Guerrero out to ‘humble’ Mayweather on May 4
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Robert Guerrero’s life will never be the same again, and he got the first taste of the ravenous media circus that will soon engulf it ahead of his May 4 pay-per-view extravaganza with Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

“I’m definitely ready for this fight,” Guerrero said during Thursday’s conference call. “Having the right experience and putting God first, with what he put me through physically and mentally—inside the ring and outside the ring—prepares you for something like this. I can’t wait, and it’s time.”

Though his team had been negotiating the fight as early as last November, Guerrero (NorCal No. 3; 31-1-1, 18 KOs) was admittedly on pins and needles until the deal was finally secured on Monday night.  Mayweather had alluded to opting for a fight with Devon Alexander two weeks ago, but it turned out to be merely a smokescreen.

“The family’s excited. I couldn’t be happier,” said Guerrero, a husband and father of two. “This the fight we’ve been looking for and praying for. When you hear all the different names coming up like [Timothy] Bradley and Alexander, you think if this guy’s going to duck me or what?  I’m just relieved everything’s signed and done.”

Now the 29-year-old Gilroy native can focus on the most daunting task of his career—to dethrone Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs), who currently possesses both a full-fledged 147-pound title and the more important crown of World’s Best Boxer Pound for Pound.

Certainly Guerrero earned his shot on the grandest of stages. After dismissing two consensus top 10 welterweights in Selcuk Aydin at HP Pavilion last July and former titleholder Andre Berto in brutal fashion four months later, the South Bay star carved his path onto the money trail.

“People say Floyd’s been picking and choosing his fights. He’s stepping out of his comfort zone and fighting someone who’s earned it,” said Guerrero, who has annexed six world title belts spanning four weight classes (126, 130, 135, and 147 pounds). “I’ve had the right fights and the right opponents, and the right experience. It’s a move he made that’s really going to hurt him.”

As for that aforementioned exacerbated exposure, the fight is headed for Showtime Pay-Per-View, with parent company CBS planning to get heavily involved in the promotion.

A source within Golden Boy, Guerrero’s promotional company, revealed that the fighters might even make a cameo on one of the network’s prime time shows. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will conduct random drug testing on both men. In other words, this particular camp will come with more than a few distractions.

“I already know how I’m going to handle it all, [by] putting Jesus Christ first and keeping my eyes on what I got to do,” Guerrero said. “With all the adversity, all the media stuff, I have to stay humble and stay grounded by putting Jesus Christ first.”

Obviously, Mayweather represents a quantum leap from any of his previous foes, and Guerrero is cognizant that he enters May 4 with second billing on the marquee, with some Las Vegas bookmakers already pegging him an 11-to-1 underdog.

“Odds don’t mean nothing to me, because at the end of the day, you still got to go in there and fight,” he said. “I’m there to take care of business. I’m not there to worry about odds.  It’s great for people who bet. If they bet on me, they’ll make a lot of money.

The last time Mayweather defended his welterweight title, he knocked out Victor Ortiz. When asked to compare why he would fare differently, Guerrero was resolute.

“People say they can beat him, but they don’t think they can beat him,” he said. “I’m 5-foot-9, I’m a true left-hander, not a converted left-hander, I got way better footwork than him, I got better handspeed, I got great punching power, [and] I’ve been blessed with a lot.  I can fight inside. I can fight outside. I’m not one-dimensional, and I have the experience…to be prepared for a megafight like this one.”

The buildup to any pay-per-view event involving Floyd Mayweather is never devoid of drama. In this episode, the eight-time, five-division world champion who calls himself “Money” is coming off his most tumultuous year.

After a decision win over Miguel Cotto that was much closer than expected and raised qualms about whether he has passed his physical prime, Mayweather served a two-month jail sentence for a domestic violence conviction. While in his Las Vegas cell, Mayweather’s condition waned due to his distaste for the food inside and what he perceived to be a lack of opportunities to exercise.

