By Ivan G. Goldman
After teasing us for weeks with the prospect of a showdown against Robert Guerrero on May 4, undisputed boxing king Floyd Mayweather now says he’s set for Devon Alexander instead, and that it’s practically a done deal.
“The negotiations for my fight are almost done,” Floyd tweeted Tuesday night. “The front-runner is IBF Champion Devon Alexander. It’d be a unification bout at welterweight.”
Maybe, maybe not. Mayweather says lots of things. Some of them turn out to be true and some don’t. For all we know that tweet was part of a ploy to get Guerrero to accept a smaller purse. Fighting Floyd for short money can still lead to immense treasure — providing you beat him. But of course so far no one’s been able to do it.
In terms of fan pleasure, is Guerrero or Alexander more likely to give us a better contest? Probably but not necessarily Guerrero, 31-1-1 (18 KOs). He’s tougher and harder to discourage. In his last three outings he claimed victories over a bad-ass line-up — Michael Katsidis, unbeaten Selcuk Aydin, and Andre Berto, all by unanimous decision. Berto was down twice. The Katsidis bout was a particularly nasty affair, with lots of point deductions for fouls. When the going gets tough, Guerrero, 29, doesn’t wilt and may turn dirty. His one loss was to Gamaliel Diaz by split decision, and Guerrero knocked him out in a rematch. Both were featherweight matches.
The draw on his record was a technical ruling when Guerrereo hit Julian Rodriguez on the break in the first round and Rodriguez said he couldn’t continue. Guerrero, though a good guy outside the ropes, can turn into a semi-madman after the opening bell.
And now Alexander, 24-1 (13 KOs). The relative youngster turns 26 this month. His one loss was a 10-round decision to Timothy Bradley. They went to the scorecards after Alexander couldn’t continue thanks to a series of “accidental” head butts caused by Bradley’s battering-ram head. Bradley’s practiced butts are well-known and should have been expected, but Alexander and his corner had no answer for them other than to complain bitterly to referee Frank Garza. However, they may have learned a thing or two since then.
Alexander grew up in an extremely rough neighborhood of St. Louis where all around him friends and family — when they were able to escape the gunfire — often did so by going to the penitentiary. If Alexander could survive that, he ought to be able to call on what’s in his gut, and against Mayweather he would almost certainly need it.
Both Alexander and Guerrero are excellent technical fighters who execute just about all their moves adeptly. They’re dangerous and can be explosive when they see the right moment. Neither is a one-punch knockout artist. Alexander hasn’t stopped anyone in his last five contests, and he lost one of them (to Bradley). Guerrero? He went straight from lightweight to welter but appears to handle the weight well. He also hasn’t scored a kayo in his last five outings.
And now we come to the king of welters and pound-for-pound king of all divisions — Mayweather, who holds the WBA crown. He’s 43-0 with 26 KOs and turns 36 this month. He’s fought only three times since 2009 but never shows ring rust. In his last outing, against Miguel Cotto, he proved his toughness, but his legs looked almost shot, which is why he went to the ropes so often. There his celebrated shoulder roll didn’t work quite so well, but he still did more damage to Cotto than Cotto did to him. The man’s a maestro in there.
In his previous outing, against Victor Ortiz, Mayweather proved his mastery early, frustrating Ortiz into throwing one of the stupidest head butts of all time in round four, followed by some of the worst officiating of all time by referee Joe Cortez. The ineptitude by Ortiz and Cortez allowed Floyd to throw a righteous, legal two-punch combination that finished off Ortiz, who wasn’t even watching his opponent.
Mayweather doesn’t step into that ring to lose, and he’s been the best out there for a long time. He may or may not have his Uncle Roger as a trainer. Roger’s illnesses have reportedly been more debilitating of late.
When we weigh Guerrero against Alexander as opponents, let’s not forget that Guerrero is of Mexican descent, and we’re probably still talking about the weekend of Cinco de Mayo. Floyd’s tweet (and identical Facebook message) didn’t make the date clear, but May 4 apparently remains the target. Does it make a difference in terms of building up the gate when there are no Mexicans in the main event? Probably, but in America, Cinco de Mayo now belongs to everybody, the same as St. Patrick’s Day — particularly for people looking for an excuse to drink themselves right down to the ground. Also, put a solid Mexicano in the co-event and it will probably work out.
The big question for this fight remains the same. Will speedy, polished, tough, wily Mayweather finally grow old in the ring? Stay tuned for excessive speculation on these matters in the coming weeks.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE