Boxing


Sharkie's Machine: Mayweather Backs Up His Talk And Dominates Gatti

26.06.05 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: It was hard watching Arturo Gatti lose his thunder (and his WBC Title) to the mastery that is Floyd Mayweather Jr. I was shocked at the short sightedness of Vivian Harris' performance against Carlos Maussa. June has been a big month for the Jr. Welter division. A couple of weeks ago, Ricky Hatton dethroned the mighty Kostya Tszyu and Miguel Cotto quietly but efficiently defended his WBO Title for a third time just two weeks ago.

Floyd needs attention and is all about being flashy to get it. He was carried into the ring on a palled chariot, wearing a fur laced hood and a smug look on his face. It was reminiscent of "Prince" Naseem Hamed's infamous ring entrance prior to being outclassed by Marco Antonio Barrera. Bad karma? Yeah, Floyd brought plenty.

Gatti stood in front of some fiery special effects accompanied by thunderous sounds. The packed house exploded with cheers as the working class hero made his way to the ring..

Arturo Gatti has improved his overall boxing skills under the tutelage of McGirt; his mobility and ring generalship have evolved so much that many experts now call him a boxer, instead of a brawler, which was what made him
famous.

Gatti was unable to implement any of his refinements Saturday night because Floyd Mayweather Jr. dictated the tempo at all times. Floyd completely dominated Gatti. He was too confident, too fast and too accurate for Gatti, who took a beat down in front of his hometown fans Saturday in Atlantic City NJ.

Boxing is the art of hitting without being hit and Floyd once again proved that he is the master of that skill. Arturo couldn't catch him with much of anything and when Mayweather let loose the leather, all Gatti could do was to instinctively cover up. Gatti was lost in the woods fighting Mayweather. He didn't know whether to box or brawl. Whatever he tried, didn't work.

There was not one competitive round in this fight that lasted all of six rounds. Maybe if Gatti did what comes naturally, like brawling, he might've had a chance to catch Floyd with something early on that might've slowed him down enough to have a shot. Hindsight is always 20/20. But Gatti chose to box outside with Floyd-a big mistake. The strain of Floyd's perfect execution of accurate combination punches derailed Gatti's confidence and sapped him of his will. It was brutal to watch. Gatti's cut man Joe Souza had to be feeling nostalgic, with his hands full, just like in the old days.

The referee, Earl Morton was quick to step between the fighters whenever Gatti got close enough to Floyd to initiate any offense. He warned Gatti a few times about nothing and often was in Gatti's way.

Late in the first round, Mayweather was pushing Gatti's head down and punching it when the ref yelled out, "Stop punching!" At that command, Gatti turned his attention to Morton for a second to complain about Mayweather's tactics, Floyd took advantage of Gatti 'not protecting himself at all times' and whacked him with an uppercut that put Gatti into the ropes and onto the canvas. Was it dirty? Yes. Was it illegal? Yes. If the ref says stop punching and you keep punching, that's a foul. It was definitely unsportsman-like conduct and worthy of at least a warning. I recall how easily Floyd heard Jim Lampley discussing the AFC Championship Football game with Roy Jones Jr. last January during the Henry Bruseles fight, where Floyd shouted to Lampley, "Patriots" in typical Floyd showboat fashion while out-boxing his unheralded opponent. There's no way he didn't hear Morton instruct them to stop punching.

Morton counted to 5 by the time Gatti got up-pissed that Morton was (sort of) responsible for that knockdown saying, "That was bullshit!" The truth is Gatti should never have taken his eyes off of his opponent, especially one like Mayweather, who has shown zero respect outside of the ring leading up to the fight. Did Gatti expect him to be a good sport in the ring? This wasn't Mickey Ward, God bless him; it was Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose arrogance is only exceeded by his lack of respect. From that moment on, Arturo was rattled. He must have felt like he was fighting Floyd and the ref.

It was a complete mismatch that favored Floyd on every level from the end of the first round until the sixth, when after Gatti's left eye was swollen shut, his whole face beaten to a pulp and his prospects of winning the fight too slim, his trainer, Buddy McGirt, mercifully threw the towel in.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the new owner of the paper WBC title Gatti used to own. Floyd got on his knees and cried in the center of the ring. One of his seconds kept chanting, "God is great, God is great." Floyd rose and was suddenly gracious. He hugged Arturo Gatti and spoke respectfully to him. During the post fight interview with HBO's Larry Merchant, he complimented Gatti for being, "a tough guy" and that he might win another title yet.

This, after all the disrespectful talk leading up to the fight, saying that Gatti was a paper champion, that his title was just a paper title and that Gatti is just a C level fighter? When Merchant called him on his prior remarks, Floyd said he only said those things to sell the fight. Yeah, sure. Floyd is about as sincere as he is likable.

Being a great fighter requires great discipline, stamina, accuracy, power, ring smarts and the proper state of mind. Being a nice guy, or even an honorable sort, is not a requirement-but it does sell tickets. In that regard, Gatti may have lost the fight but he is still a winner. His fans love him and won't miss any of his future fights. When asked his thoughts on the fight, Gatti said that Mayweather was a lot faster than he expected and was very tough to hit. He then said he will fight one more time at 140 then move up to 147. He said if that doesn't work out, it might be the end. Whatever he does, Arturo Gatti has been great for the sport and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as a representative in the category of Heart, Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Arturo Gatti won the hearts of fans by showing his big heart in memorable brawls that brought much needed dignity to a sport that's too often on the ropes. Like a regular guy, he's won some and lost some. No matter what, he always gave his all and for that, Gatti has a huge, loyal fan base. When he lost, he was well remembered. He is not as talented as Mayweather but he a noble quality that Mayweather sorely lacks. Most fans love and respect Gatti, who besides his willingness to fight under adverse conditions has always been a gentleman and a credit to the sport.

Gatti represents all hard working people who experience the ups and downs of reality and keep coming forward. Gatti is not a crème de la crème fighter like Mayweather, who is boxing's version of a thoroughbred racehorse but Gatti is someone I can root for, win or lose.

Fighting Mayweather was really a win-win situation for Gatti because if he won-he'd be a HUGE Hero. If he lost, he only lost to one of the most talented fighters of our era. There's no shame in that.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. possesses all the qualities that make a great boxer in the ring. What he doesn't possess, a likable personality-is in a way, irrelevant. While I would never want to hang out with Floyd, there's no denying his amazing talent in the ring.

Floyd said he wants more Pay-Per-View fights. Unless he fights Ricky Hatton next in England, I can't see any justification for his next fight being on PPV. I won't even go to the Bar where I catch my PPV's for the price of a few beers to see it. Not because Floyd's not a great talent, but because I don't like what he represents-pure arrogance. While Floyd is a gifted pugilist, he'll only be as big a draw as his opponents are because of his ugly attitude. But you have to give Floyd credit for one thing, though he never stops talking about how great he is, at least he can back it up.

* * *


Comments can be emailed to dshark87@hotmail.com

Article posted on 27.06.2005



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