By Thomas Gerbasi
NEW YORK – The assembled media at the Vanderbilt Suites in midtown Manhattan Tuesday weren’t the only ones that heard Robert Guerrero speak about his faith in the lead-up to his May 4th showdown with Floyd Mayweather. According to “The Ghost,” his future foe also got wind of it at a recent photo and video shoot, and not surprisingly, the pound-for-pound king wasn’t shy about addressing him regarding his comments.
“You know what,” said Mayweather, “we say the same prayers. God don’t favor nobody.”
“God does have favor over people. How do you think David beat Goliath? How do you think Moses defeated Pharaoh? God has favor over people, God uses people. And then he (Mayweather) tells me ‘you fight for your legacy, you fight for principles; I fight for money.’ And I told him, ‘that’s your problem. You worship your money; money’s your God.’ He didn’t like that; he froze up when I told him that. And by him telling me all that stuff, I know he’s the type of guy that underestimates faith and underestimates prayer, because prayer is powerful if you believe.”
Robert Guerrero is a believer. If you didn’t know that before, you did after Tuesday’s presser, but the Gilroy, California native isn’t a fly-by-night Christian. He didn’t discover religion after doing all the drugs, drinking all the alcohol, and bedding all the women. He’s been in for the long haul, and with his wife Casey now cancer-free after a harrowing battle with leukemia, his belief is even stronger.
“I’ve always been the type of guy that’s not wild or crazy,” said Guerrero, 29. “I don’t go out, I don’t party, I don’t drink, I don’t do none of that. I’m a family man, I spend time with my wife and my kids, and I was raised in the church with my father. As time went on and the older I got, the closer I got to God and the more I built that relationship with Jesus Christ. When my wife got sick it even got stronger. I’ve always been a big believer in the Lord, and I’m just gonna remain a big believer for the rest of my life.”
Mixing religion and boxing is usually a no no for fight fans, but it is a big part of Guerrero’s life, and hence, a big part of this fight. Of course, when he says that he was sent by God to “humble” Mayweather, it adds a new layer of gamesmanship and a unique and unconventional form of trash talk, even if that’s not Guerrero’s intention.
“I’ve been watching Floyd since the amateurs, since he was in the Olympics, and Floyd was a very, very respectful good person,” he said. “And then he got the fight with Oscar De La Hoya and he just spun out of control. He said he was the best ever, that nobody could beat him, and when you exalt yourself, the Lord will humble you.”
On May 4th though, it will be Guerrero and his fists trying to pin the first loss on Mayweather’s record. Can he do it?
“He has the ability to adjust more than a lot of Floyd’s other opponents,” said WBA welterweight champion and Showtime color commentator Paulie Malignaggi. “Floyd takes away what you do best, and when he’s taken away what you do best, you’re left kinda naked in front of him and he dissects you and takes you apart. Guerrero does a lot of things good, and because of that, in order to take away what he does best, you’re gonna have to take away more than one or two things. So from that perspective, it makes the fight interesting. Can he win? Yes. Are you gonna favor him? Absolutely not. You can’t pick against Floyd Mayweather. But I think the versatility he (Guerrero) has brings a special dynamic to the table for this fight.”
The 43-0 Mayweather is the rightful favorite, but he is perhaps less of one after Guerrero’s most recent fight, a stirring 12 round decision win over Andre Berto last November. In that bout, Guerrero got into the trenches and made a boxing match into a fight, roughing up and pressuring Berto from start to finish. For most observers, if you’re going to beat Floyd Mayweather, you have to pressure him and get him into a dogfight. Malignaggi doesn’t necessarily think that’s the wisest course of action.
“The misconception about Floyd is that he’s a pretty boxer and that pretty boxers don’t like to get roughed up or be in a physical fight,” he said. “But the thing with Floyd Mayweather is, he’s not half bad in those trench kind of fights. He did it with Ricky Hatton, he did it with Miguel Cotto, he did it in spots in the Victor Ortiz fight, and he’s not your prototypical pretty boy boxer in that slick and I don’t want to be touched way. Floyd has no problem being in the trenches and actually beating you in the trenches. So Guerrero may take that approach. It worked against Berto, and I’m not gonna say it’s not gonna work against Floyd, but you take that approach against Floyd at your own risk because if you think you’re just gonna muscle him around on the inside, you’re probably wrong because he’s made a lot of adjustments and has gotten even better since the Jose Luis Castillo days. Floyd on the inside is not what he was when he fought Castillo. So muscling him around on the inside is a lot easier said than done.”
Speaking to Guerrero’s father and trainer Ruben, his focus didn’t stray from the monitor showing that fight again. Berto even opened up using Mayweather’s signature shoulder roll, a point not lost on the senior Guerrero, even though he says that the Berto bout doesn’t provide the blueprint for beating Pretty Boy Floyd.
“He (Mayweather) does it better,” he laughed, referring to Berto’s shoulder roll, “but we’re gonna break him down. It’s not gonna be the same fight as Berto; it’s gonna be a little different and he’s gonna find out. He thinks we’re gonna fight the same way we fought Berto, but Berto is a bigger, stronger guy and we had to do that with Berto. But we’re gonna be ready May 4th and people are gonna see what Team Guerrero’s all about and what kind of game plan we’re gonna put together.”
All this was said with nary a glance away from what might have been his son’s finest fistic hour.
“I’m still studying films right now,’ he said. “As soon as we get back home, we’re gonna study films, we’re gonna look at everything, look at his weaknesses, and every little weakness we can put together, that’s what we’re gonna use.”
It may be a waste of time, because Robert Guerrero sounds like he has already found Mayweather’s weakness.
“I look at this as a modern day David and Goliath,” he said. “People looked at Goliath like he was unstoppable; nobody could beat him. You had armies fearing him. David walked out there alone with a slingshot and some pebbles and dethroned him and took him out. I know how powerful God is if you believe and you have faith.
“Floyd’s the best fighter that anybody fights,” Guerrero continues. “Floyd’s a tremendous talent, he’s a very intelligent fighter in the ring, but all that’s gonna break down fight night. When I get in that ring, he’s gonna be befuddled, he’s not gonna know what’s going on. He’s gonna see things in the ring that he’s never seen before and he’s gonna be shocked.”