01.02.05 – By Chris Acosta: In terms of talent, we know that Arturo Gatti isn’t in the same league as either recognized Jr. Welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu or pound for pound claimant Floyd Mayweather Jr. It’s not that Gatti isn’t a world class boxer in his own right. He is in fact, more polished than most fighters with his gutsy reputation and is at a point in his career where his versatility is finally asserting itself far more cohesively than in the past. His tremendous heart, never questioned and the source of what has endeared him to the boxing public, is now the ultimate back-up plan, tucked beneath gradually added layers of strategy and discipline..
Still, he lacks the natural instincts, speed, and defense of “Pretty Boy” Floyd or the composed precision of King Kostya. The difference between his abilities and those of his two contemporaries are subtle, but they are apparent enough to put him at a distinct disadvantage against both. But Arturo Gatti has one thing that neither Tszyu or Mayweather have: drawing power. His body of work may not put him in in the ranks of boxing’s pound for pound rankings (where incidentally, both Mayweather and Tszyu reside at numbers two and three in the latest issue of KO Magazine) but his penchant for spontaneous fireworks seduce our curiosities a whole lot more than a nicely slipped punch or lack of palpable vulnerability.
“Thunder” does indeed have his own place in history books, but not in the way he wants. This is why he is headed towards a very intriguing meeting with Floyd Mayweather, a man whose sheer mastery of boxing has still not captured anyone outside of the most hardcore of fans. Gatti wants recognition as an elite fighter, Mayweather wants the deserved financial rewards that come with being an elite fighter. There may never be an opportunity for either to win so much.
On the surface, Mayweather appears to hold so many stylistic edges that Gatti is reduced to yet another one of those hapless opponents neatly filed away as having a “punchers chance”. It is easy to imagine a fight where Mayweather simply outboxes Gatti all night, maybe opening up some of that tender scar tissue along the way and most importantly, keeping his rivals’ guts right where they belong – inside him. But something tells us that if Arturo was ever going to take his game to another level, this is it. Unlike DeMarcus Corley and Henry Brusels, Floyds’ previous two starts at the new weight limit, Gatti will not become discouraged.
His entire career has been one of unbreakable will and surprise turnarounds. Despite his newfound nuance under trainer Buddy McGirt, Gatti may have no real option than to return to the kind of frenzied attack that characterized the jumpstart to his popularity. It’s almost a shame that he’ll have to discard most of his newly discovered thought processes in favor of a more aggressive approach. but his body has had time to rest with two successive blowouts of Jesse James Leija and Leonard Dorin and he’ll enter the bout fresh and healthy.
Floyd Mayweather has so far, been his own worst enemy. His accomplishments have always been doused by his troubles outside the ring. The Michigan native has had so many domestic squabbles it seems only a matter of time before he ends up on an episode of C.O.P.S. This instability makes him a difficult to gauge in terms of his readiness though he has thus far, been nearly perfect. Assuming he can stay focused, he is well aware that this fight is his showcase to the big time. He’s beaten fighters who are arguably, better (Genaro Herandez, Diego Corales, Jose Luis Castillo) and many on Gatti’s level, but not on this sizable of a stage. A win will open this under- appreciated pugilist up to millions of casual fans and an emphatic win will bring many of them back. There is also a risk assessment in Floyd’s plan. He may get that big fight with Oscar De La Hoya ( and speaking of, who hasn’t the Golden Boy fought? Amazing) down the road but De La Hoya is a naturally bigger man with elite skills as well. The key to that vault will undoubtedly be much harder to turn. With Gatti in front of him, Mayweather is catching an antagonist whose momentum is at an all-time high, a fighter who is seen by the masses as one of the very best in the game but actually a level below to those in the know.
Will it be a victory for history or currency? Both motivate men in their own ways and neither is a landslide in any census count but the end result may ultimately and literally, lie in the hands themselves.