(A personal blog I wrote shortly after the death of Arturo Gatti in July 2009)
Exactly one week ago the sad sad news that Arturo Gatti has died filtered through the media. I shall write this article in memory of one of the most exciting fighters to compete in the “sweet science” that is boxing.
He, his wife and one year old son were on holiday in Brazil when he was found dead in the apartment he and his wife had been renting. The main suspect is his wife, Ms Rodrigues, who may have been the one to strangle him in his sleep. However I do not want to dwell on this and instead commemorate his glittering boxing career and his life.
Arturo “Thunder” Gatti was born in Italy on April 15th 1972 before moving to Montreal where he grew up. He then relocated again to New Jersey where he started his pursuit of becoming a professional boxer. By the time he retired he had a reputation of being one of the most exciting fighters to ever live. His hard work and determination was second to none and he had an impeccable ability to come back after being rocked to win fights.
Gatti was meant to represent Canada in the 1992 Olympics in before deciding to move up to the professional stakes at the age of 19 in the summer of 1991 and in 1995 he got a shot at challenging the IBF World Super Featherweight Champion Tracey Patterson. Gatti narrowly got the unanimous decision and became a world champion at only 23 years of age.
His last super featherweight title defence came against Gabriel Ruelas. In the fourth round Gatti received more than 15 unanswered punches before being saved by the bell. In the next round Gatti connected with a left hook to knock Ruelas out. This is just a testament to his determination and his ability to come back at a fighter who may think they have the upper hand. This fight was named 1997’s “fight of the year” according to Ring Magazine. This was just one of four fights he participated in that achieved that award which again goes to show his ability to entertain boxing fans.
However it was at welterweight where Gatti made his name unforgettable in boxing history. His trilogy with Mickey Ward was the most electrifying, entertaining and downright amazing trio of fights I have ever witnessed. Yes I am aware that the Ali/Frazier trio is said to be the greatest of all time but I have yet to see it so as far as I’m concerned Gatti/Ward IS the best boxing trilogy of all time. It was blow for blow throughout these three fights. They won one each of the first two fights by split decision. Ward won the first and Gatti won the second. The first fight gave Gatti his third “fight of the year” award. In 2002 they had the rubber match which was just epic as far as I’m concerned. Gatti broke his right hand for the third time in his life after an uppercut to the hip in the fourth round. Wincing from the pain he suffered he fought predomninantly left handed. In the sixth round Gatti dominated till the end were he got caught and knocked down. He again showed his ability to recover and went on to win the match on points. This trio of fights (especially the third) turned Arturo Gatti into one of my favourite boxers.
After Ward he won the WBC title before eventually losing to Floyd Mayweather. But where’s the shame in that? Mayweather went on to dominate the division as Gatti slowly declined from the spotlight as he grew older. His last fight at the age of 35 was against Alfonso Gomez in which he was knocked out in the seventh. After the fight he said “I’ll be back….as a spectator”.
He retired with a record of 40-9 (31 KO’s). But more than that he retired with a place in many boxing fans’ hearts due to his desire to win, his forever trying spirit, his gut and determination. More importantly though, his ability to entertain audiences with truly spectacular fights.
Rest in Peace Arturo Gatti
By Hassan Ahmed