by Tim Harrison
Boxing’s mercurial superstar returns to action on Saturday, May 4 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr., (43-0, 26 KOs) defends his WBC welterweight title against number one-rated and Interim WBC welterweight titleholder, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) in the first fight of Mayweather’s 6-fight, 3-year deal with Showtime Pay-Per-View.
A stacked undercard will open up the night, with the all-action Leo Santa Cruz (23-0-1, 13 KOs) making his jr. featherweight debut against Alexander Munoz (36-4, 28 KOs) in the opening bout. Undefeated Mayweather Promotions middleweight prospect J’Leon Love (15-0, 8 KOs) will take on Gabe Rosado (21-6, 13 KOs), and Abner Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs) challenges Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs) for the WBC featherweight title in his debut at the 126-pound limit.
Mayweather is making his first appearance in 364 days since he won a unanimous decision victory over Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012. With the victory, Mayweather won a share of the junior middleweight crown for the second time in his career. A short stint in jail and a decision to drop back down and take care of a mandatory challenger (for what it’s worth) in the welterweight division forced Mayweather to drop his WBA 154-pound title without a defense. Throughout a long 16-year career, Mayweather has won titles in five weight classes, ranging from 130 to 154 pounds.
Robert Guerrero, with the help of publicist Mario Serrano, has campaigned tirelessly for this fight for the better part of a year. A shoulder injury scuttled a 2011 junior welterweight fight with Marcos Maidana after only three fights as a lightweight consisting of victories over Joel Casamayor, Vicente Escobedo, and Michael Katsidis. After surgery and his return, Guerrero jumped up to welterweight and began his campaign to hit the lottery. Guerrero beat Turkish tough guy Selcuk Aydin in his welterweight debut last July before beating up Andre Berto last November.
As Guerrero came up in the junior featherweight and featherweight ranks, he made himself known for using his height and rather polished boxing skills to beat his opponents. Since his return from shoulder surgery and move up to the welterweight division, Guerrero has reinvented himself in the ring. The Robert Guerrero who beat Aydin and Berto showed himself to be a determined fighter on the inside, willing to do just about anything to rough up and discourage his opponent. He mixes his shots well up and downstairs, and isn’t above holding and hitting behind the head, using his head and elbows, and making things grimy in the trenches. At times he smothers his own punches by being in too close, but he’s become more about quantity than quality. In short, Guerrero is the type of fighter who has multiple facets to his game and he’ll need to put both to work to have any shot at the upset this Saturday.
It should go without saying that Mayweather is one of, if not the best technical fighters in the sport today. From the outside he jabs well, is liberal with his application of a sneaky lead right hand, and he mixes in a left hook lead as well. As a counter puncher he is nearly unrivaled. He will deflect punches with his left shoulder and come back with a right hand that he can throw straight down the pipe, around the guard, or as an uppercut. He can counter with the left hook and roll out to either side and away from danger. The Mayweather of recent days has become more stationary, be it from a choice to be a more entertaining fighter, or from the loss of a step. The knock on Mayweather is that he doesn’t throw a lot of combinations unless pressed.
Customary to the Robert Guerrero we’ve seen most recently, we’ll most likely see Guerrero look to get in close to Mayweather and make the fight rough. Guerrero is at the disadvantage in terms of reach and pure boxing skill, and if he stays outside too long he’ll be picked apart with hard right hands and annoying jabs to the midsection. Against Andre Berto, who chose to try and emulate the Mayweather style of defense, Guerrero had little trouble scoring and getting inside. If he expects the same ease of entry into Mayweather’s personal space he’s in for a rough night. The fight will be close in the early rounds, and Guerrero may even lead by a round going into the sixth. Guerrero’s best bet is to cut off the ring and get Mayweather to move into his left hand, but be ready to use his right hook quite often. From there Mayweather will have found the correct timing to catch Guerrero coming in. And when he doesn’t catch him coming in, you’ll see Mayweather let his hands go and touch Guerrero up when he’s in close range. The final bell of the night will ring with Mayweather having pulled away, leaving a bruised, swollen, and possibly bloodied Robert Guerrero behind en route to a unanimous decision victory.
You can email Tim at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheTimHarrison.
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