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Articles of 2005

Mayweather Never Let Gatti Get Started



ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The difficulty in watching an icon fall, before his legion of worshippers, in such definitive fashion, was evident in the misty eyes of promoter Kathy Duva, the slumped shoulders of manager Pat Lynch, the mid-ring breakdown by matchmaker Carl Moretti, the resigned decision by trainer Buddy McGirt to end the fight at its midpoint, and of course the battered face of their beloved warrior Arturo Gatti.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.? Of course, he was nothing short of magnificent, as most everyone outside the 12,675 loyalists at Boardwalk Hall anticipated.

By stopping Gatti after six rounds of a scheduled 12, and lifting the WBC super lightweight championship, Mayweather cemented his claim to pound-for-pound supremacy, if not the linear 140-pound title which still belongs to Ricky Hatton.

But what of Gatti?

Fifteen years as a professional fighter, a Fight of the Year seemingly every time the calendar turns, and the one-way beating he absorbed from Mayweather, have led Gatti to yet another career crossroads.

He has chosen the correct fork in most previous applications, of which there have been several. At 39-7 overall, and 32 years of age, Gatti said he has one more championship run left in him, at welterweight.

That is no certainty now, not after the lopsided beating delivered by Mayweather, whose 23rd inside-the-distance win on a 34-0 record was the second-briefest stoppage loss of Gatti's career (surpassed only by his fifth-round loss to Oscar De La Hoya in 2001), as well as the second-briefest stoppage win in a championship fight for Mayweather (surpassed by his second-round blitz of Angel Manfredy in 1998).

Gatti's run at 147 pounds will provide box-office success because of his incredible drawing power here.

Yet the possibility is clear that Gatti saw the end of his last world-title claim Saturday night, which left a wistful, nostalgic air.

“There's an old rule in boxing that you don't fall in love with your fighter,” said Moretti, whose tears flowed freely in the ring afterward. “I think for this whole team — Buddy, Pat Lynch and the whole family — that goal went out the window about 20 years ago, when we met Arturo. He just kept fighting and fighting. There's no shame in losing to the best fighter in the world.”

Gatti never got started because Mayweather never let him. A first-round knockdown, while Gatti complained about Mayweather hitting on the break, set the fight's tone. In fact, referee Earl Morton never ordered the break — Mayweather's quick combination landed after the fighters separated themselves — and while Gatti complained, Mayweather landed the left hook which floored him.

Gatti broke rule number one and paid for it.

“I think it threw me off a little bit,” Gatti said of the knockdown. “But the referee always says, 'Protect yourself at all times.' I guess I learned the hard way.”

McGirt called that moment the difference in the fight, saying Gatti grew immediately and unnecessarily concerned with rallying to cover the two-point deficit on the scorecards, although judge John Stewart somehow scored the round only 10-9.

“After that little mishap, everything went out the window,” McGirt said. “He lost total focus after that. He started the first round the way he should have, then he lost concentration. When you're fighting a guy like Floyd, you've got to stay focused every second. You can't get off track, because once you get off track they get a rhythm, and once they get a rhythm that's it.”

That rhythm pounded almost ceaselessly for the remaining five rounds.

Mayweather swept every round on every scorecard, including two 10-8 scores in the first round, and 10-8 on all three cards in the sixth round.

CompuBox statistics had Mayweather landing 57 percent of his punches (168 of 295), to Gatti's 17 percent (41 of 245). Worse yet for Gatti was the disparity in power punches landed — 115 for Mayweather, 10 for Gatti.

On the rare occasions Gatti tried to open up offensively, Mayweather found counterpunching opportunities bountiful. And when Gatti didn't open up, Mayweather took the lead and controlled the action with even greater ease.

“He gave Floyd time to think, which made the fight that much easier,” said Roger Mayweather, who trains his nephew. “Now, he's not being the aggressive guy, he's trying to outthink you — and it's hard to outthink a guy who's a pure boxer.”

McGirt watched the fight unfold even as he pondered when to stop it. During the break between the fifth and sixth rounds, McGirt asked Gatti to tell him what was wrong. McGirt recalled looking at the puffy-faced fighter, whose left eye was swelling shut quickly, and hearing him respond that, “I just can't get off.”

McGirt decided right then to give Gatti one more round. When it ended up being Gatti's worst round of the fight, McGirt told Gatti he was stopping it.

