Mayweather's speed overwhelms Gatti

"Lightning" overwhelmed "Thunder" Saturday, as speedy Floyd Mayweather routed Arturo Gatti and became the new WBC jr. welterweight champ.

Originally Published: June 25, 2005
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.– Floyd Mayweather Jr., who belittled Arturo Gatti by calling him a C-plus fighter throughout the buildup to their fight, made him look more like an F fighter.

Arturo Gatti
Gatti regretted playing "headhunter" and deviating from his gameplan.

Mayweather landed combinations nearly at will on the slower Gatti and pounded him relentlessly until trainer Buddy McGirt stopped the fight with Gatti on the stool after the sixth round Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall.

The sold-out crowd of 12,675 – nearly all Gatti supporters – watched as Mayweather destroyed their hero. Mayweather won virtually every second of the fight to take Gatti's junior welterweight title.

Mayweather (34-0, 23 KOs) is now a three-division champion, having also won titles at 130 and 135 pounds. At 140 pounds, there are huge fights for Mayweather on the horizon. Division kingpin Ricky Hatton was ringside, as was title holder Miguel Cotto.

It was apparent early on that Gatti (39-7), a cult hero among boxing fans because of his propensity for bloody fights and miracle comebacks, had no chance against Mayweather.

He simply could not deal with Mayweather's speed and accuracy. HBO will replay the bout next Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

"Too much speed," Gatti said. "Things weren't coming out right. He's fast. He's harder to hit than I thought. I was head hunting too much. Buddy kept telling me to stop head hunting but I couldn't stop. He was just too quick."

Mayweather, who was carried to the ring on a chariot with the Queen song "Another One Bites the Dust" blaring, knocked Gatti down in the first round when Gatti, thinking the referee was going to break the fighters, turned away and was nailed with a left hook.

Gatti went to his knees but was up quickly. However, it set the tone for the domination that would follow.

"I was always told to protect yourself at all times," Mayweather said. "The referee [Earl Morton] let us fight."

Floyd Mayweather (center)
Even after dominating Gatti, Mayweather (center) seemed stunned by the ease of his victory.

"I thought the referee would break us apart because [Mayweather] held my head down, but he hit me," Gatti said. "I guess you have to protect yourself at all times. I learned that lesson the hard way."

Mayweather was landing everything – left hooks, right hands, body shots and a sneaky uppercut– throughout the fight. The typical scene went like this: Mayweather landed a three-punch combination and quickly moved away without taking anything in return.

"We got off track in the first round," McGirt said. "Mayweather is a very good fighter. You can't take anything away from him, but Arturo got off the game plan. I wanted him to work the body and circle to his left. You can't stand in front of Floyd."

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In the end, Mayweather connected on 168 of 295 blows (57 percent) while Gatti managed to land a paltry 41 of 245 punches (17 percent).

"This is one of his most dazzling performances," said Roger Mayweather, Floyd's trainer and uncle. "Floyd is used to big fights. I'm not surprised what happened. He thought he was the champion coming into this fight."

Indeed, it ranks up there with his demolitions of Genaro Hernandez, Angel Manfredy and Diego Corrales.

Midway through the fourth, Mayweather landed a five-punch combination from all angles without Gatti throwing a single punch in return. Moments later, it was a six-punch combo from Mayweather, again with no answer from Gatti.

In the sixth round it was obvious that Gatti was in trouble. There would be no miracle comeback, no two-way brawl.

Mayweather was gracious in victory after a trash-talking buildup.

"Gatti was tough, strong and came to fight. I respect Arturo for giving me the chance to win the title," he said. "He's a great champion and I'm a great champion. Everything I said about him before the fight was just to hype the fight."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.

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