When Robert Guerrero steps into the ring at the MGM Grand on May 4 against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., he will be facing the biggest challenge of his professional career.
But for the man known as "The Ghost" boxing may provide just a brief respite from the problems he faces outside the ring.
Guerrero was arrested at New York's JFK International Airport for attempting to board a plane while in possession of an unloaded handgun. The offense is significant, as New York has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.
But, for right now, his focus must remain on boxing, even though he is facing potential jail time for the incident (via fighthype.com): "I got to put this behind me and come out here and focus on what I have to do fight night."
Something his opponent knows all too much about.
"When I got locked up and I was doing time in the hole, I don't wish that on my worst enemy. Serving time is not cool to me. Losing your freedom is not cool to me..." said Floyd Mayweather.
Mayweather spent two months in a Las Vegas jail last summer stemming from a domestic battery charge.
Getting to the top of any sport is difficult. But staying there often proves even harder. It takes a commitment, work ethic and drive to remain at the pinnacle.
At 36 years old, Mayweather is without question the best fighter in the sport, but he understands that maintaining that lofty status won't be easy, and sometimes you have to push yourself when you'd rather be doing other things.
It's that drive, and a fierce desire to remain the best, that makes you head to the gym for a 1:00 a.m. workout when you'd rather be somewhere else.
"Do I wanna go to the gym? Absolutely not," said Mayweather. "To be the best you got to work overtime."
For Guerrero to pull the upset he's going to need to be able to hang with the legendary speed and quickness of the pound-for-pound king—not an easy task by any means but one that the Guerrero camp feels he is more than capable of achieving.
In fact, speed was how he earned the nickname "The Ghost. And he will need to be a ghost in order to hang with an opponent who possesses a level of speed, defense and boxing intelligence rarely seen in the sport.
Defying the Odds
Guerrero will enter the ring a heavy underdog in a fight that most expect he will lose.
It won't be the first time, though. While Andre Berto is no Floyd Mayweather, he too was expected to be too good and skilled for Guerrero. But it was Berto who took a 12-round beating last November, losing a unanimous decision.
Obviously this is a performance Guerrero would like to duplicate and he feels he has what it takes.
I'm hungry, I'm dedicated to what I do. Floyd's a great fighter but it's my time now. I'm younger, faster, stronger, very elusive in the ring. We'll finish him, or if we don't, you know, he's going to take a beating throughout the whole fight; break him down put that pressure and just really put it on him.
If Robert Guerrero is reluctant to engage in the type of trash talk that typifies many Money Mayweather bouts, he sure has a passable surrogate in his father, Ruben, who pulled no punches when discussing Floyd's recent stint in jail and his outspoken father.
"He [Mayweather Jr.] talks all big. The word's out there that he was in protective custody. He was in there with the snitches. When you're in there like that man come on, you're not being a man."
But his real venom was reserved for Floyd Sr. whom it would seem he'd like to face on the undercard.
"Floyd Sr. he ran his mouth talking a lot of smack. You tell him we'll take a little walk and handle it like real men. We'll do it out in the parking lot by ourselves. Do I look nervous? I hope not."
The day a Mayweather is at a loss for words has not yet come, and it certainly wasn't gonna be Floyd Sr. who allowed this one to pass him by. In typical fashion he laughed off Guerrero's comments while giving a warning.
"It's a joke to me really. Him talking bout how he gonna whup me. He lifting weights and doing one armed pushups. This ain't about no one-armed pushups. This ain't about lifting weights," said Mayweather, Sr.
"This is about how smart you are. And you ain't smart if you talking about fighting with Floyd Joy Mayweather, Sr. That you don't want. You not smart at all, you dumb."
Age Ain't Nothing But a Number
With nearly a year outside the boxing ring and entering the 17th year of his professional career, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. understands that his time as a fighter is in it's latter stages.
At 36, a boxer's body body simply doesn't respond as well or handle quite as much action as it used to when you were younger. That requires you to adapt, something he says has been important in his training for the fight:
"I'm always gonna work hard but as you get older you have to work smarter," Mayweather said.
But just because he's gotten a bit older does not mean for a second that his trademark confidence, or bravado depending on your perspective, has waned a bit.
"I always find a way to win. Because I was born a winner and I'm gonna die a winner."
Unless otherwise noted all quotes were obtained from Showtime's All Access Mayweather vs. Guerrero Episode Two which aired on April 19, 2013.
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