Boxing


Mayweather Out of Gatti Fight: Will Gatti Look to Harris or Judah?

16.02.05 - By Umar ben-Ivan Lee: It is looking more and more like the inactive Floyd Mayweather Jr. , who fought in January against a B-level opponent and only fought once in 2004 after fighting two B-level opponents in 2003, will not be fighting Arturo Gatti on the June 11 HBO PPV after all. Bob Arum, the promoter of Gatti, all but confirmed this in a recent interview with a Michigan newspaper.

The reason for Mayweather not being able to fight is because of his sentencing hearing for a probation violation on a domestic violence case will be too close to the fight time and the uncertainty of whether he will be in jail or not is forcing Main Events and Team Gatti to look for a new opponent.

Mayweather has been saying for years that he is the best pound for pound fighter in the world and that he deserves to be paid accordingly. He once notoriously called one million-dollars for a fight from HBO slave-wages (I wonder what he will think about the twelve cents an hour prison wages) and has had a love-hate relationship with Top Rank. When the time finally does come and Top Rank and HBO get together to deliver him a PPV fight that he would have surely won.

Even though Mayweather has not fought an A-level opponent since 2002; when he struggled mightily against Jose Luis Castillo twice and most experts believe he should have lost the first Castillo fight, and he has done nothing in the last three and a half years to justify a top-five pound for pound ranking, Mayweather still would have surely easily defeated Gatti. This would have been a golden payday on a silver platter for Mayweather but instead he will more than likely be dining on noodles and crackers from the county jail commissary on fight night and hear the results via telephone.

The chance to fight Gatti, or whoever the WBC champion is after June 11 is still in the cards for Mayweather, who has said that he wants to fight four times in 2005, but it will not happen on that date and it more than likely will not be on PPV. Of course Mayweather has other attractive options like facing the winner of Kostya Tszyu-Ricky Hatton and Vivian Harris. On a business level; the Tszyu-Hatton winner will probably not happen and a Harris match-up may be too dangerous for too little money for Mayweather. Do not be surprised if Mayweather finishes out 2005 fighting the same kinds of B-level fighters that he has been looking so good against since 2003 or if he is inactive the rest of the year. If this happens I will challenge anyone to rationally explain why he is in their PFP top-ten.

The question now becomes who will Gatti be in with on June 11? They may have dodged a bullet watching Mayweather self-destruct and Main Events preciously wants to hold on to their very carefully matched cash cow Main Events WBA titlist Vivian Harris would be the obvious choice for boxing fans; but Harris would be heavily favored amongst people who are not in the Gatti fan club and Main Events and HBO would not want to see their man get dominated by a relative unknown on PPV. Other options exists for Gatti at 140 that are much safer for Gatti.

If Gatti really wants to claim a place amongst the elites of the sport; and not just be a blue-collar Northeastern folk-hero, then he should be looking to fight Harris or challenge undisputed Welterweight Champion Zab Judah.

A Judah fight would be a PPV worthy event and will give both fighters the chance to enhance their careers. Of course Judah would be heavily favored in such a contest, and rightfully so, but if Gatti wants to be considered anything more than a glorified B-level fighter than a chance to win an undisputed world championship should be a good opportunity. However, if Gatti is only interested in catering to the NHL crowd in New Jersey, and solely interested in making money, then he should fight another Jesse James Leija or Gianluca Branco. Gatti, because he is the one who brings the money to the fights and he has the star-power, is the one who will call the shots. Let's see if he will do what is right for the sport and fight Harris or Judah.



Umar ben-Ivan Lee may be contacted at keepslugging@hotmail.com

Article posted on 16.02.2005



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