By Joseph Santoliquito
LAS VEGAS (CBS) — There used to be a time when a passing wind or an ant crossing a sidewalk would set off Floyd Mayweather. It doesn’t seem like it anymore.
Mayweather, the undisputed best fighter in the world, is making his return to the ring after serving two months of a three-month sentence in a misdemeanor domestic battery case last year.
“Money” will be taking on WBC welterweight champion Robert Guerrero Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas—and mark the first time Mayweather will be fighting on Showtime pay-per-view.
It also comes with Mayweather, 36, returning to the ring after a year layoff, since he dismantled rugged Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012. Mayweather has taken off long stretches before, the longest of which was a 21-month stint, from Dec. 8, 2007 to Sept. 19, 2009, when Money returned to beat Juan Manuel Marquez. He once took off 16 months, between May 1, 2010, after beating shopworn Shane Mosley, to blast out immature, and inexperienced Victor Ortiz, on Sept. 17, 2011.
What will be different about Mayweather’s comeback for this fight with Guerrero, a southpaw who carries a 31-1-1, 1 no-contest (18 KOs) record?
Mayweather will win, improving on his pristine 43-0 (26 KO) resume. The hovering question that looms is how dominating will his performance be?
In the past, a glowering Mayweather was so much better than everyone that he’d leave the ring with hardly a scratch on his intact, smiling face. Against Cotto, whose reflexes aren’t what they used to be, Mayweather left the ring with his face far more marked up than it’s ever been in his career.
Guerrero will land some shots. He’ll press Mayweather into a few uncomfortable moments. He may even show that the once unhittable Mayweather has a sturdier chin than most thought.
But Guerrero won’t beat a man who lives and breathes boxing. Mayweather is a lot of things to a lot of different people, but one thing he has continued to stay the course throughout his career is his commitment to his craft.
Success has a way of changing athletes. Make them stray from what got them to the top. Soft living and clinging sycophants at your every disposal can alter a work ethic. It hasn’t changed Mayweather. Whether it’s two in the morning, or five in the afternoon, he has an addiction that’s been imbedded in him since his childhood—and that’s working out and training.
“Obviously, Robert Guerrero has done something right to get here,” Mayweather said. “He’s the best out there. I’ve pushed myself to the limit. I’ve done all I can do to be the best I can be.”
What could be missing, what after all of these years was the underlying tenet that’s made Mayweather great, was his seething, fast-twitch temper. It’s a bottomless reservoir that always sustained him during training, during difficult times. But his prison stint seems to have changed him.
“If anything, I think, it’s made me step back and not take everything I have for granted,” Mayweather said a few months ago. “It’s humbled me. I went from someone who could go anywhere, and do anything when I wanted, to being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to get up in the morning.”
Hopefully, it hasn’t taken too much of the steam that made Mayweather this decade’s best fighter.
“I know what people think,” Guerrero said. “I know no one gives me a legitimate shot. But that 0 has to go. Records are made to be broken. Mayweather’s record is going to be broken. He’s going to have his first loss. You better believe that because I’m ready to go. I can’t wait.”
We’ll find out for sure Saturday night.