Floyd Mayweather v. Robert Guerrero

Floyd Mayweather is undefeated - a fact he likes to remind us of on a regular basis. On Saturday night, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas [Showtime PPV] Mayweather [43-0] will face off against Robert Guerrero [35-1-1]. As for Guerrero like every other opponent before him, will try to make one of the most ubiquitous statistics in boxing mere fiction.

Looking at Guerrero there’s little doubt that Saturday’s fight will be his biggest challenge. Fighting Mayweather has always been every fighter’s biggest task. But getting the fight in the first place - the sport’s biggest payday will surely go down as one of the great and least expected events in boxing in recent times. After all, Guerrero, a former featherweight and super-featherweight title holder jumped two weight classes from lightweight to welterweight (two weight divisions) to get it. Along the way he won convincingly, including victories against former champions such as the durable Selcuk Aydin and the notoriously powerful Andre Berto.

The victory against Berto was particularly momentous. Berto, long heralded as the next opponent for the pound for pound king, was expected to breeze past Guerrero. Guerrero who was not expected to carry his power from the lower weight classes was an underdog. Instead Guerrero delivered a masterclass of brutality and inside fighting to dispatch Berto.

But what chance does Guerrero stand against the skills of Mayweather, who is unquestionably a different style fighter to any others Guerrero has faced in his career? The likes of Berto and Aydin were come-forward fighters, all to keen to trade and exchange. As for Mayweather, his defense is notorious - likely the best of its generation. If Guerrero is to be victorious, he must find a way through a normally impenetrable guard.

But there were signs in Mayweather’s last fight against Miguel Cotto that perhaps age is catching up to the most dominant fighter of his era. Against Cotto, Mayweather spent an unusual amount of time on the ropes, willing to occasionally take significant blows from the Puerto Rican future Hall of Famer. If Guerrero is to find success it may have to be in forcing the five-weight champion on the ropes and landing blows faster and more accurately than the slower Cotto ever could. Fighting in the center of the ring will only play to Mayweather’s strengths. The other thing that’s important to consider is the fact that Guerrero is a southpaw. Mayweather has faced southpaws before, and has occasionally encountered some, if somewhat brief, problems - against Zab Judah and DeMarcus”Chop Chop” Corley.

But one thing’s for certain. Whether Guerrero is victorious or defeated, he’ll likely emerge as Mayweather’s stiffest test in years. With youth, grit, and numerous world titles in several weight classes behind him, Guerrero has seen it all. He might also be something that Floyd Mayweather has never before seen. That’s as rare an occurrence as a Mayweather defeat.

Abner Mares v. Daniel Ponce De Leon

Abner Mares, a two division titlist takes on current WBC featherweight title holder Daniel Ponce De Leon in the co-main event on Saturday night. It’s an interesting matchup for Mares [25-0-1 13 KO], a rising star but who will be facing Ponce De Leon a bigger and tougher opponent than he’s ever faced before and unquestionably the biggest test of his career.

For starters, Ponce De Leon [44-4 35 KO]  former 122-pound belt holder, won his current strap with an technical decision over Jhonny Gonzalez last September. Why is that so impressive? Well it put an end to a 12-fight win streak for Gonzalez that included that included 11 knockouts. Mares will need to respect Ponce de Leon's power and size and make adjustments accordingly. Ponce De Leon’s most recent defeats came at the hands of Yuriorkis Gamboa and pound for pounder Adrien Broner, two elite caliber opponents who failed to stop the durable champion, something that should be kept in mind when looking at the average power of Mares, who relies much more on speed and volume punching.

Both fighters will be guaranteed a sizeable $375,000 for the bout. But one man responsible for organizing those purses was Frank Espinoza, manager to both fighters. Having one guy emerge victorious and another vanquished makes for an interesting dynamic in a fantastic hors d'oeuvres to the battle between Mayweather and Guerrero. 

Igor Guryashkin is a freelance journalist whose extensive work on combat sports has been featured in ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He splits his time between New York and Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @IGuryashkinESPN.

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