By Rick Reeno
This Saturday night, the stage is set for the two biggest names in the junior welterweight division to battle for the WBC version of the 140 pound crown. Several years of bitter feelings between both fighters are now boiling down to an explosive pay per view event. Both men have been fighting at the championship level for many years, but ironically, this is the first pay per view that either fighter has ever headlined. WBC junior welterweight champion Arturo Gatti (39-6, 30 KO's) has been a participant in the "Fight of the Year" on five different occassions. Gatti poured out buckets of blood and sweat to get this level. Mayweather (33-0, 22 KOs), regarded as the number two pound for pound fighter in the world, has not been able to gain a connection with the boxing public. Mayweather has the skills, the looks, big wins and a fantastic résumé, but all of these things have not made him a bigger draw then Arturo Gatti.
The staff of BoxingScene voice their opinions about the fight, the fighters and the end result of this Saturday night's big pay per view event.
Eric Rineer - Arturo Gatti is perhaps the most courageous fighter in the sport today. Gatti is in the same league with world class fighters like Evander Holyfield and Beau Jack when it comes to fighting heart. I believe that his warrior mentality will carry him in this fight, but it won't be enough to stop Floyd Mayweather. Floyd may be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He's proven now he can fight on the inside and he's got tremendous hand speed. It will take a lot of punches to chop down Arturo but I believe Floyd will do it inside of 8 rounds. Arturo's best shot may be to go for the knockout in the first couple of rounds. If that doesn't happen, he could be in big trouble. Arturo won't give up, so I wouldn't be surprised if Buddy McGirt is forced to throw in the towel for him.
Sammy Rozenberg - A very easy fight to call. I love Gatti, but this fight is a pure mismatch in terms of skill. Mayweather by way of a tenth round stoppage.
Ron Gallegos - In the best of worlds, Gatti finally catches the elusive Mayweather with a devastating left hook in the 7th round that has Floyd out on his feet. Always the finisher, Gatti closes in for the kill and backs Mayweather into the corner where a barrage of lethal shots finally force the ref to stop the fight.
Sorry Gatti fans, but this scenario is not going to happen. Throughout most of his career, Floyd was the pretty boy dancer. Floyd was elusive, he would box, he would dance and his style never made him a crowd pleaser. In his last few fights, we have seen a new Floyd, he's shown power that many never knew existed. The new power has generated a new fan base. Whether that is enough to steal some of the Gatti thunder, we'll know once the bell rings. I don't look for Mayweather to revert to his earlier dancing style. He has emerged into the full package and there is no reason to go back.
As for Gatti, his recent fights have shown him at his best. Gatti is always in top shape and there has never been a question regarding his heart. As the movie boxing hero who comes back from the depth of defeat to pull an unexplainable upset win, Gatti has always has the courage to pull one more out.
My thoughts, as much as Arturo has progressed, I can only hope that his courage and never give up attitude will not lead to permanent damage. Floyd has now surfaced as the fighter of the era. He still has all the boxing skills displayed throughout his career but now he has the addition of power.
Personally, even if it's only to hype the pay per view aspect of selling the fight, I don't like Floyd's talk of punishing Gatti because he's only a C class fighter. While Floyd considers himself at the top of the mythical pound for pound list and Floyd may very well be where he professes to be, but the verbal bashing of Gatti will win him no fans.
Arturo, on the other hand, is quiet in his resolve and determined in his mission. Does he have enough in his arsenal to stalk and absorb along the way in order to finally catch Floyd with the haymaker that can get him the victory? In the best of worlds, yes, but we don't live there. Look for a Mayweather victory by way of a seventh round stoppage.
I've never seen a Gatti fight that lacked excitement, this will be no exception.
Dr. Peter Edwards - I'm still surprised that Gatti's camp even took this fight, Floyd is the toughest test for him in the division. I think the Gatti camp views Floyd as a "small fighter" with "limited power". Gatti will swallow the hard truth on Saturday night when he gets hit with the first big right hand from Mayweather. Floyd can hit, not as hard as Gatti, but hard enough to hurt anyone at 140 pounds. I can't believe that some experts don't see Floyd having the power to stop Gatti. Gatti has been badly hurt by lesser fighters and has cheated against many others. What do I mean when I say the word cheated? Gatti sometimes outweighs his opponents by more then 20 pounds when he steps into the ring. The unfair advantage of coming into the ring as a middleweight makes Gatti even more dangerous if he lands a huge shot.
