Guerrero's exhaustive pursuit finally pays off


In those times over the past few years when media from all dots on a global map heard from Robert Guerrero’s people, I would think of the Inyo National Forest, which covers parts of California and Nevada and stretches some 2 million acres.

I would wonder how many more trees had fallen in Guerrero’s pursuit of landing a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

My hope for the Guerrero camp in such moments: Do a better job preserving the environment, one fewer news release at a time.

“Who hasn’t been calling me out?” Mayweather asked. “They call me out from the highest weights to the lowest. When you’re at the pinnacle of your sport, you should expect it. Comes with the territory.”

Maybe not like this.

David Plouffe might have helped Barack Obama get elected president twice, but he has nothing on those working for Guerrero. The former world featherweight and super featherweight champion and those around him chased this moment like Kyle Busch does a checkered flag, relentless in their desire to make it happen.

It’s here now, and no one can accuse Guerrero — or his trainer/father, Ruben — of walking quietly into the ring, although I’m guessing with all those dead trees, Ruben’s oxygen levels were compromised, which would explain a lot.

The son’s shot at history arrives tonight when Guerrero encounters Mayweather in a WBC welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where the hype will cease and the challenger will know whether wins against Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto in this division gained him enough experience to handle the world’s best.

Know this: If confidence has anything to do with Guererro pulling off the upset, the 30-year-old from California shouldn’t be immediately dismissed.

“The first thing (Mayweather) asked for was a rematch clause in the (contract),” Guerrero said. “That shows me where his head is at. He knows what he’s getting into. He’s undefeated. He’s 43-0. I’ve heard it over and over. He has said it a million times. I’m going to go in there and beat him down. That’s what he needs to worry about. After that, he can get ready for his rematch.”

I’m not convinced Guerrero, dangerous southpaw or not, can overcome the pressure of fighting under such bright lights and against the best opponent he has faced.

I do know that to have any chance, he better be smarter inside the ring than he has proven to be outside of it.

Trash talk came and went this week, and Mayweather held his own when speaking about the four felony charges Guererro faces in New York for allegedly attempting to bring a .40-caliber handgun and three unloaded magazines onto a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport in March.

“If God has your back,” Mayweather said when referring to Guerrero’s consistent praise of the almighty, “why are you carrying a gun?”

It makes you wonder where all the enablers and hangers-on who top fighters employ were at such a moment for Guerrero, who insists the episode was a misunderstanding, has been taken care of and will not result in jail time.

Authorities in New York might disagree, given Guerrero faces a May 14 hearing and up to four years if convicted on all charges.

Mayweather is fighting for the first time since serving a jail sentence for misdemeanor battery domestic violence and harassment charges, and he gladly pointed out this week Guerrero too might be facing incarceration.

It was one attempt by the champion to bother Guerrero, along with calling him a hypocrite, suggesting he has used his wife’s battle with leukemia for sympathy leading into tonight and pretending not to have known much about him before the fight was made.

Don’t believe the last part for a second.

“He’s the best in the world and a promoter, so it’s his job to know about all top fighters,” Guerrero said. “I hear stuff like that and laugh. He knew all about me. We’re all hypocrites. We’re all sinners. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. I don’t need sympathy for my (wife) to win a fight. At the end of the day, talent will take care of that.

“This is no different. Different name for (the opponent), but same as always.”

Oh, it’s not the same, which is why Guerrero pursued this moment like few fighters anyone can remember.

Well, it’s here now.

One good thing to come of it: The trees of Inyo National Forest are much safer today.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.