A Few Thoughts On Saturday Night

By Tom Donelson
Updated: June 27, 2005

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather

NEW YORK — Floyd Mayweather is one of those once in a generation fighter, a man who is a maestro in the ring. He can punch and he can box. He can do it all. A rarity among boxers and yet, the man is the Rodney Dangerfield of boxing, he gets no respect.

Part of the reason may be Mayweather himself. This guy is a PR nightmare despite his good looks and pleasant smiles. It appears that he wants to cultivate his outlaw image and boxing fans never have warmed up to this modern day maestro. His outside life often resembled the chaos that mired Mike Tyson’s career over the past decade and half. As one boxing pundit noted, this guy could not even fill out boxing arenas in his own hometown.

Mayweather walked into the ring, he was carrying every insult, real or perceived. Mayweather often fought best when the anger seeped out of his pores. Make no mistakes, Mayweather was determine to make Gatti pay for every insult that ever came his way.

As for Gatti, he was the ultimate warrior. Not the best fighter of his generation, he was one of the more exciting. Every fight had the potential for a bloodbath. His war with Mickey Ward presented boxing at its more glorious and primitive. Both men just traded punches for 30 rounds over a trilogy that saw both ending up in the various ER afterwards. A Gatti fight often proved to be theatre of the unexpected for you never quite knew what would happen but whatever happened, it was usually worth the admission price.

Gatti was the decided underdog but he held a portion of the junior welterweight championship. Mayweather resented the fact that Gatti not only held the championship but he was garnering the big portion of the purse. It was Gatti, whose charisma filled the stand.

After the first round, the mismatch became apparent. Mayweather provided a virtuoso performance as he hit Gatti at will. Near the end of the round, Gatti forgot the golden rule as he put his hands down, expecting the referee to break the action. The referee did not yell break and Mayweather nailed Gatti with a left hook, sending Gatti to the canvas.

From this point, Mayweather hit Gatti as he would hit a punching bag and rarely did he receive a punch back in anger or otherwise. Gatti punches mostly hit air as Mayweather consistently stepped out of the range of the slower moving Gatti’s bombs.. Gatti’s face swelled up more and more with each ensuing round. What the fight showed that conventional wisdom was right- Mayweather was the superior fighter.

The junior welterweights remains boxing deepest but Mayweather showed that he is the class of the division, even if he does not hold the official title of champion since it was Ricky Hatton, who dethroned Kosyta Tzyu. Mayweather is one of this generation best fighters and could have been competitive in any generation.

Vivian Harris was the unknown champ. For Harris, he could not be satisfied with a win, he had to win big. He had to dominate and knock his opponent out. Being the undercard fight to Mayweather-Gatti, he had this one opportunity to show boxing fans that he would be worth an future admission. This fight was his opportunity to show HBO that he could headline a major event against a major opponent. Harris wasn’t fighting for a title; he was fighting for a financial payday.

With Carlos Maussa standing in his way, Harris had power to control what happened next in his career. Maussa had 15 KOs in 17 wins including prospect Jeff Resto, so there was a threat to Harris. If Harris was the real deal, then Maussa was the kind of the fight that he should win and win impressively.

Yet, it did not happen. Harris showed one serious flaw, he could not keep his emotion in check. He came out flinging and in the opening minute had Maussa in trouble with a vicious right. After two minutes, Harris looked exhausted. Throwing every punch with bad intentions and intending to make a big splash, he failed to use his left jab or his boxing movement.

Maussa turned the tide of the battle after the opening two minutes of the fight and started to impose his own will. Harris nailed the tough Maussa with left hooks and rights throughout the fight but they did little damage. Maussa effectively went to the body and his awkward style proved problematic to Harris.

Another Harris failure was not listening to his corner man Emanuel Steward, who deplored his charge to box and use his left, in particular his left hook. Harris just didn’t listen to his corner and in the seventh, he ran right into a short left hook. Steward was right; a left hook would end the fight but it Maussa who took Steward advice. Harris is a good fighter but not a smart fighter. He allowed his emotion to take charge and Maussa took advantage.

Finally, it was nice to see Max Kellerman back doing boxing. I must admit, I was not a Max Kellerman fan when he first was appeared on ESPN but the man grew on me. I remember ripping him when he made the statement that Roy Jones could beat Joe Frazier. The next night, Jack Dunne wrote me a little note and asked, if I ever said something stupid that I regretted later. Dunne’s point was on target, I was far too harsh on Kellerman. The following week, Max Kellerman retracted his statement and suddenly, I was felt a little smaller and gave Max a second chance. After that, Kellerman enthusiasm grew on me and I became a Max Kellerman fan.

Kellerman loves the sport and knows the sport. Boxing needs reporters like Kellerman for their love of the sport takes precedence and Kellerman’s observation last Saturday night was right on target.