Mayweather brought up the fact that every fighter lets HBO weigh them backstage prior to a fight, but not Arturo Gatti. It will be interesting to see how much Gatti weighs for this fight when he steps into the ring. I see Mayweather dominating Gatti on route to stopping him in six rounds.
Andy Rivera - I think Mayweather is too much for Gatti. I truly believe Gatti is an all-time warrior, but that won't help him, Mayweather is ready to put on a show and looks prepared to put a hurting on Gatti. The think Gatti's trainer will have a plan against Mayweather, but Buddy McGirt isn't the one fighting. Gatti does have a puncher's chance but I don't see him landing anything flush. Mayweather will dice up Gatti, capture the WBC crown and move on to bigger game in the division.
David P. Greisman - My heart says Gatti, but my head overrules with Mayweather. Yes, Mayweather has not been hit by the likes of Gatti before, but it has been a long time since Gatti was in with anyone who had anywhere near the skills and intelligence of Pretty Boy Floyd. Gatti had trouble with Gianluca Branco, although it should be noted that he had hurt his hand again, the second time in a row when considering the third Ward bout.
Since then, Gatti's opposition has been a Leonard Dorin that was too small for junior welterweight, and a Jesse James Leija that was too long in the tooth. Floyd's level of opposition hasn't necessarily been top notch either, but I expect him to bring his A game. I believe Gatti will do the same, and I can never count out anyone trained by Buddy McGirt. I look for the fight to begin at a slower pace, with Mayweather measuring Gatti's power and Gatti trying to box, but once Mayweather figures Gatti out and exploded with flashy power punching. Around the halfway point, Gatti may catch Mayweather with some heavy shots, but Floyd's conditioning will come through, and he will distance himself from Gatti in the scorecards.
I expect a tenth round TKO, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was McGirt throwing in the towel, although a referee stoppage is also possible. McGirt was about to do so in the ninth round of the first Gatti/Ward encounter, he climbed the steps but changed his mind.
Again, my heart says Gatti, but my head says Mayweather.
Mike Indri - I said I wouldn't let my heart get into it, but in boxing, heart, character and intestinal fortitude are intrinsic with being a champion. Both of these talented fighters are champions. They say "on paper" that Gatti, a 4-1 underdog, has no chance. Mayweather is the most purely talented fighter today, but I just don't know what will happen if he finally gets hurt, there is no way to tell on how he will he respond. You can look awesome in beating everyone up, let's see what happens when the rabbit gets the gun. If Gatti can hurt Mayweather, he will win the fight.
Arturo Gatti upsets Floyd Mayweather via a 9-10th round TKO.
Ronnie Nathanielsz - Buddy McGirt has tried to turn Gatti from a brawler into a boxer. If Gatti tries to box Mayweather, the fight will turn into a mismatch because Floyd is just too good. The only chance for Gatti is to return to the puncher who mixed it up with Ward for three exciting fights. That's his only chance.
Dave Wilcox - All logic leads to Mayweather outclassing the rugged Gatti. The thing that keeps popping in my head is that as Mayweather has moved up in weight, he seems to stay more flatfooted than he should. I think Gatti might pose more problems than expected for "Pretty Boy" Floyd. Gatti's heart and power might keep him in the fight. Hopefully Gatti's face will hold up from the constant peppering by Mayweather's punches. Having said that, I have to go with my head on this one and say Mayweather will win a unanimous decision. The way things have been going, you just never know. Is there an upset in the air?
James Blears - The storm clouds are gathering apace. The weather prognosis is for a belt of hail, from he mix of thunder and lightning. Thunder may only be a noise and lightning can strike. But thunder can deafen and disorientate you too. With Buddy in his corner and the heart of a lion, Arturo Gatti is going to make this fight a thrilla. Floyd Mayweather is going to have the roughest time of his whole career, and he won't emerge from this one unblemished. But the gap in skill/ability factor is pretty big. It'll go the distance, there'll be loads of thrills and possibly even some spills. Floyd by split decision, but he'll know he's been in a fight and the fans will be clamoring for a rematch!
Jose Villegas - Floyd Mayweather via TKO in 9 rounds.
Why do people think Gatti will be competitive? Mayweather will outbox Gatti with ease. I'm sorry Gatti fans, but this this comes down to a bout with two fighters with two different levels of talent.
Richard McManus - Mayweather seems overconfident and he's never been in with anybody that can punch like Gatti. If Gatti can land to the body and slow Floyd down, he may achieve his wish of knocking Floyd out in the late rounds.
Prediction: Gatti via TKO in 9 rounds.
