Column: Dumb is kind to describe Guerrero's bust
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By TIM DAHLBERG
AP Sports Columnist
Just what Robert Guerrero was thinking remains a mystery, at least for now. He's not saying and, after the bonehead move that got him busted with a gun at a New York airport, that's probably a good thing.
Dumb doesn't even begin to describe packing heat for a trip to the Big Apple to promote his May 4 fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. As tough as the New York media can be at times, it wasn't necessary to bring a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol in case things got real nasty.
The good news is that the Mayweather fight is still on, and Guerrero remains a live dog. The bad news is that the threat of possible jail time hanging over his head may be one distraction too many in a fight where Guerrero must be at his very best.
Forgive Mayweather if he's spent the last few nights at his Big Boy Mansion in Las Vegas laughing with his yes men about the whole thing. He may beat up or berate women if they give him a rough time, but so far he seems to be pretty careful -- with good reason -- when it comes to guns.
The Guerrero camp is doing its best to tone things down, and you have to believe the fighter really wasn't aware of New York's tough gun laws when he packed his pistol -- legally registered in his home state of California -- in a locked box and put it in his suitcase for his trip. That's not surprising because fighters in general tend not to be up on local laws unless they find themselves breaking one.
I mean, the guy told the ticket agent at the JFK airport counter that he had the gun in his suitcase when he checked in. That by itself may keep him out of jail in a state so stringent about gun control that former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress was sentenced to three years in prison for shooting himself with his own unregistered weapon.
At the very least, though, Guerrero ruined a great story line for the bout. He was supposed to be the good guy in this fight, a humble and hard-working boxer who praises God in every other sentence, up against a thug who spent more than two months in jail last summer for assaulting his ex-girlfriend while two of their children watched.
Until last Thursday, he played the role well. I talked to him a few weeks earlier and he was full of confidence that he could handle a big fight and everything that surrounds it.
"I've been preparing for this throughout my career," he said. "I know the media is going to be crazy -- everything is going to be crazy. But I'm ready for this."
Turns out he wasn't quite as ready as he thought. He didn't have enough sense to leave his gun -- unloaded, along with the three magazines he had in his bag -- home, and he didn't have enough sense not to bring a gun registered in California to a state where gun control laws are among the toughest in the nation.
"I hope that Mr. Guerrero fights better than he thinks," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. "For anyone who hasn't gotten the message, let me be crystal clear. You cannot bring an unlicensed weapon -- loaded or unloaded -- into this county or this city. And if you do, you will be arrested and face felony charges."
Unfortunately for Guerrero, the questions he gets over the next five weeks will not just be about how he fought for years to get his big break and now plans to capitalize on it. Writers will want to know what kind of guy packs a gun for business trips as much as they will want to know his plan for Mayweather.
That's too bad, because up until last week there wasn't a lot not to like about Guerrero. This is a guy who a few years back gave up a title because his wife was sick with leukemia and he wanted to be at her bedside trying to nurse her back to health rather than train for a fight.
It cost Guerrero more than a year of his career, but his wife, Casey, beat her disease and is now healthy. He would become a national spokesman for the bone-marrow match organization "Be the Match."
"People ask how are you going to deal with the media this and media that under the microscope," Guerrero told me a few weeks ago. "Nothing compares to the pressure of what my wife went through and standing by her side. Nothing compares to stressing and not knowing what's going on and watching her go through chemo, radiation and bone marrow transplant surgeries."
Maybe not, but facing a possible four years in prison on a felony gun charge with the biggest fight of his career coming up has to come close. The pressure of a big fight is immense to begin with -- especially if it is your first -- and now Guerrero must enter the ring knowing he has a court date in New York just 10 days later.
He was already a big underdog against Mayweather, but at least Guerrero was someone you could root for. Promoters counted on that to help sell the part of the pay-per-view that Mayweather and his bad boy persona can't deliver.
Guerrero's story is still pretty good, but now you have to wonder: Is he the compassionate and religious man who spent all those nights at the hospital, or is he some kind of loose cannon who can't rest comfortably at night without his pistol by his side?
My guess is he's the first, a good man who made a bad mistake. I still believe in Guerrero's upside, but how he handles this in the next few weeks will likely tell the story.
No, dumb doesn't come close to describing what Guerrero did.
But it's a pretty good place to start.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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