Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Want a prediction on a lightweight title fight involving Manny Pacquiao?
Robert Guerrero can't see it going past five rounds.
But rather than David Diaz doling out the punishment at Mandalay Bay this weekend, Guerrero says it'll be him -- wherever and whenever he's able to get the Filipino phenomenon into a ring.
"I'd knock him out in five rounds," the 25-year-old Californian said, in a Wednesday evening FitzHitz interview. "He hasn't fought a left-hander like me who can punch and break down his style piece by piece.
"No question, I think he's the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He's beaten the best and he deserves all the credit he's been given. But I still think I'd get him out of there within five rounds."
Tough talk, but it's not as if Guerrero comes in completely without credentials.
A pro since 2001 and a two-time belt-holder at 126 pounds, the southpaw this week announced his intention to relinquish the IBF featherweight championship and move up in weight to pursue big fights at 130 and 135 -- or even 140.
This week Robert Guerrero announced his intention to relinquish the IBF featherweight championship and move up in weight.
And while the move is primarily the result of recent struggles to get his 5-foot-8 frame down to 126, he admitted it also has quite a bit to do with a potential series of lucrative matches with names like Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Joan Guzman.
Pacquiao is fighting Diaz for the WBC's 135-pound title on Saturday in Las Vegas. Marquez is set to fight WBO interim champ Joel Casamayor on Sept. 13. And Guzman will fight Nate Campbell for the IBF/WBA/WBO belts, also on Sept. 13.
All three held pieces of the 130-pound championship in 2007 and all three are title-holding alumni of lighter weight classes as well. Pacquiao was a recognized champion at both 115 and 122 pounds, Marquez at 126 and Guzman at 122.
"I want to go out and get the biggest names, no question," Guerrero said. "There are really no fights left at 126. And it's about fighting the big fights, the marquee fights and the biggest names."
Guerrero, who walks around at 139 pounds, fought at a career-high 129 against 80-fight vet Juan Polo Perez in April 2004 and scored a second-round TKO.
He's fought at 127 four times, most recently for a third-round TKO of Sandro Marcos in May 2006.
His initial IBF title reign began four months later with an eight-round whipping of Eric Aiken in Los Angeles, while his second kicked off with a ninth-round stoppage of Spend Abazi in Copenhagen, Denmark in February 2007.
The lone interruption came when he dropped a decision to Orlando Salido, but the result was reversed and the title declared vacant when Salido failed a post-fight drug test.
Guerrero re-took the vacant crown with the defeat of Abazi three months later and last defended it with an eighth-round stoppage of Jason Litzau in February.
"Just dropping to 126 was enough of a fight on its own," he said. "Just to not have to lose that extra four or nine pounds is going to result in a lot more energy. It puts a lot of extra wear and tear on your body to have to do that.
"Without it, you're going to see a faster, stronger Robert Guerrero."
A few quick thoughts after a whirlwind trip to the Cayman Islands last weekend:
I wasn't sure at first, but I've decided I really liked the outdoor fight venue at the Grand Watler Cruise Terminal in George Town. Something about a between-fights DJ, a steel drum band, fireworks and the tantalizing odor of Caribbean barbecue adds an element to the experience that neither a Jersey Shore convention facility nor a Las Vegas casino can match. Count me in for next year.
Irish veteran Wayne McCullough and his wife, Cheryl, are class acts. Though the 37-year-old "Pocket Rocket" wasn't faring badly at the midway point of his super bantamweight matchup with Mexican grinder Juan Ruiz, they decided in the corner after the sixth that enough was enough, and ended both the fight and, presumably, McCullough's pro career. A wise move in the long run.
Just when I'd relegated Eddie Chambers to the middle tier of the heavyweight ranks, he landed a quick left-right combination that separated Raphael Butler from his senses and me from being quite so sure I was right about where the once-beaten Philadelphian belongs. He'd beat pretender Chris Arreola easily, but if I'm him, I wouldn't go knocking on Wlad Klitschko's door any time soon.
Great to see Thomas Hearns in a ring again, but even better that he wasn't fighting. The "Hitman" has been a favorite of mine since day one, when I wrote a composition for my seventh-grade English teacher about the initial Leonard- Hearns showdown in September 1981. I got an A on the paper and, in red pen on the last page, good old Mr. Rycombel said I "ought to consider doing this as a career."
An undeniably rising star after last Friday night? Andre Ward. Though opponent Jerson Ravelo helped Ward's cause with both a maddening aversion to combat and shoddy footwork, Ward eventually settled in and showed the technical skill and heavy hands that'll serve him well in climbing the ladder at super middleweight. And, because he's also a first-class guy, I'll be pulling for him.
Elsewhere on the Diaz-Pacquiao card, two lighter-weight belts are up for grabs.
Once-beaten California southpaw Steven Luevano risks his WBO 126-pound title for the third time in nine months when he faces Puerto Rican veteran Mario Santiago in a scheduled 12-rounder.
Luevano has been subtly dominant since reaching championship level last summer, when he traveled to England and toppled previously unbeaten Nicky Cook by 11th-round TKO for the vacant crown.
He's since defended twice at Mandalay Bay, defeating Antonio Davis and Terdsak Jandaeng by matching unanimous decisions in which he's taken 64 of a possible 72 rounds on the six judges' scorecards.
The 27-year-old Los Angeles native has won six straight since his lone career loss, which came in November 2005 when he dropped a narrow 10-round verdict to subsequent Guerrero victim Martin Honorio in Bernalillo, N.M.
Santiago, a 29-year-old left-hander, comes in having won 19 of 20 professional outings, including a one-round body shot stoppage of trialhorse Edel Ruiz on Feb. 1.
His only defeat came one fight earlier against Hector Velazquez, who escaped with a 10-round technical decision in a WBC title eliminator after he was unable to continue due to cuts caused by headbutts.
Velazquez led at the time of the stoppage -- 98-93, 98-92 and 98-92.
Santiago has scored his last nine wins by stoppage, dating back to October 2005.
One division higher on the scales, No. 1 contender Humberto Soto and No. 2 Francisco Lorenzo square off for the WBC's interim super featherweight title and to fill the championship void left by incumbent belt-holder Pacquiao's move to 135.
Soto was an interim claimant at 126 pounds after an upset win over Rocky Juarez in 2005, but lost a unanimous decision to Guzman in a try for the WBO's full-fledged belt at 130 pounds in November.
He knocked journeyman Carlos Urias down five times en route to a fifth-round TKO win in his most recent fight, on March 14 in Sinaloa, Mexico.
A 36-year-old Dominican, Lorenzo is a long-time Caribbean title-holder at 130 but has never fought for a world championship.
He's won five straight fights -- all by decision -- since dropping a split 12- round nod to Roman Martinez for the WBO's intercontinental junior lightweight belt in February 2007.
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He provides 'In The Ring' commentary for Speeding Bullet Network (speedingbulletnetwork.com), is a periodic contributor to 'The Drive with Dave Smith' on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.