Mayweather Brings June Thunder: The Storm Arrives At Last
By Coyote Duran (June 20, 2005)  
Photo © HBO-PPV
Unless you really dig a good torrential downpour, storms tend to throw a monkey wrench into your fun, don't they, kids? The power craps out and so does the fridge thus making all your perishables go bad. And if that's not bad enough, the cable eats it right in the middle of the Hot Network's presentation of ‘Marg Helgenberger and Kelly Clarkson meet Coyote Duran’......

What? I can dream out loud, dammit.

Fortunately, for those of us who absolutely adore storms, a real treat is on the horizon for on June 25 when WBC super lightweight titleholder Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti, 39-6 (30), meets ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather Jr., 33-0 (22), on HBO pay-per-view, a headlining first for both men.

And if you ask most fans who buy into Mayweather's deserved status in the 140 pound ratings, they'll tell you that this'll be but a mere walk in the park for ‘Li'l Floyd’ and that even at his very patient, technical best, Arturo Gatti will always be but a notch lower than the allegedly superior Mayweather.

"Allegedly superior?! What are you trying to say, Coyote?" you may well ask. Is it possible that when many choose the obvious route and downplay Gatti's recent accomplishments while lifting Mayweather for his, I'll elect to be the always mischievous little trickster and choose the exact and absolute opposite thus ultimately damning myself to further questioning of my mental faculties and at the same time submitting my in-box to a deluging of caustic insults?


It's possible because I honestly don't believe it's going to be the stylish, one-sided Mayweather hatchet job that most pollsters choose to predict. I can't help it, homeys. That's just what I'm feeling.

In fact, I don't even think Mayweather's going to win. You can all gasp in shock now.

Look, I'm not taking anything away from Mayweather's overall career accomplishments. Just his recent ones. Ask yourself this: Are Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s victories at 140 pounds more substantial than Arturo Gatti's at the same weight to warrant being an odds-on sure thing over Jersey City's favorite son, much less a shot at a relatively meaningless belt? Well, Mayweather's want for another green belt is somewhat expected, I suppose. Floyd Jr.'s love for WBC hardware is very well documented from two separate title tenures at 130 and 135 pounds.

So how did he earn his shot at Gatti?

After winning the vacant Ring Magazine World Lightweight Championship while narrowly annexing then-titlist Jose Luis Castillo's WBC lightweight belt, Mayweather, who doesn't exactly duck challenges, went on to defeat Castillo in a much more decisive rematch before decisioning the tough Victoriano Sosa and TKO'ing super-game Phillip Ndou in Mayweather's second and third title defenses, respectively. Game guys. Didn't duck 'em. Chose to move on up to a deluxe apartment in the junior welterweight sky at the end of the work day.

Just in time.

Now this could be taken two different ways, howlers. One way to look at it would be to believe that Mayweather effectively asserted his dominance at 135 and cleaned out his division, plain and simple, thus acting as a deterrent for potential 130 pound threats who have the zany idea of possibly making that five pound move north. On the other hand, one could also choose to believe that Mayweather broke camp before the really serious challenges at lightweight would emerge. Whatever, man. Believe what you want. Only Mayweather truly knows the motivation of his machinations, right?

Another yep.

But let's give this prodigious (and he is – let's not fool ourselves) young man the benefit of the doubt, shall we? The Fight Game, she is a fickle woman and only the wisest of men truly know how the progression of a relationship will work. But how wise must the only undefeated fighter in the mythical pound-for-pound ratings be to protect the zero in his record.

So the indomitable ‘Pretty Boy’ packs his bags and moves to the groovy side of town where the names on the mailboxes all read like a ‘who's who’ in the gated community of The Sweet Science. You know: Tszyu, Harris, Cotto... Gatti.

Well, we know the sometimes childishly greedy premium networks' stance on competing properties won't budge unless one fighter is named Lewis and the other Tyson. So Mayweather taking part in an IBF eliminator for a shot at the real World Champion Ricky Hatton would be fruitless.

There's always the dangerous WBA titleholder Vivian Harris to consider, but if memory serves me correctly, Mayweather's response to such a possibility was a resounding "Never heard of him" or words to that effect.

Challenging WBO boss Miguel Cotto would make for a rockin' throwdown in our imaginations, but why should Mayweather risk facing a fight night middleweight for a fringe belt? Sure, Mayweather could bring much needed credibility to the least regarded of the four main sanctioning bodies (ala Hopkins and Corrales), but then again, credibility and the alphabet boys go together like ‘born again’ Christians and Norwegian death metal.

So who's left to pick on but Gatti? It's the perfect set-up with the perfect patsy on the receiving end. A couple of well-placed WBC eliminator opponents in the forms of Demarcus Corley and Henry Bruseles (who?) and the ‘Pretty Boy' is on his way to a third fabulous green belt.

A green belt that Arturo Gatti would die to keep rather than just hand over.

And why not? Hasn't all the toiling and bleeding and hand breaking all been worth it? Even if it is for what I consider a devalued belt, I didn't get in the ring for it. Who's to say that the WBC belt isn't perhaps more valuable to Gatti then, let's say, Ricky Hatton's Ring belt?

But what's more important than what Gatti's achieved is how he's achieved it.

Since suffering a stoppage loss against a larger Oscar De La Hoya in March 2001 at welterweight, Gatti has redefined himself in nearly every way in hopes of lengthening a career that many pundits were more than happy to write off after Gatti's losses to Ivan Robinson back in 1998. Let's be honest here. How many of you are willing to swear to yourself that you knew Gatti would still be even competing in 2005 let alone be this popular? Yeah, me neither.

But yet here we are, post-De La Hoya, a renewed fighting style, one breathtaking trilogy, two career-ending knockout wins and a Buddy McGirt later, as Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti stands at the threshold of immortality with Floyd Mayweather Jr. blocking the doorway.

Now how badly Gatti wants to shoulder through that doorway is entirely up to him.

Why, if Arturo Gatti pushes hard enough, he might just knock over Floyd Mayweather Jr. on his way through. If karma chooses to rear her pretty head and show up at the fight ('cause you know she's a fan...), we might even see the 11th round knockout victory I'm predicting for Gatti. That's right. I said it. If I'm wrong, I'll own up. But not unlike his most rabid fans, I believe in Gatti. More importantly, so does he. Gatti's self-belief and unmatched heart will amount to much more than Mayweather's self-absorption and face unmarked. What can I say? I'm feeling a little nutty.

I guess that's what storms do to some people. Some folks bar their doors and windows while others race down into their basements to check their sump pumps. Some of us even swear and throw a fit when the porn movie they’ve been wishing, hoping, dreaming and waiting for all their lives gets clipped. But one thing's an absolute, howlers: The most magnificent meteorological monstrosity won't dare match the output of electricity at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on June 25.

And you won’t even need an umbrella.

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