Robert Guerrero has been mocked for calling out the best, but he just wants a challenge

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

The reaction was swift, vicious and intense. Robert Guerrero was treated as if he'd first robbed a bank and then mugged a kindly grandmother who was on her way to feed the homeless.

Guerrero had the temerity earlier this year to demand a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Admittedly, the challenge was a bit of a stretch, since Guerrero had only once fought above lightweight and never at Mayweather's weight of 147.

Keyboard warriors let him have it in a venomous assault that is still difficult to comprehend months later.

Fight fans ought to encourage the best to fight the best and applaud its stars who are willing to take risks. Yet here was Guerrero being vilified for publicly wanting to fight the best he could find.

"I took a lot of criticism for challenging him," Guerrero said, chuckling. "It was hard to understand why people felt that way, but they did."

Ultimately, Mayweather chose to fight Miguel Cotto at super welterweight rather than Guerrero, who on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., will meet unbeaten Selcuk Aydin in the main-event of a Showtime-televised card.

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Guerrero has held belts at featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight, but has yet to come close to getting what would be considered a major fight.

He was the mandatory challenger for Juan Manuel Marquez's lightweight title for months upon months, but he spent energy chasing Marquez at the same time Marquez was chasing guys like Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

He similarly struck out on attempts to land fights with Amir Khan, Juan Diaz, Timothy Bradley and others.

"I can't understand why I wasn't able to get even one of them to fight," Guerrero says. "I mean, so many guys talk about being the best and wanting to fight the best and I was there raising my hand saying, 'I'm here. I'm willing. I'll fight you.' But nobody would do anything more than talk. That was pretty frustrating."

In Aydin, he got a guy two weight classes above his own with a spiffy record and a penchant for trash talk. Aydin broke JoJo Dan's jaw in his last outing and has promised to do the same to Guerrero.

Aydin is 23-0 with 17 knockouts and, though not particularly known outside of the sport's small hard-core fan base, has a solid reputation. He's no pushover, which is exactly what Guerrero needed, and wanted.

It's difficult to land a bout with a Mayweather or a Pacquiao under the best of circumstances. It's next-to-impossible with a resume filled with as many unrecognizable names as Guerrero's.

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In his last three fights, he's beaten Olympic gold medalist and ex-world champion Joel Casamayor, former Olympian Vicente Escobedo and ex-champion Michael Katsidis.

But the July 31, 2010, victory over Casamayor in Las Vegas remains Guerrero's only fight above lightweight. A win over Aydin – which is no guarantee – should at least open the doors to the bigger names for Guerrero.

"They tell you you need these big fights to get those big fights, but if no one will fight, what am I supposed to do?" Guerrero said. "I've won titles at multiple weights and proved to the world, I think, that I'm getting better and willing to fight [anyone]. Boxing needs guys to fight each other. If someone fights me, all they have to do is sign the contract. That's how it should be, in my opinion."

Aydin, who has fought the bulk of his career in Europe, isn't a big name despite his record because he's fought a list of even less recognizable names than Guerrero.

But at one news conference, he told Guerrero to "strengthen your jaw," because he planned to break it in a bid to add a bit of spice to the match. He is nicknamed "Mini-Tyson" because he's a pressure fighter and, undoubtedly, will try to impose his will on Guerrero, the smaller man.

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Other than Aydin's almost complete lack of notoriety among American boxing fans, he is the perfect opponent for Guerrero to accomplish his goals.

The burden is now on Guerrero to perform. He's gotten a bigger guy with a glitzy record and has the national television platform to make his statement.

When you call out the bear, you have to be ready if the bear shows up to fight.

"Oh, I'll be ready," Guerrero vowed. "I am excited about the opportunity. He's a tough fighter and brings a lot of pressure. He's a good puncher, but he's beatable. I just have to do what I do best and I'll be fine."

Fine, but not satisfied. Guerrero won't be satisfied until he looks across the ring and sees the face of one of the sport's biggest names.

In the meantime, he'll keep fighting the best he can find and keep calling out the biggest names, regardless of the hostile reaction it might bring.

"If you want something badly enough, you have to pretty much do anything to get it," he said. "If I go out there and keep winning and keep putting on fun fights, it's going to happen for me. It's up to me to make it happen."

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