Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, his trainer Buddy McGirt, Carl Moretti from Main Events and manager Pat Lynch met with members of the press via telephone conference call from their Vero Beach, Florida training camp on June 15 to discuss the upcoming fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Gatti: It’s going to pay off for me again this time. My boxing skills: that’s what everyone forgets that I can do. It was very important for me to win that title. And it was very hard also. Not knowing my opponent and not knowing how he was going to come out, I hurt my hands in that fight and it didn’t go as I planned. But I was happy the way it turned out and I was happy to win the title and be a two-time world champion.
What do you see in Mayweather?
Gatti: He didn’t bring out the best in me. That’s just who I am as a fighter. I only bring the best of me and that is great. Everything that night I learned that night had accrued in the last five years with Buddy, and I knew that for a fact. Which is why I am very excited about this fight. I think that Buddy and I are one and we work great together. I won a lot of my fights by listening to Buddy in training camp and I bring that to the ring. Mayweather likes to talk a lot, but his chin is suspect. We’ll see what he says on the 25th. That’s all I have to say.
Who do you think is most similar to Mayweather that you’ve fought?
Gatti: I have mentioned to Pat and Buddy and Carl that he is like Eddie Austin, that’s who I compare him to. Is he overconfident? I think he is, but he’s not a stupid guy, and the people that handle him are not stupid either. They might talk a lot of crap but they know what they have against them. I think he will come prepared. I want him to be at his best anyway – because I am.
Will there be a point in the fight where you want to try and rough him up?
Gatti: The fight will be exciting. I am going to explode on him. I am going to use my hands and listen to Buddy. We know what we are going to do and that’s how I’m going to do it in this fight. (Mayweather) never did (have to dig deep) and we’ll see how much balls he has. I know I have a big heart and a lot of balls. I don’t think he has that and I think he’s going to need them on the 25th.
Do you consider Mayweather a step up in competition?
Gatti: I have been boxing all of my life. I have boxed the best. I boxed against professionals as an amateur. He’s not the best I have ever fought, not at all.
Who is the best you have fought?
Gatti: I used to spar with Pernell Whitaker for four or five years. I think he is better than Mayweather, and more intelligent. Put it that way. If he wants to fight Arturo Gatti, that is my turf and that’s where we are going to fight. Once you are in the ring, it doesn’t matter where you really are. But to be honest with you, what I am going to do to him on the 25th I would do anywhere else.
What did Buddy do for you between Gatti-Ward I & II?
Gatti: Just spending time in the gym and drilling it into my head that I’m a good boxer, don’t worry about my power, the power is there naturally. Don’t try to punch hard, you just punch hard, you don’t have to think about punching hard. You have it. Throw combinations and I have good legs. He drilled that into my head and I’m staring to like it. I really like to fight that way I fight now.
Is the hand trouble behind you now?
Gatti: Well, you know the hands. They are always going to hurt. But many times I have broken a hand but it’s not going to stop me on the 25th either. Experience is always important when the fight gets tough. I have it and I’ve learned a lot. I have more experience than him and I’ve been around boxing more than him. I’ve been in tough fights and I came out of them a winner. He has had it easy because he is a good fighter. He has great ability, so you can’t say he’s had it too easy.
Your last two fights were short, how does that affect you?
Gatti: That was the proof of my ability. That was the proof of Buddy and (me) working together. The 25th will just be another fight and more proof. Because I am getting better is why those fights were so short. It lined me up for a great fight against Mayweather. I was waiting and I signed the fight. I was in and I was waiting for him. Then one day I got tired. I told my manager to forget about it. If he’s not signed, I’m done. I postponed it – then he signed.
Mayweather has mentioned he would make this a fight.
Gatti: I don’t know if it will make it easier. I do know one thing that when I clip him in the chin and he doesn’t get knocked out, he will run. I am going to do what I am supposed to do and you will see on the 25th. Buddy is determined about what we are going to do in the ring. I could do both.
Do you expect Mayweather to come after Arturo?
McGirt: This is how I see it. The closer to the fight we get, the reality is going to set in on Mayweather. He can talk all he wants, but once he gets in there and gets touched, he is going to have to switch tactics. He can do whatever he wants, but we do what we have to do to win. I don’t care what he tries. It is not going to help him. I believe in my heart that Arturo is going to win this fight easier than people think. Everyone is saying Floyd is this and Floyd is that. We are going to find out. They underestimate Arturo. They underestimate him a whole lot. That’s what is going to make it more exciting. He is a much better fighter than they think he is. Arturo rises to the occasion of his opponent. He knows he is going to rise for Floyd and he knows that what we worked on he is going to do. If he does that, I’m telling you, it’s not going to be as hard as you think.
