Mismatch. No hope. One sided. Any one else got any more? These were some of the words boxing insiders were using to describe Saturday’s junior welterweight showdown between Arturo Gatti and Floyd Mayweather. It wasn’t the worst pay-per-view mismatch we’ve seen but it was pretty close as the punch stats and scorecards show. After six torturous rounds, Gatti’s corner finally stopped the fight after Arturo was on the receiving end of 168 (out of 295) of Pretty Boy’s clean, crisp punches compared to only 41 for Gatti.
It was a masterful performance for Mayweather who promised to expose Gatti as a “c” level fighter in the weeks leading up to the fight. HBO did their best in casting Floyd as the villain but even the sold out crowd of die hard Gatti fans at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City were somewhat mesmerized by Floyd’s dazzling skills.
Gatti came out in round one looking strong and popping his jab enough to effectively keep Floyd at bay. Midway through the round, Mayweather picked up the pace and began to land his lightning fast jab, followed by a string of overhand rights. Before rounds end, Gatti’s left eye was up to its old tricks again and began to swell considerably. Mayweather was credited with a knockdown as he floored Gatti in the closing seconds as Gatti was expecting referee Earl Morton to issue a warning to Mayweather for hitting on the break. Apparently Gatti didn’t learn anything from Travis Simms’ crushing knockout of Alex Garcia in December 2003.
The second round picked up right where the first left off with Mayweather landing frequent combinations to Gatti’s head and body. Arturo did his best to fend off Floyd’s advances with his jab but Mayweather had no trouble penetrating Gatti’s defense. The round was so one sided that HBO’s unofficial scorekeeper, Harold Lederman, scored it a 10-8 round for Mayweather despite the absence of any knockdowns.
Coming into the fight, Gatti said that his plan was to attack Mayweather’s body and slow the fight down. Entering round three however, Gatti had yet to land anything of significance let alone a single body punch.
In round three, the mismatch that many had predicted was starting to come to fruition. Mayweather’s speed and clean punched began to hurt Gatti. HBO did not release the unofficial, day of the fight weights for either fighter but it’s no secret that Gatti likes to put on pounds in the 24 hours between the weigh in and the fight. The extra weight could not have helped him as Floyd continued to land from the outside and snap Gatti’s head back with dazzling, multiple punch combinations.
In the weeks leading up to the fight, most of us dot commers were split between three possible outcomes to this fight. The first being Gatti getting stopped on cuts. The second being a lopsided points win for Floyd. And the third being a kayo in Gatti’s favor. By the end of the fourth, outcome three seemed like an impossibility while outcome two was becoming less likely by the second.
Rounds five and six put an exclamation point on Mayweather’s dominant performance as all three judges scored the sixth a 10-8 in Floyd’s favor. Buddy McGirt threw in the towel between rounds with little complaint from Gatti or anyone else in the building. Gatti’s made a career out of taking punishment but only the most sadistic onlooker would have wanted to see another round like the six that preceded.
In the end, Mayweather more than proved his pound-for-pound claims and was exciting in the process. His hand speed and clean, hard punches impressed even the most casual of boxing fans and may have finally given Floyd the exposure he needs to become the crossover star that we thought he would all along. Now that his cockiness and flashy style have been backed up by his masterful performance in the ring on a pay-per-view level, the mainstream sports fan may have found their new Ray Leonard. Couple that with Floyd’s good looks and his intriguing story and he may be the best ambassador for the sport of boxing today. Wow, I never thought I would hear myself say that.
After the fight, both fighters were respectful and complimentary of one another, putting an end to months of constant back and forth feuding and insults.
"I don't hate Arturo Gatti," stated Mayweather. "He gave it his all. I respect him as a fighter." Pretty Boy then stated that he would next like to take on newly crowned division kingpin, Ricky Hatton.
Gatti professed a desire to move up to 147 for his next fight. It remains to be seen how much Gatti has left at this point but one thing is for sure, you can never count him out. He’s made a career out of making reporters eat their words. Regardless, he remains the sport’s most popular fighter and there is little shame in losing to one of the greatest pure boxers this sport has ever seen.
Maussa KO’s Harris in 7
Vivian Harris has been the dark horse in the 140 pound division for some time now. After bowing out of a fight with Ricky Hatton in April for financial reasons, Harris took just 10 percent of what he would have received for the Hatton fight in order to display his skills on a larger stage against career spoiler Carlos Maussa. No offense Vivian, but, oops.
Maussa’s recent claim to fame was a TKO victory over undefeated prospect Jeffery Resto and a tough stoppage loss to future superstar Miguel Cotto. Against Maussa, Harris was looking to gain a little one-upsmanship on Cotto and make fast work of the durable yet limited Maussa.
Harris almost got the first round KO he was looking for as he rocked Maussa in the opening minute of the round. Maussa held up and returned fire of his own for the remainder of the round.
Harris opened the second much more reserved but still seemed to be beating Maussa to the punch and getting inside of his wide, looping hooks. Harris seemed the more polished of the two but couldn’t quite seem to figure out which fight he wanted to fight.
Rounds three through six were all Maussa as Harris unsuccessfully tried to put together a game plan. He was getting caught on the ropes and unable to duck under the awkward swings of the unconventional Maussa.
In the opening minute of the seventh, Maussa caught Harris with a looping left hook that caught Harris right on the chin and dropped him. Maussa tried to make sure he would stay down by landing a punch to Vicious Vivian’s head as he was literally lying on the canvas. The punch had no effect on Harris but was illegal nonetheless. Regardless, Harris failed to beat the count.
With the loss, Harris will have to start from square one. He stated that he will exercise his rematch clause with Maussa but before that happens he will have to put together a more strategic fight plan if he wishes to avoid another loss to the newest star in the sport’s deepest division.
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