- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Robert Guerrero announced Tuesday that he has vacated his junior lightweight world title in order to care for his ill wife, Casey, who is hospitalized and battling leukemia.
"It is with great regret that I am relinquishing the junior lightweight championship of the world that I, along with my team, worked so hard to capture," Guerrero said in a statement. "I feel that it is in the best interest of the sport and the fans that I care so deeply for to give someone else a chance to fulfill their dream of becoming a world champion. I am now focused on the love of my life, my wife Casey, as undoubtedly we face the greatest opponent of our life, cancer.
"Whatever the outcome, our faith in Jesus Christ will get us through. Thank you for the prayers and support. God bless."
Casey Guerrero, 26, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007, recently had a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy. She has been at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., for about three weeks. The family expects to know within the next two to three weeks if the treatment was a success.
Guerrero, who has two small children with Casey, had been scheduled to move up to lightweight to face interim titleholder Michael Katsidis on March 27 in an HBO main event. However, Guerrero withdrew from the fight on Feb. 8 because of Casey's illness.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Guerrero family during this tough time," said Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya, Guerrero's promoter. "We respect his decision to vacate his title and will do everything in our power to get him back in for a world title shot when he is ready to return to the ring."
Guerrero (25-1-1, 17 KOs), of Gilroy, Calif., vacated his featherweight belt in 2008 and moved up to junior lightweight last year. He easily outpointed South Africa's Malcolm Klassen in August to claim a world title.
Now, Guerrero has vacated a title for a second time, although under far different circumstances.
"It's a very tough situation, but we felt that rather than hold up the title, let these other guys fight for it," said Shelly Finkel, Guerrero's co-manager with Bob Santos. "When it makes sense for Robert to come back, he can come back at 130 or 135 and we'll work to get him another opportunity."
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.
3hBy Jackie MacMullan