Guerrero scores Mayweather showdown on May 4

Fight of a lifetime for Guerrero

Guerrero scores Mayweather showdown on May 4
February 19, 2013, 9:00 am
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WHAT THE BOXING WORLD THOUGHT TWO YEARS AGO

In November 2011, intrepid publicist Mario Serrano polled several members of the boxing community for their thoughts on a potential fight between his client Robert Guerrero and pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather.

Since that time, Guerrero has posted back-to-back victories since rising from 135 pounds to the 147-pound division last year. On the other hand, after beating Miguel Cotto last May, Mayweather has incurred a long spell of inactivity that included a two-month jail sentence and the return of his father, Floyd Sr., as head trainer despite almost 13 years away from his corner.

Given that information, do you think the experts would answer the question the same way today? Here’s a sampling of the gallery:

• The late Emanuel Steward, Hall of Fame trainer: “It's a tough fight.  To me it's a pick’em fight, in my opinion.”

Roberto Duran, Hall of Fame fighter: “It reminds me a lot of my fight with Sugar Ray Leonard when I moved up from lightweight to welterweight and beat him. You have a fast American fighter against a bruising Latin fighter. Styles make fights, and this is a very interesting matchup. I feel that Robert will pull off the upset in Las Vegas, and I must be there to see it. Guerrero by unanimous decision.”

Kevin Iole, writer, Yahoo! Sports: “I think Mayweather would win that fight because he's the best fighter in the world.”

Dan Rafael, writer, ESPN.com: “I got Mayweather in a unanimous decision.”

David Avila, writer, Riverside Press-Enterprise: “If ‘The Ghost’ were to fight Mayweather, I'm just wondering if he could fight that style.  It's a confusing style when fighting Mayweather because he makes you think and pause while he hits you.  I say Mayweather in a close split decision.”

Nonito Donaire, four-division world champion: “Floyd is a great fighter, as is Robert.  Both show great resilience in the ring.  Robert has the heart of a warrior, and it's a great fight for boxing.  I have to go with Robert Guerrero who's younger and fresher to win this fight.”

Cameron Dunkin, Donaire’s manager: “Guerrero is a quick southpaw but I'm going with Floyd in a real competitive fight.  Floyd wins seven rounds to five.”

Ryan Maquiñana, writer, CSNBayArea.com: “[Guerrero] is a tall, accurate southpaw who presents some issues for Floyd, and I don't think size would be a problem as I've seen ‘The Ghost’ walk around at 152, 153 pounds.  If they were to meet, Floyd's track record would make him the favorite by decision, but Robert's a live underdog, and it wouldn't surprise me if he put the first blemish on Floyd's career.”

--Ryan Maquinana

Gilroy’s Robert Guerrero has secured the pay-per-view fight of a lifetime against boxing pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 4 at the Las Vegas MGM Grand, a source with knowledge of the negotiations informed CSNBayArea.com Tuesday morning.

Showtime has secured the broadcast rights for the bout, beating out archrival Home Box Office for the honors. Under his new agreement with Showtime PPV, Mayweather will be able to fight as much as six times over a span of 30 months, starting with the clash against Guerrero.

Guerrero (NorCal P4P No. 3; 31-1-1, 18 KOs), currently the World Boxing Council interim welterweight world champion, will take on the incumbent Mayweather for the WBC’s full-fledged 147-pound belt.

Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) has not defended the title since his September 2011 knockout of Victor Ortiz, which allowed the WBC to award Guerrero interim champion status after he defeated Selcuk Aydin at HP Pavilion last July.

[RELATED VIDEO: Guerrero has ‘great chance’ to upset Mayweather]

Almost a fortnight ago, Mayweather insinuated on social media that he would eschew the fight in favor of one with Devon Alexander, but ultimately, Guerrero won out.

“I’ve been calling all the big names out to fight me because I’ve learned that nowadays, nothing gets done until you open your mouth and push for it,” Guerrero told CSNBayArea.com after his previous outing, a unanimous decision over Andre Berto last November. “I know if I get a shot against Floyd, I’ll shock the world.”

The fight will mark Mayweather’s 10th pay-per-view main event and third on Cinco de Mayo weekend, while Guerrero will enter a bout of this magnitude for the first time.

In the co-feature, unbeaten junior middleweight titleholders Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (41-0, 30 KOs) of Mexico and Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs) of Las Cruces, N.M. are scheduled to unify their belts.

TWO GUYS GOING GREEN
The aptly nicknamed “Money” Mayweather’s base purse against Ortiz was $25 million, and for his subsequent victory against 154-pound titlist Miguel Cotto in May of last year, the figure was $32 million. Ortiz earned a base purse of $2 million, and Cotto took in $8 million.

