27.06.05 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: Well Arturo Gatti was not a 3-1 underdog for nothing, and the question is was it because he was that overrated by many or was it because Floyd Mayweather was so damned good? In my opinion, the result of this fight shows that the answer is really a little of both. The bad part is, of course, that Floyd Mayweather knew this. When he called Gatti a “C+ Paper Champ,” I didn’t quite agree that Gatti was C+, but I understood exactly what he meant, and, that is, Gatti is overrated as a boxer.
Article posted on 27.06.2005
Yes, Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti 1 was the best fight I have ever seen live to date, and, yes, the trilogy wasn’t too shabby either, but lets face it, neither Ward nor Gatti were at the elite class, and the combined 15 odd losses they had going into that war are a testament to that. I love both guys, don’t get me wrong; They have heart, they were both blood and guts warriors but, hey, fact is fact, they were simply not on the Mayweather, Hatton, Tszyu level as fighters.
Arturo Gatti got a title, thanks to good management and good maneuvering, not good accomplishments, in my opinion, and that is really the problem. Who was Silvio Branco? We may never know, but that is who Arturo beat (and not badly at that) to get his belt. Jesse James Leija, who is another one of the Gatti, Ward, warrior types, didn’t fool me as a title defense either, as I am sure he didn’t fool any fan.
I saw shades of Gatti-Gamache in that fight, because of the amazing size difference in favor of Gatti. All of that done to build Gatti up as a “credible” champion, and then sell him off for a big profit (for everyone), to one of the elite in the world.
Enter Floyd Mayweather. You know, in my mind, nobody can deny that Mayweather is the most talented fighter in the world today. The guy was bred for this business, and he was born for it with the precise skills, and precise knowledge to become a hall of famer. The guy knows boxing inside and out, and back again, and yet he is missing the one key element that will make him a fan favorite, and that is the ability to speak the truth.
Floyd Mayweather only gave us the half of it, when he called Gatti basically overrated. The reason being, that if Gatti is overrated, then Mayweather has no business being in the ring with him in the first place, and instead, he should be giving us the real reason why he took this fight, that, of course, being the money. You can’t fool real fans, who will buy the PPV, regardless of whether Mayweather calls his opponent A or C class, however, you can absolutely alienate yourself when you don’t tell them the truth, which contrary to popular belief, is what fans REALLY want to hear, and not how great a fighter is (or isn’t at that).
Ricky Hatton isn’t afraid to speak the truth, Kostya Tszyu isn’t afraid to say it, and even though they are less physically talented than Floyd, it’s the reason why they can sell out arenas in England and Australia, and why Floyd can’t sell out anything in the United States. Fans in the United States are no different than anywhere in the world. Yes, there is the gullible lot, like everywhere else, but the true fans here, who will lay out the bucks, and not cry about it if the PPV won’t meet their expectations, don’t give a damn about Mayweather’s out of the ring logic, which to this day is his greatest weakness. It is why he can’t sell out arenas, or carry PPV’s like other fighters, and will depend on opponents to make the fights, rather than his natural ability as it should be.
Its really a bitter sad truth, because Floyd should by all counts carry every fight of his on PPV, even against the overmatched less popular versions of Gatti. I sincerely hope that in the future Floyd Mayweather realizes this, either through self reflection, or a cruel lesson in the ring, and reforms his character so he could get the respect, his skill should so clearly earn him.
Again, digging through the debris of Mayweather’s somewhat distorted logic, I find another nugget of truth in what he said (I shouldn’t have to dig people). Mayweather said he won the mental game, and, folks, he most definitely did. You could see it clearly when Gatti was scared by the explosion which was to signal his ring walk.
