(Warning: Video contains strong language so viewer discretion is advised.)
LAS VEGAS – It's hard to pinpoint when it first happened, perhaps late in 2009 or early in 2010. Robert Guerrero was an anonymous lightweight fighting even more anonymous opponents, yet, after nearly after bout, in almost every public appearance, his message was the same:
I want to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. next.
Guerrero had the audacity to call out the best fighter in the world even though said fighter was competing several weight divisions above him.
Few took Guerrero seriously and reporters struggled to change the topic to something more grounded when he'd bring up his desire to fight Mayweather. There was no point, the logic went, of talking and writing about a fight that was almost certainly never going to happen.
Guerrero and his team were nothing if not determined, though, and they never gave up hope. In late 2011, Guerrero's publicist solicited reporters' opinions about a potential Mayweather-Guerrero match, though Mayweather had no idea at the moment who Guerrero was.
"I probably had heard his name somewhere," Mayweather said. "Probably. [Manny] Pacquiao's name I knew. Zab Judah. But I'm in a whole new era of fighters. I'm a promoter, but if you ain't making crazy noise – I mean, crazy, crazy noise – I probably ain't [heard of you]."
Rest assured, though, that Mayweather has subsequently discovered plenty about Guerrero, a humble, God-fearing sort who is just crazy enough to believe he can become the first man to defeat Mayweather since Bulgarian Serafim Todorov won a hotly disputed decision at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Mayweather will defend his WBC welterweight title against Guerrero on Saturday in a Showtime pay-per-view bout at the MGM Grand Garden in, by leaps and bounds, the most significant match of Guerrero's career. It's a match that is a reward for Guerrero's seemingly unfounded faith in himself.
Despite all the behind-his-back snickers, Guerrero never lost faith, not even when he was widely viewed as a hopeless romantic for thinking it was even possible to come into Mayweather's field of vision.
"I'm all about fighting the best guys, and he was the best, so I just called him out," Guerrero said. "I knew that if I didn't believe in myself and tell people what I wanted, nobody was going to do it for me. I always felt that if I kept beating good guys and I kept doing things people didn't think I could do, I'd get the fight sooner or later."
Despite the hoopla that a fight with Mayweather inevitably brings, despite his March arrest in New York for trying to bring a gun onto a plane and despite his father/trainer, Ruben, appearing to come apart at the seams in the final days before the bout, Robert Guerrero has seemed unfazed.
There was plenty of fawning on Mayweather from the stream of speakers at the final news conference inside the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre. Much was made of Mayweather fighting at home in Las Vegas, but Guerrero at least showed the right attitude.
When Guerrero was introduced by a noticeably nervous Oscar De La Hoya after Ruben Guerrero had said Mayweather and his father, Floyd Sr., were women beaters, Robert Guerrero calmly walked to the podium and finally had his say.
"You guys talk about this being Floyd Mayweather's home," Guerrero said, icily, "but [on Saturday], I'm doing a home invasion."
He's probably going to try to fight Mayweather similarly to the way he fought Andre Berto in November. He'll apply as much pressure as he can and throw a high volume of punches.
[Related: Road to 43-0: Floyd Mayweather's biggest wins ]
That tactic worked against Berto in large part because Berto is one of the easiest top-level welterweights in the world to hit. Mayweather, though, is one of the most difficult to hit, if not the most, and he's one of the best counter punchers in recent vintage.
While Mayweather insists he's learned from the mistakes he made in last year's win over Miguel Cotto, he came across as dismissive of Guerrero's chances when he broke down Guerrero's record.
"I look at certain things like [former champion Joel] Casamayor going the distance with him at the age of ," Mayweather said. "You've got to look at certain things like that and then you've got to say, 'Well, is this guy on the same level of a Floyd Mayweather?' You ask yourself those certain questions.
"Or, like, him having a dog fight with [Michael] Katsidis, and then you've got guys like [Juan Manuel] Marquez who knocked Katsidis out. So you know, I just look at that and that's how I weigh certain situations."
Mayweather is 36 and isn't as blazingly quick as he once was. Guerrero, though, showed poise when asked whether Mayweather has lost speed.
"Yeah, he's slowed down a bit, but you know what?" Guerrero said. "Floyd Mayweather, his slow is faster than mostly everybody else. You can't take that into consideration. You can't judge a guy by his last fight because he might not come the same the next fight."
[Related: What you may not know about Floyd Mayweather]
That answer showed that he hasn't lost his head, that he understands what he's up against.
Mayweather is a 7-1 favorite and it's hard to envision him losing, particularly to a guy who has had only two fights at welterweight and only 10 of his 35 bouts above featherweight.
Then again, it was hard to imagine that guy getting the shot against Mayweather in the first place.
"I have the right fights to be here," Guerrero said. "I have the right experience to be here. Now, it's time to put it all to work."
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