July 1, 2005

Sharkie’s Machine
By Frank Gonzalez Jr.

The Jr. Welterweight Division Gets All Shook Up

It was hard watching Arturo Gatti lose his thunder (and his WBC Title) to the mastery that is Floyd Mayweather Jr. I was shocked at the short sighted-ness of Vivian Harris’ performance against Carlos Maussa. June has been a big month for the Jr. Welter division. A couple of weeks ago, Ricky Hatton dethroned the mighty Kostya Tszyu and Miguel Cotto quietly but efficiently defended his WBO Title for a third time just two weeks ago.

Floyd needs attention and is all about being flashy to get it. He was carried into the ring on a palled chariot, wearing a fur laced hood and a smug look on his face. It was reminiscent of “Prince” Naseem Hamed’s infamous ring entrance prior to being outclassed by Marco Antonio Barrera. Bad karma? Yeah, Floyd brought plenty.

Gatti stood in front of some fiery special effects accompanied by thunderous sounds. The packed house exploded with cheers as the working class hero made his way to the ring.

Arturo Gatti has improved his overall boxing skills under the tutelage of McGirt; his mobility and ring generalship have evolved so much that many experts now call him a boxer, instead of a brawler, which was what made him famous.

Gatti was unable to implement any of his refinements Saturday night because Floyd Mayweather Jr. dictated the tempo at all times. Floyd completely dominated Gatti. He was too confident, too fast and too accurate for Gatti, who took a beat down in front of his hometown fans Saturday in Atlantic City NJ.

Boxing is the art of hitting without being hit and Floyd once again proved that he is the master of that skill. Arturo couldn’t catch him with much of anything and when Mayweather let loose the leather, all Gatti could do was to instinctively cover up. Gatti was lost in the woods fighting Mayweather. He didn’t know whether to box or brawl. Whatever he tried, didn’t work.

It was a complete mismatch that favored Floyd on every level from the end of the first round until the sixth, when after Gatti’s left eye was swollen shut, his whole face beaten to a pulp and his prospects of winning the fight too slim, his trainer, Buddy McGirt, mercifully threw the towel in.

Being a great fighter requires great discipline, stamina, accuracy, power, ring smarts and the proper state of mind. Being a nice guy, or even an honorable sort, is not a requirement—but it does sell tickets. In that regard, Gatti may have lost the fight but he is still a winner. His fans love him and won’t miss any of his future fights. When asked his thoughts on the fight, Gatti said that Mayweather was a lot faster than he expected and was very tough to hit. He then said he will fight one more time at 140 then move up to 147. He said if that doesn’t work out, it might be the end. Whatever he does, Arturo Gatti has been great for the sport and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as a representative in the category of Heart, Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Arturo Gatti won the hearts of fans by showing his big heart in memorable brawls that brought much needed dignity to a sport that’s too often on the ropes. Like a regular guy, he’s won some and lost some. Gatti represents all hard working people who experience the ups and downs of reality and keep coming forward. Gatti is not a crème de la crème fighter like Mayweather, who is boxing’s version of a thoroughbred racehorse but Gatti is someone I can root for, win or lose.

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