Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero has been telling anyone who would listen, including me, that he wanted a fight against Floyd Mayweather as far back as April 2011. For much of the two years since, he's either been ignored or scoffed at by both fans and media alike.
However, after moving up to Welterweight and establishing himself as one of the top fighters in the division with wins over Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto, all the while continuing to push and push for the Mayweather fight, he finally gets his chance on May 4, in a Showtime Pay-Per-View televised bout in Las Vegas.
Guerrero (30-1-1, 18 KOs) overcame a great deal to reach this point, and after everything he's been through, you can be sure that he'll be doing his best to make the most of this opportunity.
It wasn't just the physical injuries and setbacks that he's had, or his difficulty in tracking down big name opponents. The largest struggle came in his personal life, as his wife Casey battled and finally beat Leukemia after receiving a bone marrow transplant.
"I believe [God] put me in this position for a reason," Guerrero said during a recent media call. "He put me through so much stuff, stuff that you only see in the movies... What he put my through has me prepared for this. Not just physically, but mentally, inside the ring and outside the ring. It has me ready for this. It's time."
Guerrero is insistent that there are several core differences between himself and some of the other fighters that Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) has been facing. He's confident that these differences will end up paying off on fight night, and leading to victory.
According to him, some of Mayweather's opposition as of late has been a bit middling. "He's been picking and choosing fights," Guerrero said. "That's why I'm excited that I'm in the position that I'm in, earning this spot. He's actually going to be fighting somebody who earned it."
For Guerrero, the word "earned" here is hugely important.
"I was not given this opportunity, it was well-earned," Guerrero said. "It was very well-earned, I've had the right fights. I'm in my prime, and also I have the right experience to be in the ring with him."
Guerrero offers a unique and formidable challenge for Mayweather. He's a southpaw, he's rangy at 5'9", he's young and hungry, and he can both give a punch and take a punch.
Additionally, it's his ability to adapt in the ring and fight with intelligence that Guerrero believes will enable him to get the win.
"Knowing how to use those tools," Guerrero said, is a major key to victory. "There's a difference between having those tools and being able to know how to use them... That's what the difference is and that's the advantage I have over all these other fighters going into a Floyd Mayweather fight, is being able to use my tools and make the adjustments and use them properly."
Most importantly of all though is Guerrero's mental strength, and his faith, forged over the trials and tribulations of his life.
"There's people that say they can beat him. They don't have faith in beating him. I have faith in beating him," Guerrero said.
Therefore, the real secret to Guerrero's success is as simple as that -- faith.
"The real reason is I put God first and I fight with his strength," he said. "I really believe and have a lot of faith in my abilities that he blessed me with. A lot of fighters go in there doubting themselves. I don't doubt myself for one minute. I know what God blessed me with, and I'm going to go and put it to work."
Guerrero's faith has him confident of his own success. But even as he has slowly convinced the world that he deserves this opportunity, he's still not exactly being perceived as a threat to ending Mayweather's unbeaten run.
The opening odds on the Mayweather vs. Guerrero fight show Guerrero as high as an 11-1 underdog. Being the underdog though is nothing new to Guerrero, and it's something he doesn't care about, either.
"Odds don't mean nothing to me," Guerrero said. "At the end of the day, you have to go in there and fight. The odds can be in your favor, but you still have to get in there and fight. I'm going to take care of business, and not worry about odds."
As for Mayweather, regardless of those odds, he has been respectful of Guerrero thus far.
"Robert Guerrero is a champion," he said at a recent press conference. "For this guy to be mentioned with some of the top fighters in today's time, he must have done something right or correct in his career. This is a guy who I know I can't overlook; I have to push myself to the limit."
Guerrero has earned that respect. He has scratched and clawed for years, for a lifetime, to get into this position. So what's he going to do about it on May 4?
"Shock the world and show everybody how powerful [God] is when you have faith in him," Guerrero said.
"I'm a man of faith, and a man of God, and I really feel that God put me in this position for a reason, not just to humble the boxing world, but to humble Floyd Mayweather... I really believe I'm going to go in there and dominate this fight."
Floyd Mayweather beware. There's an 11-1 underdog coming your way, and he's a man on a mission.
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com, where you can find breaking news stories, interviews, rankings and more. You can also follow Jake and ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.
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- Floyd Mayweather
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