After a long, drawn out negotiation, Floyd Mayweather finally has an opponent for May 4. He'll be facing WBC interim welterweight champ Robert Guerrero, who is coming off two impressive victories against Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto.
It's a really good matchup. Guerrero showed against Aydin and Berto that he's a legitimate welterweight, which some doubted considering he was fighting at 135 pounds less than two years ago. Guerrero hasn't lost since 2005, and that was by a single point on the scorecards.
Simply put, he's an excellent fighter and is in his absolute prime at age 29. He's shown a mauling, brawling style that was very effective against Berto, and could prove to be very effective against Floyd Mayweather as well.
He deserves the shot at Mayweather and the payday that will come along with it.
So, given the title of this article, why will the referee make a big difference in this fight?
It's a simple answer. If a referee is selected who doesn't let Guerrero get away with his borderline illegal tactics, he'll stand little chance. Against Berto, Guerrero was holding him with one hand behind the shoulder and neck and pelting him with the other, along with a host of other "dirty" tactics.
That's a quasi-legal method that Lennox Lewis used to use. It's highly effective, especially against a slippery opponent like Mayweather. But if a referee like Kenny Bayless is selected, Guerrero won't be allowed to work like that.
Bayless is an excellent referee, but he's very firm with the rules and there's no way he'll allow Guerrero to get away with stuff like that, it simply won't happen.
As we saw when Mayweather fought Ricky Hatton in 2007, Floyd can be bothered by a mauling style. But referee Joe Cortez stopped allowing Hatton to maul and brawl, which led to his downfall.
The ideal selection for this fight would be Steve Smoger. There's a fine line on the "holding and hitting" rules, which Smoger perfectly enforces. Being that he's unlikely to get the assignment, I'm hoping Tony Weeks gets the call.
Weeks refereed Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto and did a great job. He let them fight on the inside, and the result was a great fight. For Guerrero's sake, he needs Weeks to get chosen for May 4, and his team should push strongly to get him in there.
And just a side note on illegal tactics and refereeing in boxing: I'm a Mayweather fan and I love what he does in the ring, but he never gets warned for all the illegal things he does in the ring. He pushes off with his foream constantly, and uses his elbows to push his opponents' arms out of the way, or to position them the way he wants.
Adrien Broner does the same thing. It's kind of like how NBA referees don't seem to call travels or fouls as heavily against LeBron or Kobe. No one wants to see the superstars lose points in a big fight.
Anyway, I digress. Here's hoping for a great fight on May 4.