By Marc Livitz: Cinco de Mayo weekend is fast approaching and that usually means what it has meant in years past. Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr., who can now truly be the one who sits alone well atop the mythical yet at times nonsensical “Pound for Pound” rankings will be the center stage in Las Vegas. The undisputed king of the boxing box office holds an undefeated record of 43 wins (26 KO’s) and no losses. Forty two have tried and failed. One has tried twice and failed twice.
For the fourth time in six years, Mayweather will beckon waves of boxing fans (and celebrities who simply want to be seen at a globally televised boxing event) to the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue to see the former “Pretty Boy” work his magic in the ring.
His foe number forty four will be Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (31(18)-1-1). Since he signed on with CBS/Showtime Network with what is perhaps one of the single most lucrative contracts in the history of professional sports, Floyd has put himself on a quest to close out his seventeen year professional career with up to six fights in thirty upcoming months. At the age of 36, he has not by any means or in very many eyes cherry picked an opponent for his May 4, 2013 showdown at the MGM Grand. Mayweather, Guerrero and others involved in the upcoming promotion were among those on an international media conference call this week.
Former boxing great and current president of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya expressed his gratitude towards the media who had joined the call and spoke of his upcoming showcase to take place in ten days’ time.
"May Day" is right around the corner. This fight will be for Mayweather’s WBC title as well as the vacant Ring magazine title. There’s only a few tickets left. We also have closed circuit seats at various MGM properties in Las Vegas."
Robert Guerrero of Gilroy, California is a six time, four division world champion (featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight and welterweight). He made headlines in the boxing press last year when he took the giant leap across two divisions (135 lb. lightweight to 147 lb. welterweight). He dispatched of the then undefeated Selcuk Aydin and then moved on to the WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto in separate bouts in July and December of last year.
It was the Berto bout in particular that may have indeed catapulted him into pole position in the Mayweather sweepstakes. "The Ghost" Guerrero briefly spoke of any similarities he saw between Andre Berto and Mayweather as well as addressed Mayweather’s one year absence from the ring (which also included a stint in the Las Vegas jail).
"Everyone is different. They (Berto and Mayweather) can’t compare. You assess your performance from the previous night and you work on it. We’re putting an even tighter defense together for this fight. Everything is ready to go and I’m feeling great", said the Gilroy native.
"He’s (Mayweather) taking me seriously. I put a beating on Berto, so I know he’s taking me seriously. He’s been off for a whole year. It will certainly make a difference because I know his body is shot. He’s going to feel my punches. I’ve taken a year off before and when I jumped right back in with a hard puncher, I could feel the punches and they felt a lot harder. I will go after him from the very beginning. I just have to be smart. Too many fighters go in mad and that hurts them."
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. didn’t exactly hold the same views of his time off from boxing when he commented, "I feel unbeatable. I’m not going into a fight thinking that I’m beatable. I feel that I can adjust and adapt. You don’t just get here by not facing the best competition. I beat everyone I’ve faced. I’ve taken time off. I just call it a vacation."
Will age be a factor on May 4? Some have suggested that Mayweather’s reflexes, footwork and hand speed may have slowed after another year long break as well as the fact that "Money" is on the upward side of his 30’s. A few in the boxing world suggested that Floyd’s most recent bout (May 5 of last year versus Miguel Cotto) showed that he wasn’t as quick as years past. "
"The Ghost" Guerrero didn’t agree with such an analysis.
"Styles make fights. I think Floyd didn’t take Cotto very seriously. Still, he made the adjustments and got the job done. If he is slowing down, then his “slower” much quicker than just about everyone’s “faster” out there."
Robert believes that Mayweather has done his best to select his opponents and at times gone outside the established norms of fighting in order to create his own. Floyd famously returned from his two year retirement and faced Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez in September 2009. He failed to make the contracted weight and instead chose to pay a fine. Two years later, he famously knocked out Victor Ortiz in the fourth round after an Ortiz head butting incident led to Mayweather connecting with a thudding two shots to the head while referee Joe Cortez was distracted. Robert briefly spoke of the boxing life and times of his opponent.
