Just a year-and-a-half-ago, the notion of Robert Guerrero merely sharing the prize ring with the best boxer of this era was a laughable one.
He was just a lightweight then, nursing an injured left shoulder, and hardly seemed deserving of calling out Floyd Mayweather Jr.
But he did. Relentlessly.
“He talks a good game,” Mayweather said. “So now we’ll just have to see if he can fight the same way he talks.”
On Saturday, the Gilroy native gets his shot.
“We’re going to go after him the whole fight,” said Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs), who will fight the undefeated Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “Whether the fight ends early or if it goes 12 rounds, we’re going to go after him the whole fight.”
It’s a fight that Guerrero gradually earned since late 2011, rising in weight as well as the ranks. He’s toppled a pair of 147-pounders since moving up from 135 pounds, his last foe being Andre Berto.
“After the beating I put on Berto, you’ve got to take somebody seriously, because you know they come out to punish,” Guerrero said. “So I know for sure Floyd Mayweather is taking me seriously.”
And punish Berto is what Guerrero, 30, did in November, violently burrowing into his opponent’s chest, strafing him with power shots while sending the Floridian to the canvas twice.
But duplicating that same effort against Mayweather’s immaculate craft won’t be easy.
“You can’t compare Berto to Mayweather,” Guerrero said. “We perfected a lot of different things that we’re going to be bringing in the ring and putting the defense together even more tighter.”
But as Guerrero prepares to enter the biggest fight of his career, he’s been particularly effective in garnering negative spotlight. He has a court date looming on May 14 in relation to gun charge arrest in March at JFK Airport in New York.
And Guerrero’s father, Ruben, hasn’t stemmed the distractions, as he’s challenged Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr, to a street fight come fight night.
But foolish follies aside, Guerrero’s chances seemingly rely on his height advantage, youth and southpaw stance.
Some of Mayweather’s toughest bouts have been against lefties — DeMarcus Corley and Zab Judah in particular.
But those fights were a long time ago. And Mayweather, 36, was younger then.
“You can’t underestimate him and you can’t look past anything he brings,” Guerrero said. “If he is slowing down, his slower is faster than almost every other fighter out there.”