Thunder Gatti & Lightning Mayweather… An Upset in The Making?
By Danny Serratelli (June 25, 2005) 
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Since Arturo Gatti won his WBC light welterweight title he has fought Leonard Dorin and Jesse James Leija. Many critics felt both would test Gatti, considering Leija’s victory over Francisco Bojado in his prior fight and Dorin’s undefeated record, impressive wins, and a draw that many observers felt he won with IBF lightweight champ Paul Spadafora. Great action fights could have also been made with Kostya Tszyu, Ricky Hatton or Miguel Cotto. Gatti would have made a great fight and had a good chance of beating Kostya Tszyu, if not for HBO and Showtime being unable to work out an agreement between Gatti (HBO) and Tszyu (Showtime). A fight with Tszyu’s conqueror Ricky Hatton would have made a great action fight, and Miguel Cotto versus Arturo Gatti would have been a natural in the northeast, and from what I have heard may still happen at some point at the Garden or in Atlantic City. The one guy that Gatti does not match up with on paper would be Floyd Mayweather Jr. In fact no one matches up well with Floyd on paper. I have heard boxing people say that Buddy McGirt has given Gatti a chance by getting him to box, but I don’t think any knowledgeable boxing fan thinks that Gatti stands a chance in hell to outbox the gifted Mayweather.

When Arturo Gatti won his first title against Tracy Harris Patterson at the Garden in late 1995, Mayweather had not yet turned pro. However, by the time Floyd won his first title, when he stopped Genaro Hernandez in 1995, and made quick work of Angel Manfredy in his first defense, Gatti had just finished dropping three consecutive fights, one to the same Angel Manfredy and two to Ivan Robinson. When Gatti fought over his weight for a payday against Oscar DelaHoya in 2001, and his corner stopped the fight, he had lost 4 of his last 7 fights, and many people thought he may have been finished. At that time Mayweather had just destroyed an excellent fighter, although a troubled one at the time due to legal problems in current lightweight champion Diego Corrales. Mayweather was thought to be a top pound-for-pound fighter at that time while Gatti, a veteran of many ring wars by that time, was thought to have been on the downside of his career.

Since that time, Mayweather is 8-0 with 3 KO’s, while Gatti is 6-1 with 3 KO’s, dropping only a very close decision to Mickey Ward in the first fight of their trilogy back in 2002. When Mayweather called Gatti a C+ fighter, and a club fighter who fights on HBO, Gatti said he would do his talking in the ring. Mayweather, admittedly, has not really been tested to date. This is not because of a lack of quality opposition, but because of his superior level of speed and skill. Mayweather, who it seems comes from a whole family of fighters, was born to box. On the other hand, Gatti often handles adversity in most of his fights, according to Mayweather, because of his lack of skill.

There is no doubt that Arturo Gatti will be prepared for this fight, and it appears Mayweather will also be well prepared because this will be the biggest fight of both of their careers. The fight will take place at Gatti’s house at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, where his last five fights – all victories – have taken place. It appears Mayweather can make this fight an easy, boring fight by using his speed and skill to outbox Gatti.

The only weakness Mayweather may have would be overconfidence. While Floyd’s confidence definitely works for him, overconfidence can be a fighter’s worst enemy. It can lead to giving a little less then your all in training and make you think you can get away with doing things that you would not usually do, both during training and then during the fight. Mayweather’s overconfidence and his promise to stop Gatti can lead to him taking unnecessary chances. Gatti can punch and excels when thrown into the fire and facing adversity; we do not yet know how Mayweather will respond if he is faced with serious adversity in a big fight. Many dominant fighters who are never really tested and face adversity don’t do well when the day comes when, as Buddy McGirt likes to call it, their “nuts and guts” are tested. Two examples are fighters I have always been a big fan of Mike Tyson and Roy Jones. While both were gifted and dominant, as Floyd has been, neither was able to come back from the brink of defeat like Arturo Gatti has a several occasions because they had been so used to things always going their way for so long.

While Gatti has looked good boxing lately and has fought tough opponents, none of those opponents possessed the speed and ‘total package’ that Mayweather possesses. Look for both men to come out and try to box early, and Mayweather to take more chances as the fight goes on and he sees that he is faster and can get away with some of his usual antics. Gatti will try to box early, but at some point McGirt will change his plan and tell his charge to do what he has to do. Gatti has said, "I used to spar Pernell Whitaker for five years before fights and Whitaker was far better, far more intelligent. People talk and talk about Mayweather's speed but all he's bringing is speed, I'm bringing everything else." Gatti continued that, "He's overconfident, I am sure, but he's not stupid and I expect him to be at his best. But we'll see how much balls he has. I've got a lot of heart and he may need that, too. When he gets hit on that chin he'll get knocked out or will start to run. All this talk will stop when he gets to Atlantic City."

Ricky Hatton proved three weeks ago that it doesn’t matter who everyone thinks will win the fight; come fight time all bets are off. Can this be the second big upset at 140 pounds in three weeks? If Mayweather sticks to his game plan and doesn’t take the chances he can probably win a fairly easy twelve round decision, but in a fight of this magnitude, in Atlantic City, that will be difficult to do. Gatti knows he has to somehow impose his will on Mayweather to have a chance in this fight. In all sports, and especially boxing, the most gifted athlete does not always win, and if Arturo Gatti can make this fight come down to ‘nuts and guts’, barring a stoppage because of cuts, he will win the fight.

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