Robert Guerrero leaves courthouse in Queens, NY
Robert Guerrero had a squeaky clean image until Thursday's arrest in New York on gun charges. (AP)
In the maelstrom of controversy that has plagued professional boxing over the years, Robert Guerrero has distinguished himself as one of the genuinely good guys of the sport.
From putting his career aside to tend to his wife Casey, who was diagnosed with leukemia, to his involvement in several cancer-related charities, the humble “Ghost” of Gilroy has endeared himself to the public in an era flooded with fallen heroes.
And now, with Easter Sunday only three days away, the devout Christian has stepped into the same lion’s den that he has painstakingly made a point to avoid his entire career, as he faces illegal gun possession charges in New York that could send him to prison for up to four years if convicted.
[RELATED: Guerrero faces jail time after gun arrest]
The Queens County District Attorney’s office has set Guerrero’s court date for May 14. Thus, his May 4 Showtime Pay-Per-View showdown with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather is still intact according to his promoter, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
"It was an innocent oversight on Robert's part,” Schaefer told CSNBayArea.com. “I spoke to him on the way to the airport after he was released. Everything's fine, and he's looking forward to resuming training for May 4.”
Ironically, Guerrero’s upcoming foe had a jail sentence from a domestic violence conviction postponed until after his win over Miguel Cotto last May. In fact, Showtime will air a documentary next Wednesday on Mayweather’s two-month stint behind bars.
Subsequently, one has to wonder if the 11-to-1 underdog Guerrero’s unfamiliar experience as courthouse defendant and mounting pressure to win will have any effect on his focus leading up to the bout, specifically considering his bold promises to “humble” Mayweather and the whole boxing world.
“I don’t think this will change Guerrero’s mindset, but you never know. This is just so unfortunate, right before the biggest fight of his career,” said Hall of Famer Don Chargin, a consultant for Golden Boy. “Robert’s such a great guy. I think we have to get all the facts before we draw a conclusion.”
The incident occurred at JFK Airport Thursday morning on the way back to Las Vegas after an East Coast media swing. Although Guerrero was arrested for illegal gun possession in New York, it is noteworthy that he owns a permit to carry a handgun in California, and seems to have gone through the necessary legal channels to repeat the process in Virginia, the penultimate stop on his visit.
Furthermore, Guerrero’s open declaration of the gun and presenting it unloaded in a locked box to an agent at the check-in booth would indicate he was neither trying to hide his ownership of the gun, nor attempting to sneak it on the plane.
Despite his intent, the law is the law, and Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown has chastised Guerrero for negligently failing to do his research before entering the Big Apple, especially in light of recent legislation that has tightened gun restrictions in the Empire State.
“I hope he fights better than he thinks,” Brown said in a press release. “You cannot bring an unlicensed weapon—loaded or unloaded—into this county of city. And if you do you will be arrested and face felony charges.”
Others, however, feel Guerrero was the victim of circumstance.
“I spoke to his dad twice today, and I think he made an honest mistake,” said Salinas-based trainer Max Garcia. “He just didn’t know the law in New York. Politically, they’re going to blow this up more than it is because it’s a high-profile case.”
But what about Guerrero’s squeaky-clean image? Aside from his Twitter account, boxing record, and Wikipedia entry, the latest Google search for “Robert Guerrero” turned up nothing but links to his arrest.
“Robert didn’t do anything wrong,” Garcia added. “He’s too strong mentally, and his friends, extended family, brothers, and in-laws are all behind him. It’s not like he’s on an island all by himself. This is nothing compared to what that kid’s been through and everything he’s done for others, so I think people will still see Robert the same way.”
At the bottom of the Queens County DA office’s press release, it reads that “a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.” While Thursday’s developments will surely bring Robert Guerrero’s reputation under closer scrutiny, it would be premature for the court of public opinion to make its final verdict regarding the way he should be perceived.
“You can bet the farm this won’t distract him one bit,” said HBO ringside scorer Harold Lederman, a member of the New York Boxing Hall of Fame. “When you have the opportunity of a lifetime to fight the best fighter in the world, you won’t have any issues with motivation.”
CSN Bay Area Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and panelist for Ring Magazine’s Ratings Board. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.