Gatti: Can I take his punch? Of course I can take his punch. I can take pretty much anybody’s punch. I’ve been down and I got up and finished the fight. Talent-wise, I think Mayweather is one of the most talented fighters I have fought, but I’ve been in the ring with a lot of really good fighters. Most of my opponents are tougher than Mayweather. He has the ability. Tough? I don’t know how tough he is. I’ll find out. He’s good for pay-per-view, that’s for sure. I am coming to win the fight and the rest. I am concentrating on what I’ve got to do and I’m not worried about what he is saying about me. The only time we will be together is at the weigh-in. I am afraid I am going to backhand him. I know at the weigh-in I just want to weight myself and get the hell out of there. He can do whatever he wants. He can talk to himself.
How many pounds do you expect to put on between the weigh-in and the fight?
Gatti: Naturally, 15 or 20 pounds is just a natural thing for me to do. I don’t look to do that. Do you know what I mean? It just happens. It’s not a goal for me to come in at
Moretti: He’s not going to have many more meals than he normally does.
Can you talk about the excitement of the fight?
Gatti: I love it and I think it’s very exciting for me. I will finally be respected after I win this fight. This is an important fight for me because of who I am fighting against. This is my time. I’ve worked hard to be where I am and have gone through some tough times in my boxing career. I cleaned myself up and I did the right thing. I’m at the position where I want to be against a fighter who will make me be what I want to be. I have worked hard to be where I am today and a lot of people are going to have to apologize to me after this fight. A lot of people.
What about the 140 lb. division?
Gatti: What I want to say, to be honest with you, once I move up to 147, there isn’t going to be a 140. Everyone is going to be at 147. After this fight I would like to fight a ten-rounder at 147 to see how I feel, whether I will stay at 147 or go back to 140.
Did sparring with Whitaker help you today?
Gatti: He was pound-for-pound at one time and he was using me for his sparring. Of course I learned a lot from him. The best thing about getting ready for this fight is that I’m in great shape and I know I have Buddy in my corner. I’m not worried about nothing. There is nothing out there that is going to touch me that night.
Is Micky Ward going to be in your corner for this fight?
Mayweather has referred to you and Micky as journeyman fighters.
Gatti: Mayweather’s got a big mouth. Micky’s the toughest guy I ever fought. Mayweather might be talented and everything, but he wished he had the balls that Arturo has. We are going to find out if he has that anyway on the 25th.
How did camp go?
Gatti: I did a little more with the weights and kinesthetic. And I did what Buddy wanted me to do.
Do you think Mayweather deserved his ranking in p4p?
Gatti: I really don’t care. I mean, what is pound-for-pound? I really don’t give a $#%^. The only thing I care about is that I’m going in the ring on the 25th to fight. It’s not that I don’t like the guy. On the 25th I am coming to fight and I’m going to prove to the world that I’m a good fighter. I don’t like the way I’ve been spoken about. Forget about the ability I have as a fighter. I know I’m a tough guy with a lot of guts and I don’t give up. That’s all they talk about, and they forget about my ability. I train hard for every fight I have.
Gatti: After the victory I will have the respect as being one of the best in the world.
What does a big KO feel like?
Gatti: It feels great. It feels good for me when I knock somebody out, actually. I like it. I get turned on. It’s good to have good surroundings with you. When you have a good manager and good promoters that care for the manager, it definitely helps the fighter. When you are young and make a few dollars, you do stupid things, but when you have good people around you they can tell you to wake up. Those three fights with Micky Ward were great fights – that’s what people remember – but I had great fights before that in my career. But that’s what people want to remember me as.
Moretti: You know it takes more than brawling to beat Micky Ward. You have to be immensely talented to do it and to do it the way Micky did. Outside of brawling, those talents came out and that’s how he beat Micky Ward.
How do you feel about fighting in Atlantic City?
Gatti: I think it’s great. I love Atlantic City. What I love is that they were there for me in the beginning and even when I had three losses in a row they were still there cheering for me and supporting me and I owe it to them.
Do you feel strength and size will be a factor?
Gatti: This is the same camp I had and I actually lifted more for this fight than I did with Micky. My size and my strength . . . I am bringing that. That’s what I’m bringing in the ring also. The longer the fight goes, the better it is for me.
The feeling is that if you can get to Mayweather you can stop him.
Gatti: It’s not if I get him. He is going to walk into it. He’s that type of fighter. People forget. He loves to throw fast hands, but he always opens up. He is always open. Don’t worry, he is getting caught.
Will you be going to the body?
Gatti: That’s the thing. Not too many people look to go to the body. I think I am a very good body puncher and we are definitely going to use that. I am going to take him down. That’s what I am going to do. We always talk about how I am going to fight this fight. Forget about the head. He’s trying to ruffle me, but that (stuff) doesn’t work with me. Guys 6’5” don’t intimidate me, so he’s not either. Mayweather is considered the best and I think he’s a great fighter. What people think he is? That’s great. And for me to beat him, that will be a great achievement for me and he’s the type of fighter that I need to beat to be where I want to be in life.
