There is always that sense of calm before many storms. There was that resolute calm and respect before and after Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo conjured up a hail storm and rained on each other over a month ago. The same with Kostya Tszyu and Ricky Hatton; being hand-on with this fight, I was very impressed with the before and after respect which these two fighters displayed towards one another. In the ring was a different story though, as both Tszyu and Hatton threw all niceties aside for eleven mean intentioned rounds.
This Saturday night, Caesars Atlantic City and Ballys Atlantic City jointly hosts ‘Thunder and Lightning’ as Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti, 39-6 (30), defends his WBC super-lightweight championship against ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather, 33-0 (22), live on HBO pay-per-view, from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With this match-up there hasn’t been a calm before Saturday’s inevitable storm. Strong winds were kicked-up from the moment this fight was even spoken about. From Mayweather’s initial claim of Gatti ducking him and saying, “I’m gonna make him look like the C-class fighter he is”, to Team Gatti making reference to Mayweather’s legal woes and Gatti himself calling Mayweather “A little boy who deserves a spanking” the verbal hail has existed from the inception of this promotion. Bottom line these two just don’t like each other.
Gatti has been Gatti; a man of a few words, but one who feels that Mayweather doesn’t have to like him but he will respect him. On the surface, respect from Mayweather has been non-existent. Mayweather has told whoever has been in earshot of how he is going to “Dog Gatti”, “Maybe cut it to four”, “Take Gatti to deep waters and drown him”, etc. The quotes are many, but none are flattering.
Beneath the rough physical and verbal exterior of Mayweather though, an observant person should know that there is a rough but intelligent side as well. Even with Mayweather telling us his harsh intentions, make no mistake about it; his words are speaking louder than his actions will. We can think back to when Bernard Hopkins gave us certain thoughts before his ‘01 match-up with Felix Trinidad; he said that fight would be war filled with knees and elbows or something to that effect. When the fight did happen, Hopkins put on a strategic boxing clinic. Mayweather himself gave us the impression that he would war with Diego Corrales. When that fight happened, Mayweather didn’t war, but put on a masterful boxing performance. Both he and Hopkins did the turn around because if there is one thing that they had for their opponents, it was a healthy respect for their punching power.
Everybody plays the fool sometime; this Saturday night will not be that time for Mayweather. Deep down Mayweather is trying to fool us into thinking that he will totally engage with Gatti, but mentally I’m looking and looking and that’s a sight that can’t be seen. Thus far, just as with his fight with Corrales, there is that limited respect for Gatti as a fighter, but former two-division champion Mayweather will indeed respect this opponent’s power. When the bell rings to signal the start of Saturday’s showdown, look for Mayweather to put his superior boxing skills to further use. If he doesn’t, Gatti just may make Mayweather the biggest fool of them all.
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