Mayweather-Gatti: Can "Pretty Boy" Handle The Pressure?

21.06.05 - By Patrick Corcoran: What was already one of the most intriguing 140-pound match-ups in a long time (well, at least since Tszyu-Hatton, which was all of two and a half weeks ago) now has the additional flavor brought on by a mutual antipathy from the fighters. Floyd Mayweather, who has seen himself in lights since he was old enough to tie his own shoes, has given none of standard assessment of an opponent going into Saturday’s showdown with Arturo Gatti. Rather than saying, “He’s a great warrior, I’m just proud to be in the ring with him,” or some clichéd words to that effect, Floyd has taken to the airwaves calling Gatti a bum, a c-plus fighter, and man who has never beaten anyone of note.

Gatti, who has in fact beaten some credible opponents (more in the past year than the Pretty Boy has, to boot), understandably disagrees with Mayweather’s impression. Gatti, and his legion of fans, say that Mayweather has never been in a fight with a guy like Gatti: a man who’ll fight with one eye if not one leg and will throw rocks from start to finish.

Gatti fans, who will be out in force in Atlantic City to cheer him on, point to his recent growth under trainer Buddy McGirt as a sign of what Mayweather can expect. Not even Kostya Tszyu blew through James Leija quite the way Gatti did, and Thunder’s body shot KO of Leonard Dorin was likewise impressively devastating. The McGirt-led Gatti is another animal entirely from the young Gatti, who would produce more action in a good round than Mayweather has in his entire career, but would get hit a way too much for comfort. But this new Gatti, he has all the fire without any of the deficiencies, and if Mayweather thought he had a tough opponent in Jose Luis Castillo, well he may learn a new definition of tough on Saturday

Or so goes the argument familiar to the Gatti fans.

Mayweather has always lacked that vast fan base to make arguments on his behalf, which is perhaps the source of his disrespect to Gatti. Mayweather, unarguably one of the sports greatest talents, has always lacked the major paydays and superstar acclaim that Gatti owns. It is only with an action fighter like Gatti that Mayweather his finally getting a pay-per-view card: a fighter who will fill the stadium with his fans and whose track record for entertaining fights make the fight much easier to sell than does Mayweather’s expertise alone.

All that could have Floyd a bit riled. He claims that he will punish Gatti for this sort of success that has long eluded him, but if he wants to be assured of a win, he needs to be less focused on punishment and more concerned with boxing. While Mayweather is unquestionably a better boxer and the more gifted athlete, the warrior bit about Gatti the warrior is more than sales pitch. He will throw mean, dangerous punches at Floyd for twelve rounds, unless his face gets too sliced up for him to continue. If Floyd’s anger at Arturo and desperation for fans cause him to take a few more chances, he could be walking into a world of trouble.

Just because Floyd destroyed Diego Corrales almost five years ago doesn’t mean that he is ready to trade with a real junior welterweight puncher. If Mayweather doesn’t understand that, than he may not be undefeated on Sunday morning.

Article posted on 21.06.2005

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