This Saturday night, the biggest star in boxing returns to the ring after a year-long absence when Floyd "Money" Mayweather takes on Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero in Las Vegas for the WBC welterweight title.
Guerrero earned his shot by beating Michael Katsidis for the WBA and WBO lightweight titles back in April of 2011, then moving up in weight last November and utterly punishing Andre Berto for the WBC welterweight belt. Now Guerrero takes on his biggest challenge to date in Mayweather, a future Hall of Famer.
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Biggest Mayweather Win: Round 10 TKO over Diego Corrales - January 20th, 2001
On the night of the fight, Corrales (who always had problems with his weight), weighed in at 10 pounds more than Mayweather, and experts were split on the contrasting styles of the two fighters; Corrales, with his big punching power, and Mayweather, with his slick counter-punching style. To a lot of people's surprise, "Money" dominated the bout, winning every round and knocking Corrales down a total of five times. Mayweather started the fight with his usually shoulder roll defensive style, but once he realized that he could not be hurt by Corrales, he stalked him and beat him senseless until Corrales' father threw in the towel towards the end of the 10th round.
Biggest Guerrero Win: Unanimous decision over Andre Berto - November 24th, 2012
The main reason Guerrero gets his shot at Mayweather this Saturday is because he dominated Andre Berto last November. "Ghost" smothered Berto, neutralizing his hand and foot speed, with much of the action taking place with Berto backing up. Some critics did not like the fact that Guerrero did a lot of holding with his hitting, but this aggressive, physical style frustrated Berto, as he ended up on the canvas in each of the first two rounds. Berto was constantly pushed against the ropes, and though he hit Guerrero with some solid counter-punches, he could not keep up with the pressure. Guerrero's game plan worked, in that he didn't mind taking some shots to continue pushing Berto against the ropes.
How Mayweather Can Win:
Many thought when Miguel Cotto got Mayweather up against the ropes last May that it was a sign of weakness, and showed that Floyd doesn't have the same foot speed anymore. However, Mayweather told people that he wanted to engage more, and that's why he was more aggressive than normal. He knows that Guerrero will come in charging, and he will have to be ready with that quick right hand. Mayweather will also have to constantly spin off the ropes, so he doesn't take unnecessary punishment. When he is on the ropes, Floyd will have to be willing to throw combinations to discourage Guerrero from blindly charging in.
How Guerrero Can Win:
Let's face it, Guerrero will need to have the night of his life to pull the upset in this one. Pressure will be the key, but he'll have to be a whole lot smarter than he was against Berto. Despite winning that fight, Guerrero took a ton of punishment from short uppercuts, and his right eye was swollen shut by the end of the contest. Mayweather won't lay up against the ropes like Berto did and become an easy target. "Ghost" will have to be ready to box at a distance, and then smother Floyd at times by varying his attacks. The uppercut will have to be a huge weapon for Guerrero, but the question is, how much punishment is he willing to take in order to land it? Mayweather is an incredible counter-puncher, and Guerrero will have to utilize outstanding head movement so he doesn't get hit with three or four punches just to land one.
At 36, Mayweather has slowed down a bit, but he still has enough left in the tank to beat a guy that he is both stronger and faster than. Guerrero won't quit and will show a ton of heart, but I don't think it will be enough to win the fight. I see Mayweather winning by unanimous decision.