Former Floyd Mayweather foe explains why Conor McGregor will struggle despite southpaw 'advantage'

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist

Robert Guerrero has a unique perspective when it comes to how the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor might play out.

Guerrero, a former boxing world champion who fights Omar Figueroa on Fox on July 15, is a mixed martial arts fan and is friends with MMA fighters Josh Thomson, Gilbert Melendez and Nate Diaz.

He’s left-handed, like McGregor, and he fought Mayweather on May 4, 2013.

UFC president Dana White said during a conference call to announce the Mayweather-McGregor fight that if there is a potential weakness for Mayweather, it is against southpaws.

“I mean, listen, is he at the level of a Floyd Mayweather, as far as boxing standards go? No,” White said of McGregor. “But the kid, first of all, is a southpaw, and people can, you know, argue one way or another. Floyd, traditionally, if you want to say there’s ever been a kink in the armor with that kid, it’s with southpaws, and Conor McGregor is an absolute knockout artist.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor will meet in the ring on August 26. (Yahoo Sports illustration)

Mayweather is 49-0 overall and 9-0 with four knockouts against southpaws. Not counting the rounds where he’s gotten finishes, he’s fought 64 complete rounds against them that were scored by the judges. With three judges in each fight, that means that there were 192 scored rounds. He won 159 of those rounds, or 82.8 percent.

Guerrero said when he was watching video of Mayweather as they prepared to fight, he felt he saw weaknesses or at least things he could take advantage of in the ring.

But when the bell rang, it was a different story. Mayweather defeated Guerrero by unanimous decision, winning nine of the 12 rounds on all three judges’ cards. It was Mayweather’s speed and quickness that Guerrero couldn’t see on video that was the difference.

“Being a fight fan myself and watching MMA fights, I don’t think there is anybody nearly as fast as Floyd Mayweather in that sport,” Guerrero said. “That’s a problem with everybody who gets in with Floyd Mayweather, dealing with his speed.

“From the outside looking in, it doesn’t look as fast as it is when he’s right in front of you. And Floyd’s reaction time, wow, it’s just beyond anything you might imagine. Look at myself being a lefty, Manny Pacquiao being probably the fastest lefty out there, we had great trouble dealing with Floyd’s speed.”

Mayweather is not only lightning quick, but he has advanced footwork that walks his opponents into trouble, Guerrero said. That, combined with Mayweather’s speed, quickness and reaction time, is a major issue for anyone.

“Most of his shots are reaction,” Guerrero said. “He sees what you’re doing and he knows what you’re trying to do and when you take that step, his reactions are so quick that – Bam! – he catches you. That is so hard to deal with.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr. lands a punch on Robert Guerrero during their 2013 bout. (Getty)

When Mayweather turned pro following the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Top Rank’s Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler pitted him against all sorts of styles so that he would be familiar with them when he got to the championship level.

“Floyd coming into the pros had such extensive amateur experience and he had seen so many different styles, that he already knew how to handle whatever he might see,” Trampler said. “You could see he had a chance to be special. His team asked us to give him guys that would help him hone his skills against the guys he would be fighting, and we did that. But Floyd was one of those guys coming into the pros who could already fight well against every style out there.”

Guerrero said he would advise McGregor to find the fastest sparring partners he can find, and that instead of focusing on throwing big knockout blows, he should concentrate on what he called “smooth and quick punches with nice, snap technique.”

There is, Guerrero said, another edge Mayweather has on opponents that most don’t realize. He’s able to tire opponents out because he makes them swing and miss more than most boxers.

That, Guerrero said, takes a toll.

“Definitely, it’s less energy to land a punch than to miss a shot,” Guerrero said. “We were talking about that yesterday. When you slip a shot, that’s so important, because A) you’re not being hit, but B) it’s more tiring than it is to land something. I tell the young kids I work with, shadow boxing eight, nine or 10 rounds is tougher than hitting the bag. … Missing just takes so much out of you, and then a guy like Floyd, not only does he make you miss a lot of shots, but he’s countering you every time you miss a shot, picking and poking at you. It drains you and it starts to frustrate you. When you lose your head in a fight, you tire out mentally and there is so much that goes on after that that a lot of people don’t realize.”

Guerrero said he had no problem with McGregor getting the bout with Mayweather as opposed to another boxer, because he said the Irishman will bring “the whole MMA world with him. That will be good for boxing and good for MMA.”

But he said even the notion that McGregor will be the bigger puncher may not be accurate.

“People are underestimating Floyd’s power against McGregor,” Guerrero said. “You have to look at MMA fighters. Most of them start fighting in high school or later in their years. Floyd was throwing punches pretty much as soon as he was pretty much walking. He was born into the fight game. His punches are so right on point in terms of technique. He knows how to put his body weight behind them, knows how to shift, knows how to turn you into angles to land the punch right on the button that will do damage. Most MMA fighters throw those big hard punches that try to pound you down.

“The difference, I think, is like this: You can have a guy out there with an AK-47 just shooting a lot of bullets all over, and you have a guy like Floyd Mayweather who is out there behind the scope of a sniper rifle who will take you out with one shot instead of wasting all that ammo.”

More from Yahoo Sports:
Woj: Celtics working to land George and Hayward
The secret of The Freeze, baseball’s runaway hit
Vick, T.O. launching new flag football league
Watch: LaVar Ball’s ridiculous WWE appearance