ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Arturo Gatti had the crowd. Floyd Mayweather Jr. had everything else.
Putting on a dazzling display of speed and power, Mayweather gave Gatti a vicious beating Saturday night that quickly quieted the sellout crowd that had come to root on their local hero and soon after earned him a piece of the 140-pound title.
Gatti took tremendous punishment to both the body and head and his eyes were swelling shut when his corner finally called it quits after six rounds of a fight he was never in.
It was a breakout performance by the unbeaten Mayweather, who despite his many skills had never been the box office attraction that his brawling opponent has been in this gambling city.
''I feel it's my turn. I knew eventually it was going to happen,'' Mayweather said. ''I kept beating whoever they put in front of me.''
Showing flashy skills that Gatti had no answer for, Mayweather pounded him with shots to the body and head for six rounds before the stunned crowd at Boardwalk Hall. Gatti was still on his feet but staggered to his corner and barely made it back to his stool.
''I'm stopping it, baby. I'm stopping it,'' Gatti's trainer, Buddy McGirt, told his fighter, who protested only briefly. ''No more. No more. Your eyes are closing.''
Mayweather, a heavy favorite, remained undefeated in 34 fights and won his third title in as many weight classes with the performance of his career. He easily avoided Gatti's punches and landed his own with crisp precision while Gatti's face swelled.
''This was one of his most dazzling performances,'' Mayweather's trainer, Roger Mayweather, said. ''Floyd is used to big fights. I am not surprised what happened.''
Mayweather had claimed all along that Gatti's skills were suspect and that he was little more than a club fighter who had enough talent to beat other club fighters.
He was kinder afterward, calling Gatti a great fighter who showed heart.
''He's a tough fighter,'' Mayweather said. ''Tonight I was the better man.''
Gatti didn't have nearly the talent to match Mayweather.
Mayweather was so dominant that ringside statistics showed him landing 168 punches to only 41 for Gatti.
''He's fast, very fast,'' Gatti said. ''I think I did very good for six rounds but I took too many shots to the head.''
Gatti didn't help his own cause when he got knocked down in a bizarre sequence late in the first round while looking at referee Earl Morton to complain about being hit on the break. When Gatti turned his head and dropped his hands, Mayweather hit him with a left hook, knocking Gatti into the ropes and forcing an eight-count.
''You're supposed to protect yourself at all times,'' Mayweather said. ''The ref let me fight.''
Mayweather not only outboxed Gatti, but he outslugged the slugger whose brawls in this casino city had made him somewhat of a cult hero. Gatti took punishment to the head almost every time he tried to press the fight, often taking three or four hard punches to the head before he could get out of the way.
By the end of the third round, the crowd of 12,675 who paid a gate of some $5 million had quieted. Mayweather made sure of that by not letting Gatti into the fight.
''I know a lot of fighters play to the crowd,'' Mayweather said. ''What I did was I said 'I'm going to stay focused, block everybody out and imagine it's just me and him in there.'''
Between rounds, McGirt was imploring his fighter to try and do something to turn the tide.
''Go out there and fight like I know you can fight,'' McGirt told Gatti.
Gatti tried his best to do just that, but Mayweather made him pay every time he threw a punch. Gatti never went down, but took so much punishment that there were times the referee appeared to be looking to see if the fight might be stopped.
Gatti earned his biggest payday, some $3 million, but it was money hard earned as Mayweather sought to make a statement in a division loaded with attractive fights. It was Mayweather's first pay-per-view fight, and he vowed to look good to set himself up for lucrative future fights.
Mayweather played the villain to the hilt, entering the arena held aloft on a throne carried by four men dressed as Roman gladiators. He then set the tone of the fight early, landing hard counter punches from the opening bell on while making Gatti miss far more punches than he attempted to land.
It was the biggest non-heavyweight fight ever in this casino city. The packed house was hoping they could see Gatti pull an upset win over a former two-time champion at 130 and 135 pounds.
Gatti (39-7) not only couldn't, but the lopsided loss cost him the WBC title he defended twice before.
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