Going into the fight that took place 12 years ago today, there were plenty of fight fans bracing themselves for a great fight, a competitive fight. Instead, what we saw when Floyd Mayweather Junior challenged Arturo Gatti for his WBC 140-pound belt was a massacre.
Boxing his pay-per-view debut, Mayweather, aged 28, sporting a 33-0 record and at his blinding peak, dismantled the hugely popular Gatti in every which way. Gatti, who had gone beyond the call in his three wars with Mickey Ward, convinced his fans, most of them anyway, that he would be too rough, tough and hungry for Mayweather. Instead, Mayweather fought one of his most aggressive, ruthless and nasty fights.
Never coming close to putting a foot wrong, “Pretty Boy,” as Mayweather was known at the time, hit Gatti with everything, with both hands, from all angles. In return, Floyd took absolutely zero – not a single punch touched him on the night of June 25 in Atlantic City. Gatti was forced to make amateurish moves – even dropping his hands and looking at the referee in the very first round, when he felt Mayweather had hit him on the break – and Mayweather made him pay.
It was a mismatch, to the huge disappointment of Gatti’s army of fans, and by the 3rd round, Gatti needed a miracle to avoid defeat. Unable to fight his fight, Gatti was made to look, as Floyd had predicted beforehand, like a “club fighter.”
After 18 minutes of awfully one-sided brutality, Gatti was pulled out by his trainer and former champ Buddy McGirt; Gatti remaining on his stool after the 6th-round. Mayweather was the biggest lower weight star in boxing, or if he wasn’t he soon would be.
In the years that followed his utter destruction of Gatti, Mayweather became, more and more, a safety-first, take no risks fighter, content to cruise to a decision win. But against Gatti, Mayweather showed his nasty side, his killer instinct.
Conor McGregor better hope this version of Mayweather does not appear on August 26. If it does, we could see an even more one-sided beatdown than the one we saw 12 years ago.