Unfortunately, Gatti was scared because he saw how confident Floyd was in there. I give Gatti credit for one thing, and that is, he never really got discouraged by what Floyd did. Some of those combinations and punches really do a number on a fighters morale, in instances, more so than their body, because they know they will be hit with that any time they try to win the rounds or the fight. Gatti tried to defeat this feeling in him every round, and after every combo, and while hurt still moved away and tried to regain his famous composure, and attack again, even if it was in vain.
From a strategic standpoint, Gatti's game plan was absolutely horrendous, and completely not effective. All the talking about hitting Floyd in the ear, and jabbing the shoulder, vanished as soon as the bell rang. To Mayweather’s credit, I didn’t even see the target that Buddy Mcgirt was talking about, because he was too far away and well protected.
Mayweather’s stance is usually sideways, and that really presents a much harder target for the opponent, because there is less mass to aim at. It sort of reminds me of historical pistol duels, because in those situations really the only thing, a gun fighter could do is turn his body and stand sideway to present a less aim friendly target. Of course. this makes perfect sense for Floyd Mayweather, and I give him credit for that as a fan.
Going back to Gatti’s strategy, however, in practice, what he did in the ring was tailor made for Mayweather. Just recently on Friday Night Fights, Ricky Hatton explained how not to fight Mayweather, and, folks, I guess Arturo wasn’t watching. Whereas Hatton said not to load up and headhunt with haymakers, when Floyd is on the ropes, that is all I saw from Gatti, all night, every round. Its like he wanted to spite Hatton or something, because I was amazed at how much he missed, doing exactly what Hatton said not to do.
With Gatti’s offense completely neutralized, the fight was abundantly wide open for Mayweather. I am not sure that he would have lost had Gatti listened to Mcgirt more, and did try to employ a better strategy, but his slugger/confused style, sure made it easier. I thought Mayweather was carrying it at times honestly, because the percentage of clean hard shots (57% connect rate for Pretty Boy), was definitely stunning Gatti, and, had Mayweather wanted to, I thought he could have easily ended it in the second round. I love Gatti’s no “no mas” attitude, but no amount of heart could withstand that. From the second round on, it was really a matter of time. Max Kellerman’s statement about this being the biggest mismatch in PPV history, may very well have been correct.
Lastly, in regards to the fight, the referee did a horrible job in the first round, in my opinion. He yelled “stop punching” and Floyd kept throwing. Then once Gatti stood up with hands down, and looked to the referee, the referee made a motion as if he was going to step in. Now when he does that, Gatti who is looking at the referee, is assuming there will be a break, or warning given to Mayweather for punching when the referee yelled break. Mayweather then hit Gatti and sent him down, and the referee called it a knockdown.
Yes, I understand that the number #1 rule is protect yourself at all times, but there is one even more important, and more often repeated rule, and that is “listen to my commands at all times”, as said by the referee before the bell rings. Gatti did that, Mayweather didn’t, from what I saw and heard, then the referee made a motion to make Gatti think, he would call a halt, and this unfairly allowed Mayweather to get a knockdown. It was unfair for Gatti to lose a point like that, in my opinion, and it was also unfair for him to be hurt like that, so the referee was wrong here. However, I also doubt it effected the outcome of the fight. Still, though, on another night, it may very well have been a harder shot, and a less than ready opponent, and we would have a much worse disaster. A referee has very little time to react, I understand, but in this instance, he should realize what he says, and act on it, rather than think about it, and change his mind giving one fighter an unfair advantage.
IS IT A P4P performance?
I am glad Larry Merchant did what I hoped he would do, and asked Mayweather in earnest how if he thought Gatti was a paper champ, does that make Mayweather’s case for P4P better?
In truth, the fact that he insulted Gatti does not, but I mean, as fans, we knew what Gatti was, anyway, so nothing really changes. On the other hand, this was as close to a flawless performance as you can really get, so in a sense, it does give Mayweather some more "Pound for Pound" firepower, but I still don’t think its enough to get him into that #1 spot.
