By Ron Jackson
Malcolm Klassen faces possibly the toughest fight of his career when he defends his IBF junior lightweight belt against Robert Guerrero at the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas on Saturday night. The 28-year-old Klassen regained the IBF belt in April this year when he stopped Cassius Baloyi in the seventh round.
Klassen 24-2-2; 13 from Toekomsrus in Gauteng and a former South African featherweight champion won the IBF junior lightweight belt when he upset Gairy St Clair of Guyana in November 2006.
However, in April 2007 he lost the belt to South Africa’s Mzonke Fana in his first defence.
After this setback he got his career back on track with inside the distance wins against Edward Mpofu, Pablo Ernesto Oliveto, Joe de la Cruz, Manuel Medina and then in an outstanding performance regained the IBF belt against six time belt holder Baloyi.
The 26-year-old Guerrero 24-1-1-2nc; 17 who fights from the southpaw stance won the IBF featherweight belt in September 2006 when he stopped Eric Aiken in the eighth round but in his first defence was well beaten by the unheralded Orlando Salido who was 27-9-2 at the time.
However, the fight was later declared a no contest as Salido tested positive for an illegal substance.
He then travelled to Copenhagen in February 2007 and stopped Spend Abazi in the ninth round in a clash for the vacant IBF featherweight belt.
After successful defences against Martin Honorio and Jason Litzau he relinquished the belt and moved up to the junior lightweight division.
In 2009 he has stoppages wins over Edel Ruiz and Efren Hinajosa and in March his fight against Daud Yordan of Indonesia was declared a no-contest in the second round due to a cut that Guerrero suffered from a head butt.
The only loss in his career was in his 17th fight against Gamaliel Diaz via split decision for the NABF featherweight title. He subsequently reversed the loss when he stopped Diaz in the sixth round.
Guerrero blows hot and cold as he battles against ordinary opponents but then looking outstanding against good opponents, so depending on which Guerrero gets into the ring on Saturday night Klassen who will be having his first fight outside South Africa could be in for a tough fight.