Much has changed for Floyd Mayweather Jr. since last year's hard-earned victory over Miguel Cotto. Less than a month after beating the Puerto Rican, Mayweather served 60 days in jail for domestic assault against one of the mothers of his children (which turned into the subject of a documentary). Professionally, he ended his 16-year association with HBO and signed a lucrative deal with Showtime, and Saturday's fight with Robert Guerrero signifies the first of what may become a six-fight deal.
With all the changes in his life, Mayweather hopes two things will stay the same -- his unblemished record and the dominance he enjoyed in creating the 43-0 ledger. "The Ghost" says he'll be the one to notch the first "L" on Mayweather's string of "Ws." Will he? Their CompuBox histories offer the following clues:
Taking More Risks: Though Mayweather says he ignores his critics, his actions suggest otherwise. He promised to go toe-to-toe with Miguel Cotto, Victor Ortiz and Shane Mosley and, in his own way, he did just that. In his last two fights against Cotto (57.2) and Ortiz (52), Mayweather registered his highest average output per round since averaging 55 punches per round against Henry Bruseles in January 2005 and against "Sugar Shane" In fact, Money's 687 punches thrown vs. Cotto were the most he's thrown in 35 of his fights tracked by CompuBox. Mayweather came perilously close to defeat when two huge rights buckled his legs in round two. The resourceful Mayweather rode out the storm, then out-classed Mosley the rest of the way. Throwing 39.8 punches per round (and limiting Mosley to 37.7), Mayweather out-landed his rival 208-92 (total), 85-46 (jabs) and 123-46 (power).
Signs of Slippage?: Mayweather's stock and trade has always been his accuracy, but against Cotto he landed just 26% of his total punches and 34% of his power shots -- well below the 46% overall accuracy and 50% power precision he posted in his nine previous fights. Also, he absorbed a higher percentage of Cotto's shots than usual (21% total, 23% power), while in his last nine fights he tasted a combined 16% of his opponents' total punches and 19.4% of their power punches. What's more, Cotto was seen as a spent and shopworn force at the time he fought Mayweather so does that give Guerrero hope?
Mayweather vs. Lefties: In his last 10 fights, Mayweather has fought three southpaws -- Ortiz, Judah and Mitchell. In those fights Mayweather averaged a combined 39.5 punches per round, landed 42% overall, 29% jabs and 48% power while against the seven right-handers he averaged 42.4 punches per round and landed 43% overall, 37% jabs and 48% power. Defensively the numbers are excellent, for against the righties he tasted 17% overall, 14% jabs and 18% power while against the southpaws he felt 16% overall, 7% jabs and -- interestingly -- 27% of their power shots.
Activity Rules: Guerrero brings one aspect to this fight that few Mayweather opponents have had -- sheer volume. No matter what weight class he's competed in, "The Ghost" has overwhelmed opponents with blizzards of blows. In his welterweight debut against Selcuk Aydin, Guerrero's 81 punches per round enabled him to win enough of the close rounds to come out on top. Aydin made that somewhat simpler by throwing just 44 per round, allowing Guerrero to out-land him 254-189 (total), 51-25 (jabs) and 203-164 (power).
In his last fight against Berto -- who, style-wise, is a very poor man's version of Mayweather -- Guerrero averaged 60.4 punches per round and held the notoriously frugal Berto to 34.2. That paved the way to a 116-110 win on all three judges' scorecards as well as connect bulges of 258-182 (total), 24-20 (jabs) and 234-162 (power). What was surprising -- and impressive -- was that the onetime 126-pound titlist had enough upper body strength to pin Berto to the ropes and go toe-to-toe with Aydin. For all Guerrero's positives at 147, there is one glaring negative that may spell his doom on the most lucrative night of his life...
Defensive Woes: Guerrero's volume and surprising strength weren't able to completely conceal his leaky defense. Berto landed 44% of his total punches and 50% of his power shots while Aydin connected on 36% of his overall punches and 43% of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts. The average welterweight takes 32% overall and 39% power, and given his sub-par defensive performances against Berto and Aydin, just imagine how a primed Mayweather -- who at his best is a legendary sharpshooter -- would do. The question is, however, will a 36-year-old Mayweather be truly primed for another virtuoso performance?
Prediction: The answer here is yes. While Mayweather's legs are nowhere near as springy as they used to be, everything from the waist up -- especially his brain -- remains at near-peak efficiency. Though both men have competed at 130, Mayweather has been at 147 for far longer so he'll be the naturally bigger man in terms of physicality and punch impact. Guerrero's best chance is to emulate the high-pressure volume punching Jose Luis Castillo achieved in their first fight -- which should have been Mayweather's first loss and the only time in 35 CompuBox-tracked fights he had been out-landed -- but Guerrero's leaky defense will be his Achilles' Heel. Mayweather by late-round TKO