Guerrero sets his sights at the top of the world

On the morning of the 29th of May 1953 Edmund Hillary stood looking up at the summit of Everest: A mountain that until that point had ruthlessly defied every attempt to conquer it. The chance to be the first man to set foot on the very top of world was firmly within his grasp and he was under no illusion that the effort required would be massive. It would demand every ounce of his willpower and strength. Anything less would result in failure.

On the 4th of May 2013 Robert Guerrero will face the boxing equivalent of Everest in the form of Floyd Mayweather Jr. For Guerrero this is not a step up in class: It’s far beyond that. This will be the ultimate test of his skills, durability and his will to win. He will pit each of these attributes against a proud and supremely conditioned boxer who has turned back each and every challenge to his supremacy for over two decades. But as Robert Guerrero contemplates what many see as the pinnacle of boxing, he does not seem daunted. He has the look of a man who’s not intimidated in any way; a man who is has absolute clarity on the magnitude of the challenge that lies ahead.

He was a lightweight when he first called out Mayweather, who at that time was twelve pounds heavier and two divisions due north. The suggestion that he should share a ring with consensus best fighter on the planet drew little attention apart from a few dry chuckles from boxing writers and fight fans. Most surmised that this was merely a marketing ploy, an audacious attempt at linking his name to a name that has headlined some of the largest pay-per-view events in the history of the sport. Surely he wasn’t serious?

But Robert Guerrero was deadly serious and chose to demonstrate this intent by skipping over the Light-Welters to fight two top ten welterweights back to back: Selcuk Aydin, undefeated at the time, and Andre Berto, a two time belt-holder. He obviously had no time for the almost obligatory soft fight to get acclimatized to the heavier weight. He wanted to make an emphatic statement and he did.

Guerrero won both fights by unanimous decision, unveiled a surprising physicality and almost brutal approach not evident in his previous encounters. After defeating Aydin in a close but clear points victory, the dry chuckles made way for raised eyebrows. Was there a new player at 147? The doubts remained and leading up to his fight with Berto more than a few picked against him citing Berto’s considerable advantages in both speed and power.

Once again Guerrero’s blunt refusal to be denied was manifest in a bruising and ruthless dismantling of Andre Berto. Robert Guerrero had loudly announced that he belonged in the division. His continued demand for a crack at the title no longer sounded far-fetched and it was crystal clear to all that win, lose or draw he was out to hurt whoever shared the ring with him.

History tells us that at 11:30am, 29 May 1953 Edmund Hillary became the first man to scale Everest. He left us with this piece of wisdom: “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” A profound quote that spoke volumes of the sheer willpower that was required to drag his exhausted body to summit. Guerrero possesses a similar uncompromising focus but will it be enough to be the first the beat Mayweather?

In all likelihood not: Mayweather may have slowed at age 36 but he remains a defensive genius with ring generalship and adaptability second to none. Guerrero will find it extremely difficult to land anything clean, and to be competitive he will need to take the fight in close. He already knows that Mayweather’s accuracy will make him pay dearly as he closes the distance but Guerrero will not allow Mayweather to dictate the range and pace.

Guerrero will make Mayweather fight every minute for all twelve rounds and he will do damage and not all of it will be clean. There will be a fair share of elbows and clashing of heads and blood. In the end when the scores are tallied Robert Guerrero will not have his hand raised. Floyd Mayweather will leave the ring with his perfect record intact, battle-worn, truly tested and yet elevated by the man he bested. In defeat, Guerrero will leave unbowed, unrepentant and proud: A warrior.

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