Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
By Jason Petock (August 31, 2005)  
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No press, no coverage and no fanfare. These are the career penalties a defeated fighter must accept as a personal reality after suffering a devastating loss. Often the same media, fans, and supporters who resounded in unison ‘victory’ for their man in the beginning find themselves nowhere to be found in the harsh aftermath of a hero’s demise. No longer do the magazines, slick and glossy with fresh print, seek out a fallen fighter for interviews, cover stories or press photos. Their main interest now with yesterday’s news is if this guy’s career is finished, how many fights does he have left in him, and sadly at times, how can we further humiliate him as a result of his defeat? Boxers have to swim in an enormous fish tank with the sharks circling them, waiting for them to falter ever so slightly. One false move – or loss in this case – and let the feeding frenzy begin.

Dog eat dog is the rule in professional boxing, there’s no disputing that. Yet sometimes the bite that the media takes out of a boxer is far greater than the one inflicted by his successor. With this said, I’d like to turn the attention now to Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti and Floyd ‘Pretty Boy’ Mayweather, and where I think they might fit into the whole framework of this concept.

It is old news and stale bread to several concerned involving what took place on June 25, 2005 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Everything that could possibly be written, and then some, about the events that transpired on that fateful night has been already. The event sold out in mere hours with a reported cool $5 million as the take. ‘Thunder’s’ roaring power and determination got extinguished by the penetrating and blistering speed of ‘Pretty Boy’s’ ‘lightning’. In simple terms one fella got completely outclassed and shut out by another fella. Open and shut case.

But that is where the simplicity ends and the complexity begins. That is where fair weather supporters and part time loyalists hang their hats and climb aboard the bandwagon. I will never deny a fighter’s greatness or talent, but I will remain true to those I endorse no matter the circumstances. In this case, I’m still sticking with Gatti.

This isn’t to say that Floyd Mayweather isn’t a great fighter or a dynamo. He is. The difference with me at least is that while I can honestly acknowledge his skills and legitimacy in boxing, my heart just won’t allow me to recognize anything else he does outside of the ring. I guess the attitude is a little too much for me, a little too overbearing, even if it does get him into the ‘zone’ as has been suggested recently. Fighters have always used bravado and trash talking to sell fights, but I think that some of the things that were said by Mayweather about Gatti were disrespectful in my meager opinion. Keep in mind that this is Floyd Mayweather we’re talking about here, and NOT Muhammad Ali. Ali was a genius with words, a master poet if you will. He could captivate crowds both in and out of the ring. So far ‘Pretty Boy’ has unfortunately not done much of either, and the reason for this comes down to his attitude, not his ability.

It’s been said that a person’s attitude will determine their lot in life, and there is a lot of truth to that. Arturo Gatti has struck a chord in the hearts of legions of fans through his genuine public displays of courage, humility, respectability and valor. Floyd Mayweather has showcased his virtuoso boxing skills and dominating presence in the ring, while slipping dramatically in the popularity ranks tenfold. This has occurred because he refuses to drop his ego driven persona. I’m not judging you here ‘Pretty Boy’, be who you are and ‘do you’. All I’m trying to point out here is the contrast between two athletes, the problem with an influx of unnecessary garbage that’s polluting boxing, and how easily we jump from one boxer to the next at the drop of a hat, many times like the abrupt changes of a forceful but misguided wind.

What is so interesting about Gatti and Mayweather is that they are complete opposite stylistically, in life, and in stature. Yet at the same time they are similar in some aspects. Floyd was looking for the fame that Gatti has achieved as a people’s fighter, and he still hasn’t found it. Granted, he beat Arturo easily, on his home turf for that matter, but that level of superstardom always escapes Mayweather. In Gatti’s case, his being himself has given him that rare popularity and fan base that Floyd so desperately seeks. In defeating Arturo Gatti, Floyd Mayweather may have only furthered himself from his dream of one day becoming the people’s choice it seems.

So now Arturo Gatti has been hung on the shelf, replaced by Floyd Mayweather with a degree of uncertainty. It is not that people are uncertain as to whether Floyd will win or not, or whether he will show up in peak condition. Mayweather is a professional and these things are givens. These factors are far less compelling in scope to what character we can expect to see when Mayweather shakes his feathers for all eyes to view. He has gotten his wish somewhat however, seeing as his name is on everybody’s lips and the toss up now is between him and English sensation Ricky Hatton for the spoils of the junior welterweight division. Maybe the next bout should be Hatton vs. Mayweather for the 140 pound WBC and IBF titles. Not that titles are really all that important or substantial when you think about them. When it comes down to brass tacks, boxing is about respect. That’s something that must be earned, not granted.

The emergence of the ‘real’ Floyd ‘Pretty Boy’ Mayweather may just be a sign of our times. Today everyone is ‘hard’ and rocks the biggest chips on their shoulders that they can find, forget about the fattest chains or the ‘illest’ whips (cars). Image is all encompassing, and while Floyd can definitely back up everything he says (at least so far), that doesn’t mean that the fans are buying it or necessarily listening to what he has to say. Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson, and George Foreman. Now those fighters were real antagonists. They were the anti-heroes and the heroes all rolled up into one neat package with a little bit of tattering on the edges. For whatever reason, these men made it work for them and they did so effortlessly. That’s the difference.

Now we are left with the proverbial boxing ladder, with Mayweather on top of it alongside Hatton, and Gatti knocked down a couple of rungs, at least in the eyes of the house majority. Majority unfortunately rules sometimes, we know this from recent headlines and the chaos that America is inflicted with as you read this. I hated to see things go down the way they did though.

Congrats and good luck Mayweather, if you disagreed with anything that I said in this piece you could always just ‘get that dirt off your shoulder’, seeing as it fits your thug image and who you roll with, son. Gatti you already know where you stand, Champ.
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