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Mantecan earns Nationals strap
Matthew Guerrero, 13, an incoming 8th grader at Joshua Cowell School in Manteca, earned his first, shiny belt after winning the Junior Golden Gloves Nationals Sunday in Nevada.

Matthew Guerrero hits the books harder than he does his opponents.

By his own admission, the 13-year-old Joshua Cowell School 8th grader is not a heavy-handed puncher, instead using ring smarts, developed skills, natural instincts and athletic ability to outpoint his way to a winning 20-8 amateur boxing record.

Guerrero, who sported a 3.83 GPA last school term, put his knowledge of the sweet science to use last weekend to achieve his greatest feat.
In the Junior Golden Gloves Nationals at the CasaBlanca Event Center in Mesquite, Nev., he won his two bouts via decision for the 13-14-year-old intermediate title belt in the 106-pound division.

“I was a little nervous going into the first fight, but after I won that one I felt confident in the championship round,” he said.

It’s the first of what he hopes is many belts won after falling short in Silver Gloves and local tournaments. He’ll go after No. 2 Aug. 15-16 at the 16th Annual Concord Cup Invitational.

A three-year veteran of the sport, Guerrero trains with Felipe Martinez in Lathrop four to five days a week. He began his young career with Bad to the Bonz Boxing Club out of Modesto before heading to Stockton PAL.

“I’ve just always been a big boxing fan, watching Oscar De La Hoya and all that,” said his father, Rick Guerrero. “When he was little, he and I would always do a little bit of this and that, you know, working on combinations.

“He just kind of picked up on it, and when I took him to the gym he just really got into it and did well.”

Oddly, young Guerrero isn’t one to watch professional fights. He doesn’t draw inspiration from or look up to any particular pugilist.
“I just do it because it’s fun,” he said.

As long as that continues to be the case while he keeps up on schoolwork, his dad is behind him 100 percent.

“There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it,” Rick said. “He’s very hard working and self-motivated. I see some guys pushing their kids, but it’s a hard sport.

“Either you have it or you don’t. I give him his props and support him in any way I can, but I’ve told him that if he ever wants to stop it’s up to him. He loves the sport right now. He does a good job of staying focused on both that and school.”

To contact Jonamar Jacinto, e-mail, or call (209) 249-3538.