Floyd Mayweather Jr. has rested most of his sterling career on a defensive-minded, counterpunching style of boxing.
That's why it was surprising when he was more aggressive against Miguel Cotto last May en route to an impressive unanimous decision. Mayweather threw 687 punches in the victory, according to CompuBox (via BoxingScene.com). By comparison, in his previous fight that had gone the distance against Shane Mosley, he threw 477 punches.
But don't expect Mayweather to be very aggressive against challenger Robert Guerrero on May 4 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The difference between Cotto and Guerrero is significant. For one, Cotto is a more experienced boxer, in terms of his total number of professional fights and the quality of the opponents he's faced.
He fought against boxers such as Manny Pacquiao, Mosley and Antonio Margarito before touching gloves with Mayweather last May. While Guerrero is coming off a victory via unanimous decision over Andre Berto, his overall experience doesn't stack up with Cotto's. Berto was his first prime opponent.
Because of Guerrero's relative inexperience, there is no reason for Mayweather to take any chances being aggressive. In all likelihood, Mayweather's defensive style will confuse Guerrero, just as it has so many of his opponents.
There's no reason to believe Guerrero will all of a sudden find the key to getting through Mayweather's defense. Cotto—a more experienced boxer—connected on just 21 percent of his punches against Mayweather.
Guerrero actually connected at a worse percentage against Berto than Berto did against him. While Guerrero ultimately won the fight, his right eye was closed shut by the end of it. If Berto did that kind of damage, imagine what Mayweather—a historic fighter—can do.
It wouldn't surprise me if Mayweather let Guerrero punch himself out in this fight. If Mayweather sticks to his spectacular defense, he'll be able to pick his spots when Guerrero lets his guard down or begins to tire. By the later rounds, I could see Mayweather running away with it.
Guerrero has been rather confident before the fight, seeming to point to an aggressive strategy.
He said of Mayweather, via BoxingNews24.com, "You can see it. Being a whole year laid off, he’s going to feel the punches."
What Guerrero doesn't realize is that he's playing right into Mayweather's hands.