Suddenly, Robert Guerrero finds himself in a tougher fight than his May 4 welterweight showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. And for this one, he won’t need a good cutman — he’ll need a good lawyer.
Guerrero was arrested Thursday morning at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport after trying to bring a handgun on his flight to Las Vegas. He was charged with one count of criminal possession of a firearm and three counts of third degree criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
After his arraignment Thursday afternoon before Queens Criminal Court Judge Ernest Hart, Guerrero was released on his own recognizance and returned to Las Vegas on Thursday night.
His next court appearance was set for May 14. That will allow him to keep his May 4 date at the MGM Grand Garden to fight Mayweather, the WBC welterweight champion.
Guerrero’s team issued a statement, but the fighter wasn’t talking. Richard Schaefer, chief operating officer of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Guerrero, said the fighter talked to him briefly Thursday and apologized for what happened.
“He felt very bad about it,” Schaefer said. “He didn’t realize he was doing anything wrong. But he didn’t know the different state laws regarding guns.
“As for the legal issues, I believe in the justice system, and when he has his day in court, the judge will see he made an honest mistake and wasn’t trying to do anything criminal. Here’s someone who has lived a clean life, someone who has no criminal record and who has a positive impact on society. But he did make a mistake, and he will have to deal with what comes.”
Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer said the incident will not prevent Guerrero from fighting May 4.
“Nothing I’ve heard regarding what happened in New York would trigger any action by the commission,” Kizer said. “It’s an official matter for New York, and we won’t interfere with the district attorney or Mr. Guerrero’s legal counsel. But we’ll monitor the situation, and if it impacts Mr. Guerrero’s future fights in Nevada, we’ll address it then if need be.”
Guerrero, who turned 30 on Wednesday, had been back East promoting the fight. He made appearances on ESPN in Connecticut and with the boxing media Tuesday in New York, and also appeared with his wife, Casey, on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” TV show Monday in Virginia.
According to a Port Authority Police spokesman, the gun, an unloaded .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic, was disclosed by Guerrero at the check-in counter before he boarded Delta Flight 1429 on Thursday morning for Las Vegas.
The fighter’s gun was in a locked safe box with his luggage, which was to be checked, and he had no ammunition, according to a statement from Guerrero’s team.
Guerrero was taken into custody. He reportedly has a permit for the gun in California— he is from Gilroy — but not in New York, where it is illegal to possess a gun without a permit. Along with the gun, Guerrero had three unloaded high-capacity magazines.
“I hope Mr. Guerrero fights better than he thinks,” Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “For anyone who has not 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.”
Brown referenced New York’s strict gun laws, saying, “If a passenger chooses to travel with a weapon, they should first acquaint themselves with the weapon laws of the jurisdiction they are visiting and comply with any and all legal requirements. Otherwise, they may find themselves being arrested and charged with a felony — as is what occurred in this case.”
Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 knockouts) is coming off an impressive 12-round unanimous decision over Andre Berto on Nov. 24. His fight against Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) is almost sold out.
At the MGM Resorts sports books, the fight was briefly taken off the betting boards, but went back up after it was established that it would go on as scheduled, with no change in the odds. Mayweather is a minus-900 favorite, with Guerrero at plus-600.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.