid $1,052,000 to beat Top Rank's offer of $1,050,000.
Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO), the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, is due 60 percent of the winning offer ($631,350) with 2008 U.S. Olympian Russell (24-0, 14 KOs), 25, of Capitol Heights, Md., getting 40 percent ($420,900). They are fighting for the 126-pound belt stripped from Mexico's Orlando Salido for failing to make weight for a March 1 defense against Lomachenko, who many consider the best amateur ever. The fight went ahead with Lomachenko, 26, eligible to win the vacant belt, but he lost a split decision.
"We think that Gary is one of the most skilled fighters irrespective of weight class," Schaefer said. "I know that he has been criticized because of the weak opposition he has faced but he is one of the most avoided fighters. It is always a challenge for the matchmakers to find an opponent for him because guys don't want to fight Gary Russell. If he could have, he would have fought a year ago for a world title but we had to move him into position. He has been waiting for this opportunity. This is a big thing.
"Lomachenko one of the most decorated amateurs but the pros are a bit different. It will be interesting. Gary has more experience in the pro ranks but I felt Lomachenko looked pretty good against Salido. He's not taking a step back. He is going right back into the fire, and you have to respect him for that."