Often, in defending the sport of boxing against those who see it as pointless brutality, I point to the multitudes who have been lifted up by the sport. On an annual basis hundreds of children in the United States and thousands worldwide find the gym, lace up the gloves and find a positive outlet, a way to escape the lure of the street and instead focus on a meaningful goal. Yes, I concede that the road they have chosen isn't without bumps. But, as I heard Jim Lampley of HBO say once, do the people calling for the abolition of boxing think working in a coal mine for 40 years doesn't do things to a person's body, long-term?
I was reminded of the uplifting nature of the sport when talking to Fernando Guerrero (25-1 with 19 KOs; age 26; sole loss to Grady Brewer in June 2011, has won four straight against B or lower grade opposition) who fights WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin at Barclays Center on Saturday night, in a bout to be shown on Showtime.
Guerrero told NYFightblog that he came to the US from the Dominican Republic in 1995, with his parents. "My dad brought us here to get an education, to better ourselves," he said. They settled in Salisbury, Maryland, a community Guerrero is proud to be part of. "The most famous person from Salisbury is that woman from "The Terminator" (Linda Hamilton)," he said. "I want to beat Quillin and represent all the people touched by poverty."
Young Guerrero grew up poor and didn't truly realize how much so till he came here. Without shoes in DR, he came to America, and realized what was missing. He's hoping a win over Quillin sends a jolt through his homeland. "In the Dominican Republic, it's all about baseball, they've never had that person to idolize in boxing. I want to be the Sammy Sosa of boxing."
The left-hander Guerrero took some hits on the message boards that he got this shot not because of his talent, but who he knows. He's repped by influential advisor Al Haymon; I asked Guerrero if that line of thinking insulted him. "Those people are opinionated," he said. "I'm not a matchmaker. I'm trying to do my dream. Whoever they put in front of me, let the best man win."