Robert Guerrero will step into the MGM Grand ring with Floyd Mayweather on May 4, but there is little question about who the star of Saturday's show will be.
Despite turning 36 in February and having not fought in nearly a year, Mayweather is unquestionably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He's atop the mountain, ruling with fists of iron in every figurative connotation imaginable.
The Manny Pacquiao argument? Gone, having eaten the canvas along with Pacman back in December.
And though he's a great fighter who should present a semi-challenge for Mayweather, Robert Guerrero will likely be little more than a roadblock opponent. Little more than a tuneup for the next bout, which may come as soon as September.
All things considered, Mayweather should walk away with nothing short of a unanimous decision victory, assuming the layoff hasn't suddenly made his skills atrophy.
It all feels a little anticlimactic—that is, until we look at the captivating human-interest story happening right under our noses.
Perhaps for the first time in his career, Mayweather is fighting more to win back fans than extend his undefeated streak. Saturday's fight will forever be remembered as the beginning (or non-beginning) of the Floyd Mayweather redemption story.
Though it's impossible to say he had the same cultural impact, Mayweather is very much this generation's Muhammad Ali. As entertaining (if not more so) outside the ring than inside, Mayweather and Ali are two of the best showmen in not just boxing history, but sports period. Mayweather's always-running mouth was only matched by his always-rising bank account, of which he'd be more than proud to show you.
Those facts have made Mayweather both the most loved and most loathed boxer on the planet, bar none.
He is the human barroom argument, with the fervor of his fans and the disdain of his detractors strong enough to build an individual partition in the establishment. Mayweather doesn't show up on things like Forbes' "most disliked athletes" mainly because his admirers are higher than any other athlete in his sport.
But much like Ali in his prime, Mayweather is the very definition of polarizing. You won't find anyone remotely into the sports world who doesn't have an opinion one way or the other. That level of fame has made Mayweather one wealthy man. It also has a downside that he's only continuing to find out about heading into Saturday's fight.
Since the last Cinco de Mayweather, the pendulum of public opinion has swung far in the negative realm.
See, like Ali, Mayweather ran into law trouble as champion. Unlike Ali, Mayweather's were from a count of domestic violence rather than the refusal to fight in a war.
Stemming from a 2010 case, Mayweather was sentenced to a 90-day jail stint after hitting his ex-girlfriend, Josie Harris, and threatening their two children—and this wasn't his first. Though he was eventually released for good behavior, Mayweather did little to atone for his actions post-jail.
When released from prison, Mayweather said nothing.
There was no public graveling or decry that he was a changed man, ready to repent for his violence against women. There was no Oprah, or Katie Couric, or Dr. Phil or any other comfy daytime couch that he sat on, cried and did the whole "forgive me" thing.
One of Mayweather's first notable post-jail headlines came from a feud with rapper and former friend/business partner 50 Cent, which is still ongoing. Though the public mostly wrote it off as a publicity stunt, the "beef" was typical Mayweather. He was keeping his name in the public eye, but only in a way that befit his persona.
The mentions of his abuse trial were sparse and left to be forgotten. Josie Harris even spoke to TMZ in November and essentially let Mayweather off the hook for the whole fiasco.
"S**t happens," Harris said. "I'm not mad at him at all...I love Floyd to death. [Floyd] loves his kids and is a great father. He would never do anything like that again...I'm sorry the situation happened...now we will just progress and start over and move forward together."
Mayweather's code of silence did take some of the initial scorn off of him, and he eventually called jail a "life-changing experience" in 30 Days in May, a Showtime documentary.
But forgiveness is far different than people pushing something out of their mind. The fact is that Mayweather is still dealing with his black-cloud personal history, so much so that some are even worried about how this fight will sell.
It's a history that Guerrero's father, Ruben, made sure the press realized earlier this week.
"We're going to beat up that woman-beater, the one that beat up his [wife] in front of his kids," Guerrero said (via The Guardian). "He must have learned that from his dad. We're going to beat that woman-beater and see how he's gonna like it, and he's gonna get it from a real man."
Warning: Video below contains NSFW language.
We've seen throughout history that fans are quick to forgive greatness. Michael Vick became beloved in Philadelphia during his fantastic 2010 season. And when he became reviled in the City of Brotherly Love last season, it was due to performance issues—nothing stemming from his dog fighting conviction.
There will be some who (understandably) never forgive the Mayweathers and Vicks of the world. They view the transgressions of Mayweather and Vick as too heinous to forgive, carnal sins that make them unworthy of the hero-worshipping sports public.
And there is more than a little irony to Mayweather ingratiating himself to the adoring public by stepping into a boxing ring.
Here is a man vilified for his violence against women, who can only repent to some by being violent (in a sanctioned setting) against another human being. It's the fundamental coding problem with boxing, as many have pointed out a supposed link between domestic violence and the sport previously.
But as cliche as it sounds, there is nothing Mayweather can do about his past. What's done cannot be revoked, all simply being part of who he is as a person. It's what Mayweather does with the knowledge of his mistakes that will caramelize his place in history.
It starts with a reminder of why he was so beloved on Saturday. And it ends with Mayweather keeping the violence inside the ring rather than out.
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