As his family munched on slices of steaming Saturday, five-time world champion boxer Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero was autographing posters and talking strategy with fans who had to his .
For Guerrero, meeting his hometown fans face-to-face is an important part of his job.
“Ninety-eight percent of professional athletes don’t come out to connect with their fans,” he said. “For me to be able to come out here and sell tickets to fans, it helps me to not feel untouchable. It helps me stay grounded and stay real.”
The champ is feeling good about his fight against Selcuk Aydin, the No.1 ranked welterweight in the world, though he knows it’s not going to be an easy road to victory.
“This one is big, and it’s more exciting because it’s here at home,” he said. “I’m doing something that’s never been done in boxing by jumping up two weight classes for a title fight. It’s history in the making and the exciting thing about it is having your hometown fans to enjoy it with you.”
Carlos Martinez Sr., 37, of Gilroy said he came out Saturday to support “local boy” Guerrero. He said he bought four “nose bleed seats” and plans to take his son, daughter and brother with him to HP Pavilion for the July fight.
“He’s not only a local but he’s good at what he does,” Martinez said of why he’s a fan of Guerrero. “There’s no one from around here who has done what he’s done. Hopefully, he’s going to put Gilroy on the map.”
Martinez’s son, Carlos Jr., 18, is a boxer himself. He said he’s picked up pointers from watching his hometown hero in the ring.
“I’ve been a fan of his for a lot of years,” he said. “His tracking is spectacular and his counters have perfect timing. He lands every counter jab. I’ve watched his footwork and picked up how to do that better.”
Another fan, Chris Cid, 22, of Gilroy, said his favorite thing about Guerrero is his involvement in the community.
“He attends a lot of fundraisers, which I think is important for someone in his position to do,” he said.
Mario Serrano, Guerrero’s publicist, said about $10,500 worth of tickets were sold by the end of the day and that more ticket selling events—and chances to meet Guerrero—are planned in the upcoming weeks.
Jim Shuster, owner of Dutchman’s, said he's always willing to help out family friend Guerrero, whether by cheering him on at fights or hosting events like this.
“He’s such a humble athlete,” Shuster said. “He’s not walking around with his fur coat saying, ‘Hey, look at me.’ He’s our kind of people.”
No matter the outcome of July’s meeting between the two kings of the ring, Guerrero knows he’s always got a welcoming community to come back to.
“This is probably the best supporting town ever,” Guerrero said. “I can walk around the streets without getting rushed. It’s nice to be treated as just a regular person.”