Gatti asked for one more round. McGirt told him no. The fighter slumped and dropped his head into his trainer's chest, though he never questioned the decision.

“My trainer decided I was getting hit too much, punched too much,” Gatti said. “I think it was the right decision because I want to come back at 147 pounds one more time. If I had gone a couple more rounds, I might've gotten hurt.

“I'm 32 years old and it's not the first time that I've taken a beating.”

It was a tough night for Main Events, the New Jersey promotional company which lost two title claims in the same weight division on the same night. Colombia's Carlos Maussa, 19-2 (17) lifted the WBA 140-pound title from Vivian Harris (25-2-1) on a seventh-round knockout. The fight exposed a gross lack of conditioning by Harris, who appeared on wobbly legs as early as the third round.

All four of the alphabet titles at 140 pounds were defended within a three-week period, with three of them changing hands. Only WBO titleholder Miguel Cotto was spared.

Amid the concern for Gatti's future, Mayweather's future grew exponentially.

At just 28 years old, and with his third title claim in less than nine years as a pro, Mayweather already is on the cusp of taking over the mantle of boxing's senior elite warrior, with such big names as Tyson, De La Hoya and Hopkins at or near the end of their prizefighting journeys.

“I feel it's my time,” Mayweather said. “I knew eventually it was going to happen. I just kept taking my time, kept racking up victories, kept beating the best they could put in front of me, and eventually I knew it would be my turn. And now it's my turn.

“I only want to fight big fights and I want to be on pay-per-view until the end of my career. This was a beginning. I think I put on one hell of a show and I think I showed people I deserve to be on pay-per-view, I deserve to be up here, I deserve the center of attention, and my hard work and dedication have paid off.”

Mayweather called out Hatton in a fight that would end all debate about the 140-pound champion, though Hatton voiced a preference for fighting Cotto.

“Obviously, I'm here to generate publicity and try to get fights with the top guys in the division,” said Hatton, who attended Saturday's show. “Cotto is a fight boxing fans would want to see. We're both great fighters. Hopefully, we'll be able to get it on.”

While not the linear champion, Mayweather said he believes fans should compare his win over Gatti to Hatton's upset of Kostya Tszyu, and make a subjective determination who is more worthy of being called the division's true champion.

“After tonight, I believe I'm the 140-pound champion,” he said. “You've got to look at the performances, how Ricky Hatton performed and how I performed, then you take the two and say, 'Who performed the best?' I feel I performed the best. It wasn't a wrestling match. I went out there and proved myself and I boxed. I showed this sport is boxing, not wrestling.”

Mayweather, just as he predicted, quieted the crowd with an early offensive outburst. It was a calculated plan, based on Gatti's penchant for feeding off his home crowd's energy.

“A lot of fighters play to the crowd,” Mayweather said. “Even like with basketball, the (home) team always plays to the crowd. I said, 'I'm going to stay focused, I'm going to block everybody out, and I'm going to imagine it's just me and him in here.' And that's what I did.”

Meantime, McGirt said speed — the distinguishing characteristic in this and many other Mayweather fights — was the variable for which Gatti could not prepare, even during a three-month training camp.

“You can't simulate it. You can't. It's impossible,” McGirt said. “So the key is (to) get guys who are fast and work on what you need to do to beat Floyd. He did well in camp but Floyd was the better man tonight. I'd say he's the best out there right now. He's earned it. He beat the best. I can't take anything away from him.”

McGirt made the decision to stop the fight, though that call was not nearly as difficult as witnessing the six rounds leading up to it.

Gatti's boxing ambassadorship has been a rare phenomenon, mixing uncommon determination and bravery with just enough talent to make the formula work. He parlayed that into two world-title claims, even though his career seemed scrapheaped in the late-1990s.

He isn't on the scrap heap now. His career can absorb a seventh loss far more easily than Mayweather could have absorbed a first loss.

But where Gatti goes from here is a question to be answered in the months to come.

For the time being, Gatti's many fans and admirers are no different than Team Gatti's inner core, as they salve the pain of the defeat, and hope Saturday's unsightly loss is not the one from which their hero can not bounce back.

“You know, it was hard for everyone,” McGirt said. “But they still love him. So if he fought next week, it would still be sold out.”

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More



A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights




Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06



Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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