Hopkins, the pound for pound king, simply has too much accomplishments for Mayweather, and the fact that he is less naturally gifted, makes his case even stronger. When a less then “phenomenally” gifted fighter, like Hopkins, does what he does for 10 years, and in the twilight of his career, fights two of the best middleweights in a row, in Eastman, and now Taylor, you have to be in awe of this remarkable feat. When a naturally gifted fighter like Mayweather does what he is expected to do in the ring against two made to order opponents, like Brussels and Gatti, you respect his skill, you respect his ability, yet you don’t think of it as a major accomplishment. When Bernard fought Eastman, people picked Eastman to win, more so than people who picked Gatti to win only based on their heart, and not the facts. To me, unless Taylor beats Hopkins, Mayweather just cannot close the mythical p4p gap with these sorts of fights. No matter how popular Gatti is, that popularity can only carry him and not Floyd. Mayweather has to make his own name, and he has to start doing it by fighting those fighters who we know have more then Gatti.
Vivian Harris completely embarrassed himself on Saturday night on the under card. He had arguably the best trainer in his corner in Emanuel Steward, but he did not even remotely use that to his advantage. It got to the point where Steward inadvertently hit Harris, while showing him what to do in the corner, before Harris was ultimately knocked out by the unknown Columbian, Carlos Maussa in the very next round. In part, I also think Harris gave up and let himself get hit with that monster shot, because before the round started and after Steward hit him, he appeared to arguing and what looked like complaining to me.
Even though Harris has a ton of natural ability, he seems to lack the patience to learn and listen, for example, guys like Cotto, Hatton, and even Mayweather, which drops Harris down a notch, taking him out of the elite rankings as a top 140 fighter, in my opinion. Coincidentally, seeing as Cotto has already beaten Maussa via TKO before, that also raises his stock up a little bit as an elite class fighter.
Furthermore, I think the fight should have ended a few rounds earlier, had it not been for the referee’s leisurely pace in replacing Harris’s mouthpiece. Not only did the referee stop the action after the best shot of the night to that point, ( a punch landed by Maussa, which knocked Harris' mouthpiece out), but he did not complain when Steward, the veteran trainer (who was correct in doing this to protect his fighter), took his time in wiping the mouthpiece off, rubbing it down, and giving his fighter time to recover. This was not like the instance in the Castillo-Corrales fight, because in that fight, Steve Weeks pretty much yelled at the Corrales corner to put the mouthpiece back in and resume the action.
Talking about Emmanuel Steward, I think the first bout on the card proved the real importance of a good trainer in your corner. Ivan Calderon continued his Minimumweight dominance in beating an opponent, in Gerardo Verde, who, in my opinion, only really lacked one thing in making this a closer fight, and perhaps one in which he would emerge victorious. The kid who was 10 years younger than Calderon, was in the fight for all 12 rounds, and even came on late showing he had great stamina, hurting Calderon badly in the last round. However, the reason he lost, was, in my opinion, the lack of ability in his corner to give him any real solid advice. The talented, but unpolished fighter, didn’t know how to handle Calderon because his corner kept giving advice, such as, “tear his face off,” and “he has nothing” variety.
Its really a shame that Verde, potentially, a really talented fighter, couldn’t have Steward or Mcgirt in his corner on Saturday night, because I think with them there, he could have won the fight. Its a matter of Verde being a small weight division fighter, who does not attract much popularity, which is why he will probably be at this kind of disadvantage for the rest of his career.
I really hope that somebody like a Freddie Roach or Dan Goosen was watching that fight, and saw something in Verde, and will take him in and develop what I think is massive potential.
Within the next few days EastSideBoxing will be presenting an article on one of the earliest legends of the Soviet boxing ring, in Nikolai Korolev. This man was a boxing hero, a war hero, and great human being in every sense of the word. I know it seems like cheap promotion, but I sincerely hope all boxing fans read that article and give him the credit he deserves as a fighter, because the nation he loved so much, simply refused to do so.