Boxing: Time is now for Guerrero

May Day: Mayweather vs. Guerrero

The wait is almost over for Robert Guerrero.

The born-and-raised Gilroyan boxer is a six-time, four-division world champion, but he’ll write the most anticipated chapter of his story Saturday night. And when Guerrero steps in the ring against pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., he plans to seize the moment.

“You know, it’s just the opportunity of a lifetime,” Guerrero said during a conference call with reporters. “To be in the sport that I’m in and to be at the top of the game, it’s just a feeling that you have to experience to know how it feels. So, I’m just very blessed, and I just can’t wait until after the fight to thank Jesus Christ for blessing me with this huge, huge opportunity.”

Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) will face Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) for Mayweather’s WBC welterweight title at 6 p.m. Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will be televised on Showtime Pay Per View.

Both fighters have talked a big game leading up to boxing’s most anticipated bout of the year, and the trash talk continued during recent media conference calls.

Mayweather is known as a virtuoso defensive fighter, but the 36-year-old Grand Rapids, Mich., native will be fighting for the first time since a 12-round unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012. Mayweather was released from jail in August after serving two months of a domestic-violence sentence.

Guerrero, a 30-year-old southpaw, has long claimed he can take advantage of decline in Mayweather’s skills.

“It’s been his longest training camp in a long time, and he’s putting in the work and the time that he needs to be ready for the fight,” Guerrero said. “But that isn’t going to make a difference, because I know his body size. You can see it. Being a whole year off, he’s going to feel the punches.”

Mayweather has offered on-and-off thoughts of respect toward Guerrero’s skills, but he insisted any talk of his own skills declining is hogwash.

“If that’s the way to psych yourself out, to build (Guerrero’s) confidence, then more power to him,” Mayweather said during a conference call with reporters. “Myself, I’m in tip-top shape. I’m in tip-top shape, tip-top condition. I’ve been in the gym working hard. So if that’s the way to psych yourself out, if that’s the way that he can get himself mentally prepared, then more power to him.”

Guerrero’s meteoric rise to boxing fame continued with his most recent fight, a 12-round unanimous decision over Andre Berto in Ontario, Calif., on Nov. 24.

After years of campaigning for a fight against Mayweather, Guerrero finally landed the fight of his life Feb. 19, when Mayweather’s camp announced a record six-fight deal with Showtime.

That deal caused speculation that Mayweather was already looking past Guerrero, possibly to a September showdown with undefeated light middleweight champion Saul Alvarez.

However, a rematch clause is part of the Guerrero-Mayweather deal, and Guerrero was shown in a recent episode of the Showtime “All Access” series saying that he will beat Mayweather, then return in September for a rematch.

The fallout from a Guerrero victory Saturday would be transcendent for Gilroy, which would suddenly have one of its own splashed across international media as the new face of boxing.

In a recent poll question on the Dispatch website, more than 75 percent of readers voted that a Guerrero victory Saturday would make Guerrero a more accomplished athlete than another famous Gilroyan, four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia.

“It’s just wanting to be the best in the sport, wanting to be at the top,” Guerrero said of seeking out Mayweather. “This is the guy. So, he’s the man to beat and he’s the man that if you beat him, you’re on top.”

Both fighters have been training in Las Vegas, which Mayweather calls home.

Guerrero sees reminders of his home in some of his training, which has included long runs around Mount Charleston, a scenic landmark just northwest of Las Vegas.

“The top of Mount Charleston, it tops out like at 11,000-feet elevation, so you’re getting the best of both worlds,” Guerrero said. “You’re getting a great run. You add the elevation, (and) it’s great for your endurance. We’re out in the farm town, and you get out in the country, it reminds you of home.”

Guerrero said he hasn’t been distracted since his March 28 arrest on gun charges at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

“No, I’m ready to go,” he said. “You know, there’s nothing stopping me from winning this fight. All the focus is there. I’m in training camp, I’m ready to go (and) that’s the bottom line.”

Guerrero’s next court date is May 14.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told the Dispatch on April 2 that Guerrero traveled with the gun because the Gilroy southpaw meant to use it at a Las Vegas shooting range as a hobby.

Asked by the Dispatch during a conference call April 24 to confirm Schaefer’s explanation, Guerrero said: “I’m only going to answer questions about boxing.”

Guerrero told ESPN on Tuesday following his arrival at the MGM that the gun charges are “all taken care of.”

“It’s all taken care of,” Guerrero told ESPN. “It was a misunderstanding. (Showtime) wanted to film me doing a thing here in Las Vegas. I’m an active fisherman, hunter. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it here. I was just unaware of New York City law.”

ESPN reported that Guerrero’s co-manager, Luis DeCubas Jr., quickly redirected questions Tuesday after reporters asked about the gun charges.

Guerrero was arraigned later March 28 on a four-count criminal complaint charging him with one count of criminal possession of a firearm and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, according to the Queens County District Attorney’s office. One day after celebrating his 30th birthday, Guerrero had been arrested and charged with illegally traveling with an unloaded pistol and three unloaded high-capacity bullet magazines.

The weapon, a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber gun, is registered to Guerrero in California, according to Kevin Ryan, director of communications for the Queens County District Attorney’s office. However, the gun is not registered in New York, which is among the toughest states in the country on gun laws. Guerrero could face up to seven years in prison if convicted, according to the Queens County District Attorney’s office.

NOTES

The weigh-in is set for 2:45 p.m. Friday. … StriXe Lounge in Morgan Hill will show Saturday’s fight on a first-come, first-serve basis. The cover charge for the Morgan Hill Bowl venue is $10 before 6 p.m., $15 after 6 p.m. … The fight also will be shown in several movie theaters in Santa Clara County. Details: fathomevents.com.

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