What is his biggest weakness?
Gatti: His chin. What I have I been studying on him? Nothing. I just listen to Buddy. I have the best corner. He’s been doing the homework for me and I’ve been doing the job. We are going to break him down and we’ll see after the seventh, eighth, ninth. That’s when the real fight starts. We’ll see if he’s still there.
I notice Mayweather throws the forearm to the throat.
Gatti: I am going to address it with the same thing, so I’m not worried about his dirtiness. I can be just as dirty.
Who will be the cutman?
Gatti: Joe Souza. He never left. Only with Jesse James. He’s been there for me when I needed him most and he’s a loyal guy. That’s what I respect about him.
What type of fight would you like to have?
Gatti: I’m not sure. I would like anything. Whatever I need to do is going to get done. I think I’ve brought a good image to the sport for a long time. For me to win this fight, it will be great. It will be great for anybody that’s been with me and it will be great for the fans that really love me and that have been there for me.
What is the biggest compliment you have received from other fighters?
Gatti: I have a big heart and big balls. I can’t say who told me that, but I’ve been told that many times.
McGirt: He wins all of his fights the same way. He can’t hide his medula oblongata. He tucks his chin, but he can’t hide his medula oblongata behind that. When he gets hit in the medula oblongata he won’t feel anything, but when he wakes up it will be all over. The medula oblongata is right behind the ear and he won’t feel anything. He can’t protect it. I don’t care how slick he is, but if he can protect that, he belongs in a circus, in a freak show. When he hits him there and he wakes up and they’re sweeping the floors he is going to be wondering what happened.
How does it feel with 12,000 fans cheering for you?
Gatti: It feels great . . . especially when I have him hurt. When the crowd goes crazy, it definitely gives you a boost. I will get him hurt and it will be great. I love my fans and Atlantic City is a great place to be.
Can you make a prediction?
Gatti: Victory. I am winning this fight. I am winning the fight.
What do you think about Mayweather yukking it up with the TV guys during the fight?
Gatti: He’s never going to do that with me.
Moretti: Maybe it was a reflection on the quality of the opponent he was fighting.
Gatti: All of the cockiness, all of the talking he does – once he steps into that ring, once he steps into that ring, once he gets to Atlantic City, his whole attitude is changing because he knows what he is going to face.
McGirt: The crowd was so small that he thought he was in the gym in a sparring match.
Moretti: The only way Lampley heard him was because there was no one in the audience watching him fight.
Gatti: There is no way in the friggin’ world that he is going to (screw) around with me. After my victory, I have been fine at 140 for a while and it’s hard, but I don’t know. I would like to try 147, but I will sit down with Buddy, Pat and my promoter and talk to see what our options are: what is the best fight for me.
I noticed Mayweather freezes up after being hit.
Gatti: He’s not used to being hit, that’s why. He’s bringin speed. I’m bringing everything else.
When he tucks himself in there, people don’t see a target and don’t throw any punches.
McGirt: The abul aboogala. It’s the truth. Think about it. I rest my case. Medula oblongata.
Gatti: I work very hard and Buddy works very hard, but you know what, it’s always a pleasure going into the gym and seeing Buddy. I’m being honest about that. I go in there with a bad attitude but as soon as I see him and he cracks me up and I feel like working. That’s the best part.
What is you walking around weight?
Gatti: It depends. 170. Lately I’ve been walking around at 165, 167,170.
How long does it take you to get down?
Gatti: If I had to get down in 4 weeks, I could. But that’s why I come to camp for three months. I take my time and I drop weight nice and easy and that’s why I am always strong.
What did people say about you when you were down?
Gatti: I was finished. I was shot. I don’t have it any more. I screw around too much. The only thing that was right was I was going a little too crazy in between fights. Those days are over. Those things have changed and people wanted me to retire but I knew in my heart that I still had it. Look where I am today. I teamed up with Buddy and it’s the best thing that happened.
What were the behaviors and how did you reinvent yourself?
Gatti: Number one, I think I got lazy a little bit training-wise. I decided I think I belong at 147 when I fought De La Hoya. I think I got lazy and it made me realize, even thought my trainer through the towel in a little early, but I felt I needed to recuperate and work harder and go down to 140 and start from there and that’s what I did.
What do you mean when you say going crazy?
Gatti: Just having a good time, just going wild. I’m a wild guy. Look at the way I fight. I can’t be normal. (Mayweather’s) never been in the situations that I’ve been in. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. He’s got a lot to prove, as much as he talks. I’m ready to die in that ring. I think I saw him fight a couple of rounds, but in those two rounds I could see his body talk. I know the way he is and I know when he’s hurt. I know when he’s vulnerable.