In addition, since his release, he was forced to switch trainers. Due to his uncle Roger’s deteriorating health, Mayweather will replace him with his father, Floyd Sr. -- whom Floyd Jr. dismissed in 2000, partially because of their volatile relationship. Father Time is also ticking on Mayweather’s shelf life; he turns 36 on Sunday, and Guerrero thinks he can take advantage of the circumstances.

“Definitely, he’s ripe for the picking, and he’s been out for a year, and that does take a toll on everybody, whether they say it doesn’t or does,” Guerrero said of Mayweather. “It takes a toll on that ring rust. I’ve experienced it, being out for a year, getting shoulder surgery and moving up two weight classes.

“I see a lot of slippage. I see him slowing down,” Guerrero added. “As far as his legs, they’re not as quick as they used to be, but his timing’s great. He’s very sharp. He’s been putting a lot more pressure on guys, and I really think that has to do with not being able to move as good on his legs. People think he’s changing his style. He wants us to think that.”

Still, Guerrero was sure to recognize Mayweather’s undisputed pugilistic brilliance. The Las Vegas resident has won all his fights by knockout or unanimous decision except for one, a split nod over Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.

“The one thing that carries Floyd Mayweather through is his intelligence in the ring,” Guerrero said. “Being super-intelligent, being able to change gears, being able to change angles, being able to do so many different things in the ring, being able to adapt, that’s what gets him through…He’s going to have to use his biggest tool—his mind  That’s the difference between him and other fighters."

In Guerrero’s last outing against Berto, he faced an opponent who approached him with the same type of shoulder-roll defense that has been Mayweather’s signature, and strafed it with left hands down the pipe.  Will the same strategy apply here?

“That’s how I put him down twice,” Guerrero said. “It’s knowing how to switch gears, knowing how to change it up, having the right timing, and knowing what to do with the style.  As you’ve seen, when Berto did try that, I smashed right through that defense like nothing.”

Perhaps the fact that there is a rematch clause in the contract indicates Mayweather’s acknowledgement that Guerrero presents a serious threat to his unblemished record.

“[Mayweather signed the rematch clause] out of respect. He knows he’s in for a dogfight,” Guerrero said.  “He knows he’s got someone in front of him who won’t back down…that’s why he wanted to sign that rematch [clause].”

Guerrero will not only be fighting for respect, but also for bigger paydays. Mayweather will reportedly make approximately four times Guerrero’s purse, a statistic that does not concern the challenger.

“It don’t matter me because I come to fight. The money’s going to be there if you keep winning,” Guerrero said. “I’m getting taken care of very well, so that’s all that matters to me. I’m out there to fight, not to worry and cry about how much I’m going to get, because I’m not there just to get paid, I’m there to win.”

Northern California boxing has enjoyed a revival that has been spearheaded by Guerrero and his two childhood friends from the amateur ranks, junior featherweight king Nonito Donaire of San Leandro and super middleweight champion Andre Ward of Oakland.

“I feel if I had to choose somebody besides myself, I would choose Andre Ward to be the best fighter pound-for-pound,” Guerrero said when asked if he felt Mayweather still reigned atop pro boxing.

With Ward the Boxing Writers Association of America’s choice for Fighter of the Year in 2011, and Donaire taking the honors in 2012, Guerrero would undoubtedly be the front-runner for the award this year if he can pull off the upset for the ages.

“It is a statement fight for Bay Area boxing,” Guerrero said. “I think it’s really going to spark boxing even more here in the Bay Area. Growing up with Andre and Nonito in the amateurs, two of the top world champions and also, pound-for-pound top 10 fighters, it was awesome.

“To see where they’re at now, and where I’m at now, and where we’re going, and how we’re taking it to that next level, it’s amazing and truly a blessing.”

Guerrero will resume training in the South Bay with his father, Ruben Sr., until he departs for Las Vegas for the rest of camp until mid-March.

“I’m a man of faith,” Guerrero said. “I’m a man of God, and I really feel God’s put me in this position for a reason -- not just to humble the boxing world, but to humble Floyd Mayweather.  I really feel that I’m going to go in there and dominate this fight.”

CSN Bay Area Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and panelist for Ring Magazine’s Ratings Board.  E-mail him at rmaquinana@gmail.com, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.