May Day is Coming…

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Back in the day, they used the Tale of the Tape to measure the fighters against each other, but height, weight, reach and even record really only tell one side of the story.  The physical facts and how the fighters match-up is told more in the intangibles and most of that doesn’t even become apparent until fight night is well underway.

Leading up to it, you get some indications of where the fighters are, plus there are always plenty of opinions, so why not toss our hat in the ring and share some thoughts going into this mega-fight between two of the division’s top welterweights.

This Cinco de Mayo match-up on May 4th between Floyd Mayweather and Robert Guerrero will be a good, exciting fight.  It will not end in a quick knockout.  It will not be a one-sided beat down.  It will be a competitive battle and has the potential to show character traits of each fighter that most of the general public and boxing fans haven’t seen from either of them before.  Yes, styles make fights, but so do unknowns and intangibles and this fight is full of both.

Will Guerrero be able to ride the momentum he gained with his confidence-raising, crowd-pleasing win over Andre Berto?

Will Mayweather’s advancing age, extended time off, incarceration and family turmoil finally catch up with him?

One fighter fights for a legacy and the other, legitimacy.  Who will have the hunger edge…which fighter has more to prove? 

Floyd “Money” Mayweather is fighting to cement his place in history and stick it to the haters.  While Robert “Ghost” Guerrero sees this as his opportunity to break out of the shadows and embrace his long-awaited moment of glory and recognition. There are lots at stake and many unanswered questions going into this fight.  That adds to the suspense.  That adds to the drama.

It’s been said that boxing is the theatre of the unexpected and the stage is set for a star-studded performance by both combatants.  This match-up holds the possibility of an encore performance similar to Mayweather vs. Cotto or Guerrero vs. Berto that will make May Day a Fight-of-the-Year Contender.

Physically, emotionally and philosophically, here’s how it breaks down…

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Robert Guerrero is real, authentic and relate-able, both inside and outside of the ring.  Regular boxing people, especially a large contingency of Hispanic fight fans, want Guerrero to win because he epitomizes the working man’s athlete.  His down-to-earth demeanor and workmanlike personae is the antithesis of Mayweather’s outgoing, over-the-top bravado.  This fight is the epitome of plain label versus designer brand boxing personalities and the practical boxing fans are putting their hard-earned cash on Guerrero.  The Mexican-American fighter WILL make this a fight. He’ll take it into the trenches and make it rough and dirty. That is a key to winning and he knows it.  But Mayweather will be working to keep enough distance on the inside and outside to fire shots from every angle and make the fight unfold on his terms.  He’s already said publically that HE will set the pace.

So…it’s obvious that both fighters know what they need to do and that’s to impose their will, their fight plan on the other fighter.  There won’t be any surprises here.  To be successful each fighter has to execute their game plan flawlessly and minimize their mistakes.

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IN ORDER TO WIN:

Robert Guerrero has to do…

1) Set a ferocious pace. Make it a rough, tough, ugly battle. He has to apply constant pressure; much like Cotto did against Mayweather, but not leave gaps that Mayweather can fill with counter-punches and sharpshooting.  Cotto pressed and waited for a response, pushed the action, but then laid back for a response. Guerrero has to work and not wait for what comes back.  Being able to carry out that type of pressure requires total confidence that he will have the right response for EVERYTHING and also 100% belief in his conditioning.  Guerrero will have to know that he can give, give, give and still have more NO MATTER WHAT.  Pacing and pressure has to be Guerrero’s plan.  Deviating for it is not an option if he hopes to win.

2) Use the left cross often and aim low, not at Floyd’s head, but at his chest, at his arms and at his body. Floyd has exceptional defense and awareness of positioning, but his patented shoulder-roll style defense will not work as well against Guerrero’s southpaw stance, as long as Guerrero doesn’t limit his game to head-hunting. Punching everything, everywhere, every second of every round is what could win this fight for Guerrero.

What he must NOT do:

1) Guerrero has to avoid a tendency to smother his punches. Mayweather will use this as an opportunity to create just enough space (with an elbow push or a shoulder bump) to land hard, clean inside shots and take this close quarters brawling, mauling opportunity away from Guerrero.

2)  Guerrero has to work his way in behind meaningful punches and not fall in behind over-anxious shots that miss their mark.  Floyd Mayweather’s keen sense of distance and spacing would make that a drastic mistake.  It’s consistent, but controlled pressure and a high rate of work that will force Mayweather to react quickly, risk more often and think less, all in order to turn this into the rough, no-holds-barred type of fight that will favor Robert Guerrero.

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What Floyd Mayweather has to do:

1) Start fast and catch Guerrero early. He can’t allow Guerrero to gain confidence, ride the Berto wave and get into a rhythm.  Mayweather has to shake off the rust early and make a statement from round one.  If he gives Guerrero the chance to believe he can win, then he will be battling a physical AND mental monster.

2) Mayweather also has to tie Guerrero up to break the action and gain boxing distance. Floyd likes to roll and make his opponents miss.  Guerrero may not miss as much, so Floyd may be forced to stop the action, in order to reset and take Guerrero’s momentum away.

What he must NOT do:

1) Languish on the ropes. He did this against Ortiz and Cotto both and, although he worked off the ropes well at times, he also took unnecessary punishment.  Doing that will give Guerrero the momentum he needs to win rounds, build-up points and gain confidence.

2) Don’t let Guerrero get off combinations, whether he’s landing or not.  If he lets Robert fire at will and outwork him, the judges might, just MIGHT give Guerrero the edge (ala: Timothy Bradley versus Manny

Pacquaio.) Champions aren’t afforded the benefit-of-the-doubt as much anymore.  You have to earn your title, prove you’re worthy of the multi-million dollar paydays, whether you’re a champion or a challenger.

At the end of the day, critics argue that Floyd has slowed, but he is a rare breed that is always in shape, not boxing shape mind you, but he’s still in shape and that bridges the gap.  It gives him a firm foundation to build from as he begins pre-fight preparations.  He is never starting from zero.

That’s an advantage for any athlete.  Also, you can view Mayweather’s age as a negative, but with age comes wisdom. It’s a trade-off.   Intelligent fighters adapt. Floyd will adapt.  Like him or not, there’s no denying what he’s capable of doing in the ring.  He backs up his bravado, puts butts in seats and does what he says he will do…43 times in a row so far anyway.

In spite of the knock that Guerrero isn’t exciting, that he fights to the level of his opponents (although it’s somewhat true); it’s not the whole story.  He has a lot to gain and even more to fight for.  Pride and purpose are major intangibles, plus Guerrero has huge huevos. He is just plain TOUGH.

All things considered, if you take emotions out of the equation…out of the prediction, if you don’t consider nationality, faith, public personae, your stylistic favorite and stop thinking with your heart and use your head…if you predict an outcome of the fight based on facts and boxing knowledge then you know who wins this fight.

It doesn’t take a boxing expert to tell you the outcome.  The quote goes…”When the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count.” Who do you think has the better skill set, the better mind set and is dreaming bigger?

That’s who wins on May 4th.

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.