For any boxer, landing a fight with pound-for-pound and pay-per-view king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is like hitting the lottery. It means a life-changing pay day in the millions and a huge spotlight.
Robert Guerrero, one of the stars of boxing -- but not well known to the mainstream -- got the winning lottery ticket on Tuesday when he officially landed a long-rumored fight with Mayweather, whom he will challenge for a welterweight world title on May 4 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight is Mayweather's first since bolting from career-long television home HBO to sign a boxing industry-shaking six-fight, 30-month deal with Showtime/CBS, which was announced in conjunction with Guerrero as his opponent earlier this week.
Guerrero has campaigned for the fight for more than a year and was thrilled to get word that he had it.
"Just excited, the family's excited," Guerrero said Thursday on a conference call with a handful of reporters, his first public remarks since getting the fight. "Couldn't be happier. This is the fight we've been looking for and training for. I'll be 100 percent prepared. I'm ready for the fight. We're getting that game plan together, me and my father (Ruben Guerrero, also his trainer), and not letting anything distract me. I can change gears and adapt. I'm pumped.
"I can't wait to show the world why I am the best fighter in the world."
Two weeks ago, Mayweather tweeted that injured welterweight titlist Devon Alexander, who already was under contract for another fight that was postponed, was the leading candidate to get the May 4 fight. No serious negotiations ever took place, according to Alexander promoter Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy, which has promoted Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) on a fight-by-fight basis since 2007.
Still, Guerrero saw the tweet and heard the speculation. He was concerned he might not get the fight. How does he feel now?
"Just relieved. A lot of relief," Guerrero said. "Throughout my career, I jumped through the weight classes because guys were ducking me, being right there and not being able to get the big fight because I was being avoided. So when you hear all the names coming up, Alexander, (Timothy) Bradley, you think, 'Is this guy (Mayweather) going to duck me or what?' So I was just relieved everything got signed and done and I can't wait for the fight.
"Definitely, I'm ready for (the spotlight). What God has put me through to be prepared for this, not just physically but mentally, all the stuff inside the ring and outside the ring, prepared me for this. It's time."
Guerrero said he plans to end Mayweather's undefeated run. He sees Mayweather as a fighter in decline.
"I see a lot of slippage. I see him slowing down as far as his legs not being as quick as they used to be," Guerrero said of Mayweather, who turns 36 on Sunday.
"But he is sharp in the ring. He puts more pressure on guys. I think that has to do with him not being able to move as good on his legs, where people think, 'Oh, he's changed his style.' But I just think that when you get older and your legs start to go, you have to change direction."
By the time he and Guerrero meet, Mayweather will have been off for one year since he outpointed Miguel Cotto in one of the toughest fights of his career. A month after the fight, Mayweather reported for a two-month jail term for a domestic abuse conviction.
"He's definitely ripe for the picking," said Guerrero, who has won titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, plus interim belts at lightweight and welterweight. "He's been out for a year. It does take a toll with that ring rust. I've experienced it, being out a year with that shoulder surgery (in 2011) and then getting back in the ring after jumping the two weight classes. It does take a toll on you.
"I think it's perfect timing (to be fighting Mayweather now), but you can't let that carry you through the day because Floyd Mayweather is a very sharp fighter, and even though he was in jail, and he was out (of the ring) for a year, the guy is in incredible shape and he's going to be ready, and I've got to be ready for him."
To get the fight, Guerrero did what all of Mayweather's opponents are required to do -- give him a rematch clause in the event he loses and also agree to random drug testing overseen by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
"He knows he's in for a dogfight and he has someone in front of him who won't back down. He knows he has someone who won't coward up on him. That's why he wanted a rematch clause," Guerrero said.
As for the drug testing, Guerrero said, "We're going to do the drug testing. He's real into that. I don't mind it. I got nothing to hide. I did it for (a November fight with Andre) Berto. I think it's a good thing for the sport."
Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs), who lives in Gilroy, Calif., but will train in Las Vegas, began calling out Mayweather in 2011, but at that point, he had never fought heavier than 138 pounds and was coming off rotator cuff surgery. Most laughed at the prospect of a fight with Mayweather, despite the relentless barrage of news releases from Team Guerrero calling for it.
Few are laughing now, however, because when Guerrero returned after the surgery and a 15-month layoff in July, he moved up to welterweight and took apart previously undefeated top-10 contender Selcuk Aydin in a unanimous decision to win a vacant interim 147-pound title.
In his prime at age 29, Guerrero followed that victory by scoring two knockdowns and laying a beating on Berto, a former welterweight titlist, for a clear decision victory in their November slugfest.
"I'm in the position I'm in," Guerrero said, "because I earned the spot."