Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s long-anticipated return to the ring is finally upon us.
Mayweather will touch gloves with 30-year-old challenger Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas Saturday night, looking to keep his perfect 43-0 record intact.
Guerrero, who is coming off a grueling victory over Andre Berto in November, hopes to test the 36-year-old's age and see whether he's rusty after a year off.
Here's a look at the bout, complete with all the information you need.
Where: MGM Grand, Las Vegas
When: Saturday, May 4, at 9 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Mayweather -800 (via Bovada)
|Floyd Mayweather||Robert Guerrero|
|Grand Rapids, MI||Hometown||Gilroy, Calif.|
|68 in||Height||68 in|
|72 in||Reach||70 in|
|43-0, 26 KO||Record||31-1-1, 18 KO|
What Guerrero Must Do To Win
Test Mayweather's Age
Mayweather is now 36 years old. That's about the time when boxers begin to slow down. That wasn't apparent in Mayweather's spectacular showcase against Miguel Cotto last May, but it's been a year since then. A lot can happen in a year when you are a boxer in his late 30s.
Getting through Mayweather's defense is easier said than done, but Cotto proved last May that it can, indeed, be done. Mayweather is still one of the greatest tactical boxers of his generation—if not the best—but he is aging, and you wonder if his defense opening up a little bit against Cotto was a sign of things to come.
Mayweather's advantage in reach over Guerrero will make it difficult for the challenger to get inside, but he must be a bulldog in this regard. Mayweather rarely knocks people out these days, so testing him in the late rounds is Guerrero's best chance of success. Cotto wasn't able to do this—perhaps, Guerrero will have more success at a younger age.
You can't emphasize this enough. Cotto boxed a smart fight against Mayweather, yet still lost in the scorecards. Mayweather may be slowing down a bit, but he's still one of the most intelligent boxers on the planet, despite what he may have you thinking outside of the ring.
Guerrero won a slugfest with the experienced Andre Berto in November. He connected on a lower percentage of punches, but simply threw more, connecting on 76 more punches (including 72 more power shots).
Simply throwing a barrage of punches isn't going to work on Mayweather. In fact, that's a good way to wear yourself out and not accomplish much in the process.
Guerrero, obviously, needs to be aggressive against Mayweather, but he's going to get picked apart by the counterpunching master if he blindly comes forward. He needs to box much smarter against Mayweather than he did against Berto.
Don't Expect To Pressure Mayweather Into Being More Aggressive
Cotto did something few boxers have been able to do against Mayweather in the 36-year-old's career: Make him a more aggressive fighter.
But don't expect Guerrero to do the same against Mayweather.
Cotto is a more experienced (and smarter) fighter than Guerrero. He fought, perhaps, one of the best fights of his career on top of that. Guerrero doesn't have the experience, smarts or talent to take Mayweather out of his comfort zone.
The irony is, Guerrero has had the most trouble against boxers who have pressured him (Daud Cino Yordan, Orlando Salido, Gamaliel Diaz). But don't expect Mayweather to change his trademark defensive-minded strategy just to gain an edge on Guerrero. He will do what he's always done—stick to his defense and strike back when the time is right.
Guerrero can't go into this fight hoping that his aggressiveness will be returned in kind by Mayweather. That's only going to lead Guerrero into being more aggressive than he should be. There's a difference between testing Mayweather's age and simply being foolish.
What Mayweather Must Do To Win
Stay Off the Ropes
It's hard to see Mayweather losing this fight, but he would be wise to stay off the ropes. Who knows if he will have his legs under him completely after a year off. He's an aging boxer, and he's coming off a long layoff. Those are two ingredients for an upset.
The fact that Cotto landed just 21 percent of his punches against Mayweather last May (including 23 percent of his power punches) is a bad sign for the less-experienced Guerrero, but, perhaps, the time away from the ring will hurt Mayweather.
In any case, staying on the ropes is something Mayweather wants to avoid after a year away from the ring. It's only asking for trouble.
Don't Get Complacent
Guerrero may be outclassed by Mayweather, but he's no slouch, either. His brutalizing of Berto in November was evidence enough.
While Mayweather's defense was once again the X-factor in his victory over Cotto, it's not like he was an offensive dynamo against the Puerto Rican. Mayweather landed on just 26 percent of his punches.
It would be easy for Mayweather to enter the ring without much concern over the challenger, but no challenger comes into a Mayweather fight lazy and unprepared. Guerrero—a much younger fighter—will be looking to make history on Saturday, and you can bet he's going to give his all.
Stick To a Defensive-Minded Strategy
While Cotto was able to get Mayweather to open up a bit and start pressing the action, Guerrero is less experienced and likely won't be able to do enough to pressure Mayweather...unless Mayweather takes the bait.
If Mayweather fights his fight—protecting himself and counterpunching when appropriate—it's going to be tough for Guerrero to win on the scorecards.
Guerrero simply doesn't have the repertoire to break through Mayweather's defense time and time again (if he connected on a lower percentage of punches than Berto in November, what makes you think he will connect on a higher percentage than Mayweather?).
The only way Mayweather loses this fight—in my opinion—is if he's drawn out of his comfort zone and it becomes a slugfest resembling Guerrero's fight with Berto.
Stats courtesy of BoxingScene.com.
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