Boxing


The Tales of Arturo and Floyd: Separating Fact From Fiction

07.03.05 - By Mike Samuels: Saturday gave boxing purists a dose of Jose Luis Castillo-Julio Diaz for Castillo’s portion of the lightweight title belt. . Jeff Lacy-Rubin Williams was featured on Showtime’s under card and gave young boxing fans - not yet gurus, mind you - a reason to get excited the next time someone mentions Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy’s name leading up to a fight. Ironically, even with Castillo and Lacy both scoring dramatic knockout victories over solid opposition, the biggest blow to the sport came without throwing a single punch.

WBC Champion Arturo Gatti broke news of his plans to move forward with a different opponent on June 11th on HBO other than WBC #1 ranked challenger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather Jr. The cancellation from Main Events and Gatti puts the flame out of the expected Pay Per-View fight between Gatti and Mayweather this summer and has given the boxing community plenty to question and complain about..

For starters, who is to blame for the purposed super-fight not coming off? Floyd Mayweather has said for months that he already signed the contract and was simply waiting for Gatti to do his end. However, Bob Arum has gone on the record denying that the contract was ever signed by Mayweather and that Mayweather has since refused to sign the contract on more than one occasion.

The facts to this present dilemma between Mayweather and Gatti aren’t exactly clear. Both sides are conveying different stories and for the most part the boxing public is picking Gatti’s version over that of Mayweathers. Bob Arum seemingly backing up Arturo Gatti should be no surprise to anyone who has followed his relationship to Floyd Mayweather. Although brash, arrogant and legally binded over the years, Mayweather has made a very good case to the mis-promotion of his talents while with Arum since turning pro almost ten years ago.

Taking a lot of the on going debates into consideration, one has to wonder why Gatti and Main Events - or even Arum at that - are pressing for time to promote the fight. June 11th is more than 3 months away and while most people could care less about Floyd Mayweather, they know more than enough about Arturo Gatti and when he fights. People want to see this fight. People have wanted to see this fight for a long time now and realistically speaking - a term that should be used loosely in the sport - Gatti-Mayweather shouldn’t need more than a month to promote itself and sell. Everyone in the sport knows this, and if one tries to sit and come up with the suggestion that three months is needed to get people to buy Gatti-Mayweather on PPV they are simply buying time to lie to someone. Which, honestly, wouldn’t be surprising. This is boxing remember.

With everything Bob Arum knows about promoting fights, the public has good reason to believe that Main Events doesn’t want Arturo Gatti stepping into the ring with Floyd Mayweather. Main Events knows that Gatti is one of the biggest cash cows in the sport and a loss to Mayweather would damage their profits by a wide margin. Maybe not that wide, but in boxing pennies have always mattered. Gatti can fight off of PPV against a less viable opponent for less money and still come out strong and with a pretty decent amount of money in his back pocket. That scenario seems to be the one Main Events has chosen and the reasoning behind it makes all the sense in the world.

On the flip side, it is a terrible move for Floyd Mayweather not to face Arturo Gatti. Even if you place all the blame on Gatti and Main Events, Mayweather needs to swallow his ego and take less money to make sure he is in the ring with Gatti on June 11th. A win over Gatti would give Mayweather his third title in as many divisions and allow his proceeding fights to make him quite a bit of money also.

The scenario is somewhat similar to that of Vivian Harris refusing to fight Ricky Hatton because he wasn’t given the money he felt he deserved. Harris is still looking for an opponent when he could be training to fight Hatton instead. Plus, a win for Harris over Hatton would give him more options than an offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers of the 80's. But he chose his ego instead of a fight. Floyd Mayweather is now possibly making the same mistake with Arturo Gatti.

Another aspect to look at is the mandatory position Mayweather is in. Gatti has taken two fights (Dorin, Leija) that were completely unnecessary. By doing so he has continuously avoided his mandatory, Floyd Mayweather. Now that he will not be facing Mayweather in June it is time for the WBC to take action. If the case is true for Gatti then the WBC should strip Mayweather of his number 1 position for refusing to fight the champion.

This hardly makes as much sense as people tend to believe, though. When talking about Mayweather - putting aside his attitude and problems outside the ring - you are talking about a guy that fought Genaro Hernandez for the legit jr. lightweight title with not even 20 fights under his professional career. You are also talking about a guy that moved up to the lightweight ranks and took on Jose Luis Castillo twice without a single tune up fight. Not to mention that Frank Warren and Ricky Hatton turned down a fight with Mayweather earlier last year. Knowing all of this, it should lead the boxing public to a lot of suspicions concerning the cancellation on Gatti’s part.

If Mayweather’s case is proven, however, then Gatti should fight on June 11th without the luxury of the WBC jr. welterweight title around his waist. No questions about it. Gatti is hardly the type of fighter to turn down a fight, but it shouldn’t be ruled out that Main Events knows what they have, and they may not want to take a chance to mess it up.

You could consider this going out on a limb, but one aspect to this whole dilemma between Gatti-Mayweather could simply be that Gatti and Main Events - and even Mayweather - are bluffing to stir up emotions in hopes to boost pay per-view sales in the summer. Knowing that Gatti is the champion and that he must defend against his mandatory before being stripped, this idea would not only be smart but it may just work. I wouldn’t put it past Bob Arum or anyone involved in the making of the fight at that.

Mike Samuels can be reached for comments at Tyson180@aol.com

Article posted on 07.03.2005



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