Floyd Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero: Top Storylines as Welterweight Bout Looms
Undefeated pound-for-pound king Floyd “Money” Mayweather takes on Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero this Saturday, May 4, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The 12-round battle will be Mayweather’s first of the six-fight television deal he signed earlier this year with Showtime and CBS. The bout will be produced and distributed by Showtime PPV.
The burgeoning storylines of this increasingly interesting throwdown will soon burst forth from prefight promise into real-time action on Saturday’s blue canvassed crucible.
Here are the 10 you should know before then.
The Power of Belief
Both Robert Guerrero and Floyd Mayweather believe in their ability to win fights. These guys are world class. One does not get to the pinnacle of his profession lacking a strong belief in what he does and how he does it.
For Guerrero, though, this fight is more than that. The headstrong Christian believes he’s on a mission from God. He stated (via The Ring):
When you believe, amazing things happen. I'm telling you all now that I am going to beat him. I believe God does things for a reason. I believe God put me here to humble Floyd Mayweather, and it is going to happen.
Whether or not the Almighty truly has plans related to the outcome of Saturday night's fight is debatable. What isn't, though, is the power of belief itself.
If Guerrero truly believes his mission in life is to dethrone the pound-for-pound champion, if it galvanizes him to fight better than he ever has before, if he walks through punches that would normally give him stall…who knows what he could pull off Saturday night?
Is Mayweather Still Great?
Mayweather is arguably the greatest fighter of his generation. His star power is undeniable, and he’s remained undefeated in a career that’s spanned five different weight classes. At age 36, he’s still fight pundits' consensus choice for pound-for-pound No. 1, and he’s virtually assured of being listed by historians among the very best fighters of all time.
Still, no one can fight at such a high level forever, and while Bernard Hopkins’ post-40-something success has many fight-game folks rethinking long-accepted age barriers, the grand old master has only proven the existence of an exception to the rule thus far.
In short, if your heart is set on placing a bet on Mayweather looking old and past his prime, get it in soon. It happens to everyone, even the great ones.
How Will Guerrero Attack Mayweather?
Guerrero is more than just a competent professional fighter; he’s world class. The 30-year-old southpaw from Gilroy, Calif., made quite the name for himself during his 12-year boxing career.
BoxingScene.com’s Jake Donovan believes “The Ghost” will be ready for the biggest challenge of his career:
Robert Guerrero has proven throughout his career to be ready for nearly any challenge that comes his way. There were only two occasions where it didn't hold true, and both were erased to a certain degree. His lone loss – an upset split decision defeat to Gamaliel Diaz – was emphatically avenged six months later, while a points loss to Orlando Salido was changed to a no-contest after his opponent tested positive for a banned substance.
But how will a fighter entering the ring for only the third time as a welterweight, match up with the premier fighter in the game? Better yet, how will he attack Mayweather’s stalwart defense?
Conventional wisdom says one must attack, attack, attack the way Jose Luis Castillo did in his disputed loss to Mayweather way back in 2002. But more recently, Miguel Cotto showed success with a sharp, well-timed jab.
Can Guerrero use either (or both) of these things effectively enough to win?
Mayweather Sr. Back in Corner...Is That Good?
A February switch from longtime trainer (and uncle) Roger Mayweather to father, Floyd Sr., could have far-reaching effects. There is no greater sacred space in boxing than a fighter’s corner, where his 30-second refuge from terror is equal parts blood, spit, critical thinking and emotion.
Against Guerrero, Mayweather will see his father there for the first time in 13 years. The turmoil between the two has been well chronicled. During one particularly tense moment of their relationship, the fighter not only blew up on his father in front of the HBO’s 24/7 television crew, but kicked him out of his gym to boot.
Will the same thing happen if he’s having a bad night against Guerrero? Will Mayweather sometimes be wondering what his uncle Roger would be telling him in between rounds?
A distraction like that could put Mayweather in a bind.
Is Guerrero as Heavy-Handed at Welterweight as He Appeared Against Berto?
Color most fight fans shocked last November when Guerrero bashed Andre Berto to the ground in Rounds 1 and 2 of their welterweight showdown. Guerrero was both rough and tough in the tumble. His heavy hands and rock-solid chin carried him to the unanimous-decision victory. It was a gritty win over one of the best opponents he’d ever faced.
Was it an aberration, though, or has Guerrero grown more powerful than ever at welterweight? It’s hard to imagine a fighter who has barely knocked out over half his opponents to date suddenly becoming as rough and tough as he appeared against Berto, but it’s entirely possible.
