Four months ago, Robert Guerrero was a little known fighter, hovering along boxing's margins with scores of up-and-comers and on-their-ways-outs. Today, he is in the sport's inner ring, one step away from immortality.
On May 4, he'll face the seemingly unbeatable Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The Gilroy native certainly earned this mega-fight. On Nov. 24, he was supposed to be a rung on Andre Berto's climb back to the top, a solid but unproven brawler whose defeat would improve Berto's résumé. But then Guerrero whooped Berto for a clear-cut, unanimous decision in one of the most entertaining-- and brutal-- fights of the year.
Now he was known: a tough and persistent, bull-rushing slugger, who can walk through jabs and literally punch the snot out of a nose; a 29-year-old who's won 31 of 32 fights and boxes as if he's paid by the punch.
The announcement, made today by both Mayweather and Guerrero's management team, was not a complete surprise. By beating Berto, Guerrero worked his way onto the short list of Mayweather's potential opponents.
The bout will be at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The men will compete for Mayweather's WBC Welterweight title. And Showtime will broadcast the bout: Mayweather, as he revealed today, has left HBO, under whom he has fought nearly all of his career, to sign a six-fight revenue-sharing pay-per-view deal with Showtime, a major coup for a channel sometimes known for its second-rate boxing production.
That contract begins with Guerrero. It will be an interesting match-up for Mayweather (43-0), who hasn't fought an iron-chinned brawler like Guerrero (31-1) since jumping up to the welterweight division eight years ago. Mayweather is a consummate counter-puncher, with supreme defense and top-notch footwork. He doesn't have a lot of power, but he has fast hands and hits you when you don't expect it, from various angles. He sets up his power shots with jabs to the head and body. Just when opponents think they've measured his timing, discerning a pattern in his movements, he strikes, racking up points with combos, frustrating fighters with his slippery movements.
So May 4 will likely bring a bull vs. matador spectacle, with Guerrero pressing for action and Mayweather working to control the tempo on his terms, Guerrero looking for a barroom brawl and Mayweather looking for a chess match.
In the meantime, Guerrero can expect the mega-fight hype treatment, with national media profiles and behind-the-scenes cameras. For the next 10 weeks, he will be on boxing's center stage: the man who might beat Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It's a label many have held before.