For the first time in nearly a year, Floyd Mayweather Jr., arguably the greatest boxer in the world, will step into the ring to defend his WBC welterweight title. One of the most divisive figures in all of sports, Mayweather has a knack for keeping his name in the press.
Whether he's winning enormous sums at the sportsbook or being led away in handcuffs, everything "Money" does is news.
His opponent, on the other hand, is a virtual unknown outside hardcore boxing circles. But that doesn't mean Robert Guerrero isn't a fighter worthy of your attention or that this isn't a fight worth watching on Saturday night.
If you have plans to check out the fight at a bar or a house party but haven't kept up with the latest in boxing and need a little help keeping it all straight, this guide is perfect for you. Bleacher Report is here to fill you in on who is who and the backstory you need to know to enjoy the show.
Here, all in one handy place, is everything you need to know in order to get the most out of Mayweather versus Guerrero.
When: May 4, 9 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada
How to Watch:
Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. is the highest-paid performer in all of professional sports, earning an estimated $85 million for fights against Miguel Cotto and Victor Ortiz. A second-generation star who was groomed from an early age by his father and his uncle, Roger Mayweather, Floyd has been boxing royalty since beating Oscar De La Hoya in the most successful pay-per-view of all time in 2007.
Mayweather is a defensive stylist, an accurate and smart boxer, but not one known for his power punching. Six of his last eight wins have come by way of decision, including his most recent win over Cotto last year. His game is built on speed and deception. Mayweather, now 36 years old, punishes even the smallest mistakes, making his living off frustrated fighters that succumb to impatience.
So far, he's a puzzle no opponent has been able to solve.
"There's not a blueprint on how to beat Floyd Mayweather," Mayweather told the world with a smirk on Showtime's All Access.
Forty-three have tried, and 43 have failed to beat a fighter who believes he is now competing for his place in the history books.
Robert Guerrero is an opponent's worst nightmare, a hard-punching southpaw who will track you down wherever you go, corner you and unleash hell. Fast and powerful as a featherweight, the power in his left hand seemingly hasn't joined him on his journey up to welterweight.
Guerrero has scored just two knockouts in nine fights since moving out of the featherweight class. This, after notching 16 of his 22 career victories by way of stoppage when competing at 126 pounds.
Though a full 21 pounds heavier than he was at his most successful as a featherweight, Guerrero surprised many with his success in the welterweight class. In November, he handed the highly regarded Andre Berto just his second career loss, closing both of Berto's eyes on his way to a unanimous decision and a lucrative payday against Mayweather.
This fight is a contrast not just of styles, but of lifestyles. Robert Guerrero is red-state America—a four-wheel-drive-mudding small-town guy who just happens to be a championship-level boxer.
He's the simple life. He's unheralded, unsung and waiting for his shot at the spotlight. Despite six world titles in four weight classes, Guerrero could walk down the street in Anytown, USA, without drawing a single stare.
In short, he's not Floyd Mayweather.
Mayweather is conspicuous consumption. He's a man who wears enormous diamond cuff links on national television—and somehow makes them work without looking ridiculous. A man who thinks nothing of arranging a private jet in order to take his entourage on a shopping trip.
He's recognized everywhere he goes, in part, it seems, because of his enormous crew and penchant for having his own name and logo emblazoned on everything from his vehicles to his clothing.
While Guerrero plays with his kids in a modest California home, going to little league games and teaching his son to lay rubber on his bike, Mayweather rents out an entire movie theater in Las Vegas so he and his daughter can enjoy a film in solitude. His wealth and lifestyle are unfathomable to most Americans—part of the fun in watching his always-compelling reality shows, first on HBO and now on Showtime.
Both are family men, though in different ways. Mayweather keeps a ragtag group of family close, most prominently his father and Uncle Roger. While he and his father have often been estranged over the course of Floyd's professional career, Floyd Sr. has taken Roger's usual role as head trainer, for this fight at least.
Guerrero, too, is trained by his father. And while Ruben Guerrero has been a media godsend, challenging Floyd Sr. to a fight and mocking Floyd Jr.'s decision to do his jail time in protective custody "with the snitches," his is not the Guerrero family's most compelling story.
Robert stood by his wife Casey during a lengthy battle with leukemia. She's in remission now after a bone marrow donation helped her beat the odds and cling to life. A religious man who had his fists blessed by a preacher in the days leading up to the fight, Guerrero is supposed to be the white knight, the hero to Mayweather's villain.
But real life interceded, knocking that reality television-ready storyline out cold early in the fight's build. On March 28, Guerrero was arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, attempting to bring a Smith and Wesson handgun and three 15-bullet clips on to a Delta flight bound for his Las Vegas training camp. The weapon, legal in his native California, was not licensed in New York, which recently enacted stricter gun laws.
“He was trying to do the right thing, the poor guy,” a law enforcement source told the New York Daily News. “The cop had to arrest him. He had no choice. Now it’s up to the DA.”
He's been charged with one count of criminal possession of a firearm and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
"We’re all hypocrites. Everyone," Guerrero told the press. "If you’re a perfect person, you wouldn’t need Jesus Christ."
Ironically, a prison sentence would finally give Guerrero and Floyd something in common. Mayweather spent two months in jail on a domestic battery charge last year, a sobering experience for the fighter who was removed from the regular inmate population for his own protection.
"Being in jail, it gave me time to just reflect on my whole life," Mayweather said on All Access. "I was locked in a box. Mentally, it made me appreciate my family. Tough times don't last. Tough people do."
What to Expect
They call Guerrero "The Ghost" because, as a young fighter, he was so fast it seemed like opponents couldn't even see him in the ring. He was just a blur.
Of course, there's fast, and then there's Mayweather fast.
But while acknowledging his opponent's reputation as a defensive genius, Guerrero doesn't believe Mayweather is unhittable.
"(Mayweather) knows deep down in his heart that his legs are a little slower. He's not moving the way he used to move," Guerrero said on Showtime's All Access. "He knows."
Younger, stronger, faster. Guerrero is hopeful all those adjectives will apply. He wants to pressure Floyd, to break him. And while Showtime could hardly promote Mayweather's six-fight tenure with the company as a battle with the clock and the calendar, the subtext of this and every fight until he retires will be his battle with Father Time.
There is a target on his back, and every great young fighter will want to be the Timothy Bradley to his Manny Pacquiao.
"We’re going to go after him the whole fight," Guerrero said. "Whether the fight ends early or if it goes 12 rounds, we’re going to go after him the whole fight."
Mayweather, for his part, has been listening to opponents talk tough for a long time. And as he told the media:
Like I always say for every fight, everybody had a game plan. All 43 of my opponents had a game plan and all 43 opponents came up short. So, I could care less what my opponent has to say. There isn't a blueprint on how to beat me. No one has found a way to break the Mayweather code.
For all the talk of his technical ability and style, Mayweather is actually an awkward fighter for most opponents.
On the inside, he's a great fighter, one who knows all the tricks. Every opponent comes looking to pressure him and force him into fighting in close quarters. He's usually more than happy to oblige, incorporating strange angles and unusual timing, constantly leaning and deflecting punches with a simple shrug of his shoulders or an exhausting clinch game.
It's hard to pick against Floyd. If past is prologue, he will win; he always does. But Guerrero is a live dog. He's a tough fighter, one who just might have the mental discipline to push past his inevitable mistakes and keep pressure on Mayweather for 36 minutes.
This, despite Guerrero's relatively low profile, may end up being a very interesting fight.
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