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April 04, 2013

By Rob Soucy

On Saturday May 4th, the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world will look to remain aon top in what should be a very entertaining fight. Floyd Mayweather puts his WBC welterweight championship on the line against Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Mayweather has opened as more than a 10 to 1 betting favorite which, in my opinion, is absurd. Guerrero is among the top 15 or 20 on the pound-for-pound lists, he in his prime, and has more than an outside chance to win this fight.

At this point in his career, Mayweather can certainly be outworked, but outworking Floyd and actually landing punchesb frequently are two very different things.  Some boxing media point to Mayweather's win over Miguel Cotto fight and say that Floyd has lost his legs. I somewhat disagree. Of course Floyd doesn’t have the same bounce in his step that he had 10 years ago, but he compensates for it. In my opinion, the success that Cotto had in losing to Floyd in May 2012 stemmed more from the way Floyd CHOSE to fight rather than what Cotto forced him to do.

Floyd spent more time than usual with his back to the ropes but how he chose to handle it was very uncharacteristic of him. Before the Cotto fight, Floyd would usually roll his shoulder, lean back, and make his opponent miss while being defensive while on the ropes. Against Cotto, Floyd was much more offensive minded and landed big shots all night while supposedly trapped on the ropes.

Although Guerrero has a similar attacking, in-your-face style, the former featherweight is not nearly as physically imposing as a 154-pound Miguel Cotto. In fact, Guerrero is viewed as smaller than Mayweather, who has grown into a big welterweight. There are several questions that we won’t get answers to until May 4th. For Guerrero to stay competitive he first must figure out a way to neutralize Floyd’s ability to land his counter right hand at will. It took Floyd about a round and a half to time Victor Ortiz and at that point the fight was all but over. Make no mistake about it, Guerrero is a better fighter at this point in his career than Ortiz was but will it matter?

Guerrero loves to fight on the inside and can be dangerous. However, Floyd may be superior in that area as well. He has been noticeably hurt once in his career which came in the second round of the Shane Mosley fight. The 2010 version of Mosley still had enough one-punch power to hurt Floyd with his right hand. Unfortunately for Guerrero he does not possess that same explosive one punch power. Guerrero also has problems defensively which need to be addressed or Floyd will expose them. “The Ghost” has a tendency to leave his head in the middle after punching on the inside. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mayweather end the fight abruptly with an uppercut straight up the middle.

So how can Guerrero win this fight or even stay competitive? In my opinion it will be tough, but if several factors fall into place an upset could happen. Guerrero needs to get Floyd’s respect early as I get the feeling that Floyd doesn’t respect Guerrero’s ability as a fighter very much. He also needs to try to keep Floyd guessing which is something that Ortiz couldn’t do. His jab from the southpaw stance will play a key role if he is able to keep Floyd from getting in a rythym. He needs to mix it up, feint often, and double and triple his jab while varying the speed. The busier Guerrero is with his jab the less predictable his straight left hand will be. Consequently, Mayweather will be forced to look to land more than his trademark counter right hand.

Guerrero must then figure out a way to land cleanly often enough to win rounds. I think it’s fairly safe to assume that Guerrero will be busier than Mayweather but effective aggression is a different concept. Coming forward and being picked apart will not win this fight for Guerrero. He will need to make Floyd uncomfortable by forcing him to fight when he doesn’t want to. Along with Bernard Hopkins, Floyd is the best in the sport at picking spots and conserving energy. But if Guerrero can push the pace for eight rounds and be competitive anything can happen from there.
Offensively, Guerrero should come into this fight with a fairly good game plan, however, defensively are where the problems lie. Guerrero has never been elusive and Floyd is one of the most accurate punchers in the history of the sport. That brings me back to Floyd’s uppercut which he has done damage with, including in the twelfth round of the Cotto fight.

If Guerrero is lazy on the inside and doesn’t move his head after punching he will get caught with the shot that Floyd can do the most damage with, his right uppercut. 

While Guerrero is a much bigger underdog than he probably should be he almost needs to fight a perfect fight to come away with the victory. Mayweather just does too many things well and can adjust on the fly better than any other fighter. Floyd will have an answer for whatever fight plan Guerrero brings to the ring on May 4th, count on it.

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