Jim Amato - Arturo is probably my favorite boxer active today. What tremendous fights he has given to boxing fans around the world. The trilogy with Mickey Ward and his wars with Wilson Rodriguez and Gabe Ruelas, make him a warrior in every sense of the word.
As much as I like Arturo I feel he has bitten off more then he can chew by taking on Floyd Mayweather Jr. To me, Floyd is the most naturally talented boxer since a young Roy Jones Jr. and Sugar Ray Leonard. He is that good! Whatever Gatti can do, Floyd can do better. In every category, jab, hand speed, power, defense and ring generalship all favor Floyd. This is not a knock against Arturo who can be quite a clever boxer when he chooses to go that route. Gatti also has some sting to his punches and is better defensively then he is given credit for. He just does not do these things as well as Floyd. I have to give Gatti the edge in heart because of his proven track record against world class opposition. Floyd has been in with some good hitters like Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, but he has yet to be tested like Arturo.
How do I see the fight coming out? I'm sad to say it but I see Mayweather winning and winning it big. I see him busting Gatti up early with his jab and sharp counter punches. He may even knock Arturo down but I doubt if he'll be able to keep the gutsy Gatti on the canvas. Midway through the fight there will be some wild exchanges as Floyd may get careless in his eagerness to put Arturo away. Finally Floyd will settle down and get back to his game plan. He'll go back to chopping Arturo up with stinging, rapid fire combinations forcing the referee to intervene and save Gatti from himself. I look for this to happen between rounds seven and nine.
It will be a nice payday and swan song for the most exciting boxer of this era, Arturo Gatti.
Matteo Alderson - Gatti has a heart the size of an elephant, he truly is a warrior, but Mayweather is the closest thing there is to a prime Roy Jones. Mayweather's best performances always come in his biggest fights, the Genaro Hernandez match, the Manfredy fight, the Corrales fight, and his second go around with Castillo. I think the fight is important to Floyd’s career from a marketing standpoint and will help him break into the mainstream, but I don’t think it’s that competitive of a match. I think Mayweather is going to box the daylights out of Gatti, he might get hit a couple of times, but I think Floyd stops him on cuts late in the fight or wins a lopsided decision. I call it a 117-111 decision win for Mayweather.
Robert Padilla - I don't think this fight will live up to the hype, I think that I can get more action out of watching paint dry. This fight will likely get my vote for the most boring fight of the year I vision Floyd hitting and running, while Arturo is chasing and missing. Styles make fights and these styles won't work. Floyd by decision after a sleepy night.
Ja Lang G. Greene - I hate to go with everyone else on this fight, but Mayweather will win a unanimous decision. Mayweather will be hurt early and show big heart by pulling out a huge career defining win in his toughest fight to date.
Tom Donelson - This fight is not the mismatch that most of us see for one reason, Gatti has a slugger's chance. Mayweather's advantages are numerous. He is fast, a great boxer, has power and is one of this generation's best fighters. Gatti has two advantages in his favor, he can punch and he is willing to die in the ring rather than lose. Mayweather is fighting a guy who will stand his ground and take his best. And there is that ego thing, Mayweather may purposely allow Gatti to test his chin.
While Gatti and Mayweather began their careers as junior lightweights, Gatti has been fighting at the 140 and 147 pound divisions for a longer period of time and will be the bigger guy. This will not matter since Mayweather has shown with his easy victory over Corrales, that he can beat a bigger guy.
Mayweather wins by a late round stoppage, in my opinion Floyd is just too quick and Mayweather that he wants to prove something. Gatti will put on a good show but it will not be enough.
Rick Reeno - I've been a huge fan of both fighters, but I can't base my opinion on personal feelings towards either fighter. This bout represents the biggest fight in the career of Floyd Mayweather Jr., the fight is huge for Gatti as well, but Mayweather has so much more on the line. The one thing I learned from speaking to several fighters that have been in the ring with Mayweather is that Floyd is deceptively strong. He wears opponents down with his punches and his right hand can put Gatti in trouble if it lands flush.
The one question everyone seems to be asking is what will happen if Gatti lands a flush shot on Mayweather. I personally feel that Floyd will never give Gatti the chance to land a flush shot and will likely wear him down enough in the late rounds that Gatti's punches will be zapped of their pop. The last time I saw Mayweather this hyped up for a fight was against Diego Corrales and we all saw what happened, a one sided destruction by Floyd. Mayweather is coming into this fight with years of anger built up in his system for being overlooked by the boxing public.
I see Mayweather coming out strong to get Gatti's respect. Gatti will stand his ground, but Mayweather will close the show by the seventh round of the fight.