[RELATED VIDEO: Guerrero gets past Berto, Mayweather next?]

Exact terms have not yet been disclosed, but Guerrero, who pocketed a shade over $1 million for his landmark win over Berto, is rumored to receiving something in between the aforementioned Ortiz and Cotto purses—likely around $3.5 million, according to the source.

Mayweather’s purse has yet to be determined, but it has been estimated to fall between his numbers in the Ortiz and Cotto purses as well. Note that Guerrero and Mayweather’s respective base purses do not include anything else set out in the contract, such as cuts from the American pay-per-view or foreign television revenue streams, so both men could potentially receive even more dollars. After the Cotto fight, for instance, Mayweather ended up clearing more than $45 million.

“It’s possible to make the fight [with Mayweather],” Guerrero told CSNBayArea.com immediately following the victory over Berto. “Everything’s there to do the fight…I’ve got his title. If he wants it, he needs to come get it.”

THE KING IS BACK
In three months, Guerrero will get his wish against the boxer universally recognized as the best in the world pound-for-pound. The unbeaten Mayweather, originally from Grand Rapids, Mich., and now residing in Las Vegas, has captured world titles in five different weight classes during a first-ballot Hall of Fame career.

Although his proposed superfight with archrival Manny Pacquiao has not come to fruition, Mayweather still holds wins over several former or current champions, including Sacramento’s Diego Corrales, Genaro Hernandez, Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, and a virtual shutout of Juan Manuel Marquez.

To illustrate his dominance, aside from a split decision nod over Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, Mayweather has either won by knockout or finished ahead on all three judges’ scorecards against all 42 of his other opponents in 17 years as a pro.

In fact, the last time Mayweather lost was in the 125-pound featherweight tournament of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where he was awarded a bronze medal after dropping a 10-9 decision to Bulgaria’s Serafim Todorov. The verdict was shrouded in controversy after the referee mistakenly raised the American’s hand in triumph when the winner was announced.

However, Mayweather showed faint signs of slippage earlier this year, especially in the defensive department, where he has few peers, if any at all. Against Cotto, he uncharacteristically chose to stand and trade punches in the middle of the ring with the Puerto Rican star rather than use his legs to evade trouble. As a result, it was an unprecedented sight for his usually pristine “Pretty Boy” face to be left bruised and bloody after 12 rounds courtesy of several power shots upstairs.

The judges still awarded Mayweather a unanimous decision, but questions remain whether he has passed his prime at age 35. In addition to Father Time possibly starting to eat away at his physical gifts, his long stretches of inactivity away from the sport could factor into his encounter with Guerrero.

“I'm a lot closer to 40 than I am to 21, but I have a lot left in the tank and I want to go out there and give the fans nothing but excitement,” Mayweather told FightHype.com in December.

Mayweather has only fought once per year since 2009, and following the win over Cotto last May, he served two months in a Las Vegas jail after being convicted in a domestic battery case that involved ex-girlfriend Josie Harris, the mother of two of his children.

One month into his sentence, Mayweather’s lawyers argued for an early release because his condition had deteriorated and weight had dropped, partially because he felt the food and water provided was not up to his standards. The court denied his request.

Legal ploy or not, Mayweather was eventually released last August and afterward revealed a noticeably smaller physique in photos he posted online via social media. However, he will have had close to nine months to recover and return to form by the time he enters the ring in May.

“The main thing is that I'm happy that I served my time and my children are doing well in school…I believe in taking time off and letting my body rejuvenate. You know, letting my wounds heal, and then when it's time to step to the plate, I step to the plate and I'm a homerun hitter,” Mayweather added.

An emerging subplot in Mayweather’s camp is the return of his father, Floyd Sr., to the post of head trainer. The two have endured a tumultuous relationship over the years, especially after Floyd Jr. dismissed his father and instead opted to work with his uncle Roger in 2000. But with Roger’s diabetes exacerbated to a point where he can longer be an effective cornerman, Floyd Sr. will step in for his younger brother and assume chief second duties once more.

‘GHOST’ STORY
Meanwhile, Guerrero enjoyed a momentous 2012. After tearing the rotator cuff in his left shoulder in late 2011, “The Ghost” rebounded by moving up from lightweight to welterweight—a whopping 12 pounds and two weight classes—in order to pursue more lucrative bouts.

Avoided for almost two years as Marquez’s mandatory challenger at 135 pounds, he jumped into his first 147-pound clash with the then-unbeaten Aydin. Despite coming off a 15-month hiatus, Guerrero withstood vicious assaults from one of the hardest punchers in the division to pull out a decisive triumph on points at the Shark Tank. In doing so, Guerrero won his sixth world title (counting interim belts) over four divisions.