"His year off and time in jail will have taken a toll on him. Until you get into the ring and shake it off, there is always that ring rust to worry about. He’s handpicked guys after he’s taken time off. Juan Manuel Marquez was so much smaller and Floyd didn’t even make weight. He took out Victor Ortiz and if you’re the best, then you shouldn’t have to win that way."
Floyd had his own opinions concerning Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero’s rough house tactics and newfound desire of trash talk of which he has gained some boxing notoriety when he commented, "Miguel Cotto has a lot more experience than Guerrero and our fight was a super middleweight against a welterweight. Cotto is a much bigger puncher."
"He’s (Guerrero) flat footed and more like a grappler than a boxer. I’ve been facing guys forever. He’s my mandatory challenger for my WBC title. I like him and I think he’s a nice guy. When he’s been face to face with me, he hasn’t said anything. He’s a tough, young competitor. He talks a good game and we’ll see if he can fight as well as he talks."
Robert knows that Mayweather, Jr. often finds success with his previous foes before they even set foot in the ring.
"Floyd is going to be Floyd. He likes to get under your skin but it hasn’t worked. He knows he’s in for a tough fight. I’m coming to fight as always. He’s not getting under my skin. I just want to be the best in the sport. This is the guy and he’s the man to beat. If you beat him, then you’re on top. I have two fights at 147 pounds and he should have called me out earlier. I’m a solid 147 pounds now."
Robert’s wife, Casey is a cancer survivor whose treatment forced Guerrero himself to take a break from boxing from April 2011 to July 2012.
"This is my chance to get to the top. I feel no pressure at all. Being by my wife’s side while she was fighting cancer – now that is pressure.", said Guerrero.
Floyd added his thoughts involving his desire to stay at the top of the sport as well as maintaining his level of fitness when he added, "Lots of fighters are content and happy with getting to the top. I can never be happy. I have to continue to try and grow and get better. I never abuse my body with alcohol or drugs. My weight stays around 147. This is a year round sport and I’m dedicated to it."
As previously mentioned, Mayweather is quick to remind all that nearly four dozen opponents have tried to defeat him with various methods in the ring and all have found their gloves to be on the losing side. Robert feels that he has the necessary means to crack the Mayweather code. Although the talk may sound like a broken record, as so many have previously claimed to have the secret, Robert let his thoughts be known.
"This will be a lot different for him. A lot of people underestimate how strong I am in the ring. A strong body, fast hands, skill and talent will be the game changer for me. I have been in with so many different styles. Brawlers, punchers and boxers."
Floyd commented on his undefeated record and what he thought of his opponent as he said, "He looked good in his fight with Andre Berto. He fought hard and did what he had to do. Everyone has the same game plan. Throw a lot of punches and keep the pressure. None of it has worked. You can’t go into a gun fight and think that you won’t get shot. He has a 15 shot pistol and I’ve got an Uzi."
Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero is a well documented and highly spiritual man. He often criticized Mayweather over Floyd’s flamboyant lifestyle and flashy tendencies outside of the ring. "Money" Mayweather had his own thoughts on this matter in the wake of Guerrero’s recent arrest in New York after he attempted to board a plane with an unloaded gun.
"He keeps saying that money is my god and that I pray to money. This is not about religion. This is about two fighters testing their skills against each other. I support different causes and I give back to the less fortunate. I have nothing to say about his religion", said the undefeated and five division champion.
"Then he showed up at the airport with a gun. He was joking about me going to jail and now he may have to do time. We all make mistakes and no one is perfect."
Floyd is likely highly favored to win his upcoming bout, yet he is not looking past Robert Guerrero. Said Mayweather, "I have 5 more fights after this one and I’ll just continue to put the stamp on my legacy. I have no specific opponents in mind. I’m looking at one fight at a time. After Guerrero we can look to fighting again in September."
His family drama (as HBO’s "24/7" and now Showtime’s "All Access" has led us to believe) is one of reality TV lore but Floyd has now re-enlisted his father (Floyd, Sr.) to work his corner. His uncle Roger Mayweather had been his trainer in the past.
"My dad and Roger are boxing wizards. I didn’t fire anyone. My dad is a lot healthier than Roger right now. I need the guidance in my corner. Roger still works with me every day. On fight night, my dad will be in my corner. My main focus is to stay in the gym and keep on improving."
April 24, 2013