But maybe Guerrero just had a great night, a one-in-a-million performance. Or maybe Berto had an off night. Maybe he was poorly trained or simply unprepared. Maybe a little of each.
Whatever the reason, Guerrero should hope it truly was a newfound power surge. He’ll need it against an opponent like Mayweather who will likely never simply be out-boxed.
Whoever is going to defeat Mayweather will have to hurt him to do so. He’s simply too technically proficient for anything else.
How Will Mayweather Respond from Long Layoff?
Issues outside of the ring have kept Mayweather—well—outside of the ring. He hasn't fought since May of last year, a unanimous-decision win over the inspired Miguel Cotto. He pleaded guilty to reduced domestic violence and harassment charges last December stemming from a September 2010 incident with ex-girlfriend Josie Harris.
After serving 60 of the 90 days he was sentenced, he was released for good behavior last summer.
While it’s true his career has been riddled with lengthy layoffs since his 2007 knockout of Ricky Hatton, Mayweather was free to do as he pleased during previous rests. This time, his body was rumored to suffer a fair amount of muscle loss during his two-month stay at Clark County Detention Center.
A notorious gym rat, Mayweather was forced to live a mere mortal’s life in prison. Will he fight like one come Saturday? Or has the hard work and dedication he espouses returned him to prior form?
Will Guerrero Be Distracted by NY Gun Charges?
Just last month, Guerrero was arrested in New York while doing some promotional traveling for the fight. While checking in his luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, the fighter advised authorities he had a firearm (which was unloaded and in a locked safe box with his luggage), and that it was ready to be checked.
Guerrero was immediately placed under arrest thanks to New York’s strict gun laws (Guerrero was following what he believed to be legal protocol).
No matter his intent, Guerrero faces up to four years in prison for bringing an unlicensed firearm in to the state, and it has to be weighing heavily on him as the fight approaches.
Can Guerrero stay focused on fighting Mayweather with such a serious and significant burden demanding his attention?
How Will Fighting on Showtime Affect Mayweather?
Mayweather shocked the boxing community by leaving longtime partner HBO and announcing a six-fight mega deal with Showtime and CBS. The deal will allow Mayweather to fight on Showtime up to six times over the next 30 months, and this is the first bout of the contract.
Look, Mayweather likes to impress. Whether it’s throwing money in the air at a club or giving HBO commentator Jim Lampley his Patriots-Steelers divisional playoff pick during his fight against the overmatched Henry Bruseles, Mayweather likes to look like The Man.
When he enters the ring on Saturday, things will be different. Instead of the little nuances he’s accustomed to (Lampley asking him for football picks during the round, Max Kellerman gushing over his brilliance), Mayweather will see unfamiliar faces at ringside. No doubt he’ll want to dazzle them along with other Showtime cohorts in his first major appearance for the company.
It could help him focus and be the best he’s ever been. Or it could be a distraction and make him more vulnerable than ever. Either way, it’s likely to have an effect.
Will Guerrero Stand Tall on the Big Stage?
Guerrero is an accomplished professional. He’s won six alphabet belts in four weight divisions. More importantly, he’s faced quality opposition doing it. He’s beaten notable contenders Michael Katsidis, Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto successively, and he looks to be just now entering the prime of his career.
The problem is simply this: None of what he’s done compares to facing Floyd Mayweather. Sure, Guerrero’s been the lead fighter on prime television cards before against solid fare, but it’s another thing to be the main event on one of the biggest pay-per-view telecasts of the year against the pound-for-pound top fighter in the sport.
Now, we can’t assume Guerrero will fold under the pressure and limelight. Some people thrive in it, after all, and maybe he’s one of those. But neither he nor we will know until the spotlight rests firmly upon him in the center of the ring against Mayweather.
Will he thrive or dive?
Are Fight Fans Still Buying the Hype?
The buzz for any Mayweather fight is big, but something about this one just feels off. Is Mayweather’s popularity with fight fans waning? Showtime doesn’t think so. It just signed the polarizing champion up for the long haul.
Still, it will be interesting to see what happens after fight night. Will Mayweather continue to be a box office smash? Are fight fans still buying into his Money May persona or will Mayweather's popularity soon give way to the bevy of young superstars lying in wait?
Mayweather’s performance against a fighter he should beat in Guerrero will go a long way in giving us the answer. The rest will be told by the box office receipts and total PPV buy tallies.
Mayweather has been the king of the sport since his 2007 win over Oscar De La Hoya. For it to continue, he’ll need to make a statement against Guerrero Saturday night, and in more ways than one.
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