Be careful what you wish for. Arturo Gatti was looking for a high profile dance partner, one who could catapult him to the lucrative stratosphere of pay-per view and pound for pound superstardom. And Floyd Maywether, the talented, yet enigmatic virtuoso, is looking to escape the bottomless pit of mainstream anonymity. Gatti’s odds to pull this out are slim, but boxing's blood and guts warrior has made his name defeating the odds, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. After out-boxing Tracey Patterson in their first fight, many believed Gatti couldn’t do it again.He did. His come from behind knockout against Wilson Rodriguez, punctuated by a one of the greatest left hooks you’ll ever see, tested the mettle of a young warrior. After getting stopped by Angel Manfredy and losing twice in a row to Ivan Robinson, Gatti came back to end the career of the grostesquely undersized Joey Gamache with a barrage of powerful haymakers.
Most thought Gatti’s career had crested after Oscar De La Hoya toyed with what was then an rapidly aging, bloated fighter. Many considered Gatti would be best served by calling it day, but he had other ideas. He re-dedicated himself to the sport, and stopped blowing up like a Thanksgiving Parade float in between fights.
After fighting life and death against Micky Ward in their first bout, Gatti silenced his critics and soundly out-boxed Ward in his next two outings.
Now, the critics, like Boxingtalk Publisher G. Leon, believe Gatti has no chance to dethrone Mayweather.
And you know what, for once, they might be right. Floyd Maywether is not some anonymous European or shop worn veteran looking lay down; he’s the most talented fighter in the world. He has toyed fighters far superior than Gatti, including Diego Corrales, Gernaro Hernandez, and Jesus Chavez.
Gatti, regardless of his newfound boxing acumen, is a still a glorified brawler, another fighter with a meaningless title belt. Fighters of Gatti’s ilk rarely, if ever, beat pound for pound greats. They can make things interesting for a while, but in the end, the cream tends to rise to the top.
Regardless, Maywether is coming into this fight with more baggage than a Samsonite factory. His repeated scrapes with the law and sometimes abrasive personality have helped him become a fan favorite.
His tendency to defend, counterpunch, and use his quickness has not yet endeared him to the casual sports fans, the ones looking for blood and carnage. Even as Maywether continues to assert his greatness and Gatti wavers between paper champion and club fighter, one undeniable fact remains: people love Gatti, not Maywether.
And that’s why this fight is taking place. Maywether needs a big fight worse than Warrior's Boxing does. He needs a victory over Gatti as step one of endearing himself to the casual sports fan. Unfortunately, victories over Jose Luis Castillo, Diego Corrales, Jesus Chavez and Carlos Hernandez did little to impress “John Q Sports Fan." But an impressive victory over Gatti will do that, even if it proves less.
Maybe Gatti can snatch victory from the bowels of defeat. Maybe he can land one more left hook for the road, to punctuate an already thrilling career. Maybe he can stun the critics, like myself, who feel his chances “are slim and none and slim has left town.”Whatever happens, whether he ends the fight with his hands raised in victory or folded in defeat, he’s guaranteed to provide us with one more thrilling fight.