Of course, as Mayweather has often quipped, “43 have tried, and 43 have failed” to defeat him. Without a doubt, Guerrero will come in as the underdog, but with his father Ruben in his corner, the 29-year-old is unwavering in his belief that he has the perfect style to stamp the first blemish on his upcoming foe’s perfect ledger.

“I have the tools to beat him, and it’s more than just me being a southpaw,” said the left-handed Guerrero. “I can box when I have to, I can brawl when I have to, and my dad and I have worked on how to beat the shoulder roll defense Floyd uses. It’s all there.”

“I have the tools to beat him, and it’s more than just me being a southpaw,” said the left-handed Guerrero. “I can box when I have to, I can brawl when I have to, and my dad and I have worked on how to beat the shoulder roll defense Floyd uses. It’s all there.”

While he will be a newcomer to the grandest of stages the sweet science has to offer, Guerrero has the type of backstory to engender a new generation of boxing fans looking for a hero to inspire them.

In 2010, Guerrero gave up his 135-pound title and put his career on hold to tend to his wife Casey, who had contracted leukemia. The father of two helped keep the household together while she endured grueling sessions of chemotherapy.

“He’s been my best friend through all this,” Casey said of her husband. “We’ve been together since junior high, and with our faith in God, we got through it.”

Following a bone marrow transplant and 18 months of treatment, Casey’s cancer went into remission, and the junior high school sweethearts have become renowned spokespersons for charities in search of a cure.

For his efforts, Guerrero received the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Bill Crawford Award for Courage in Overcoming Adversity.

“The awards and stuff are nice, but I think I would do what any husband would,” Guerrero said. “I was happy to be able to come back to boxing, but family comes first, and I’m just so thankful to God that we’re still on this journey together.”

IT’S SHOWTIME!
The news that Showtime has landed the broadcast rights comes as a bit of an upset.

The last time HBO failed to televise a Mayweather bout was 1999, when he beat Carlos Rios. Mayweather finally broke through to mainstream success in 2007, when HBO’s “24/7” documentary series shed light on his transformation from “Pretty Boy” to his flamboyant “Money” persona before his fight with De La Hoya. The event would end up being the highest-grossing card of all-time, with $120 million in revenue coming from the 2.4 million pay-per-view buys alone.

Showtime will be breaking HBO’s 23-fight streak with Mayweather, and the premium cable network is well-equipped to accomplish the feat. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who promotes Guerrero, and Mayweather’s adviser Al Haymon have a strong working relationship with Showtime Sports head Stephen Espinoza.

Almost all of Showtime Championship Boxing’s main events over the past 12 months—including Guerrero’s win over Aydin—have included a Golden Boy or Al Haymon-backed fighter. Further strengthening ties is the fact that Espinoza served as lead counsel for Golden Boy before moving to his new post in November of last year.

Perhaps most importantly, Showtime offers the golden nugget of promotion through network television. While HBO can air “Mayweather-Guerrero 24/7” replays on the Time Warner Family of channels like TNT, TBS, and CNN, Showtime is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS and would have the ability to use that platform to reach homes that do not have basic cable.

Last year, CBS returned to pro boxing programming for the first time since 1997, and on Dec. 15, 1.5 million households watched Leo Santa Cruz’s bantamweight title defense against Alberto Guevara. Santa Cruz is promoted by Golden Boy and advised by Haymon.

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.
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RING MAGAZINE POUND-FOR-POUND RANKINGS
(AS OF FEB. 19, 2013)

1. Floyd Mayweather, welterweight titlist, Las Vegas (43-0, 26 KOs)
2. Andre Ward, super middleweight champion, Oakland (26-0, 14 KOs)
3. Juan Manuel Marquez, jr. welterweight titlist, Mexico City (55-6-1, 40 KOs)
4. Sergio Martinez, middleweight champion, Argentina (50-2-2, 28 KOs)
5. Nonito Donaire, jr. featherweight champion, San Leandro (31-1, 20 KOs)
6. Adrien Broner, lightweight titlist, Cincinnati (26-0, 22 KOs)
7. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight, Philippines (54-5-2, 38 KOs)
8. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight champion, Ukraine (59-3, 50 KOs)
9. Timothy Bradley, welterweight titleholder, Palm Springs (29-0, 12 KOs)
10. Robert Guerrero, welterweight interim titlist (31-1-1, 18 KOs)

NOTE: The Ring has defined a “champion” as one who either beats the former lineal champion or wins the vacant championship in a bout between the two best available fighters in the weight class. A “titlist” holds a belt from one of the four recognized sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO), but has not yet won The Ring championship to assert supremacy in his weight class.

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 atrmaquinana@gmail.com, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.