November 24, 1999
Bruno on Boxing
By Joe Bruno- Former Vice President of the New York Boxing Writers and the
International Boxing Writers
It sure didn't look like Arturo Gatti needed much help in his second
round destruction of Joey Gamache Saturday night at Madison Square Garden,
but the mysterious things that happened at the weigh-in on Friday afternoon
need to be examined before somebody gets hurt real bad.
Since John L. Sullivan ruled the roust in the gay 1890's, weigh-ins
always took place on the day of the fight. But the procedure recently changed
in many states to having the weigh-in the day before the fight, so that a
fighter weakened and dehydrated from making the weight, would have more than
a full day to get his strength back. Sounds good on the face of it, but these
rules allowed Gatti to go from 141 at the Friday afternoon weigh-in to a
whopping 160 when he entered the ring 28 hours later. That is, if he made the
141 contacted weight to begin with, which Gamache's agent/representative
Johnny Bos is absolutely certain did not happen.
"I took Joey to the commission offices on Friday afternoon to get his
license to box in the state," Bos said. "While we were there, I had Joey get
on the commission scale, and he weighed 140 1/4, so I felt we were in good
shape for the real weigh-in at the Garden at 4pm."
But when Bos and Gamache arrived at the Garden early a strange thing
happened. "Joey got on the scale there and he was now 137 1/2. I knew
something was wrong with the scale."
So Bos did some screaming, and after some hemming and hawing by
commissioner Tony Russo, the bad (tampered with?) scale was replaced with a
legit scale. But according to Bos, the shenanigans didn't stop there.
Gamache made 140 1/4, then he stepped down and Gatti got on the scale.
"When Gatti got on the scale, which was set at 141, the arrow shot up and
hit the metal, meaning Gatti was over 141," Bos said. "But Russo immediately
yelled out '141.' Gatti jumped off the scale and drank down a glass of water.
I yelled at Russo but he told me to mind my own business and to stop stirring
things up." Even Gamache's trainer Jimmy Glenn, who is one of the most
mild-mannered men in the seamy sport of boxing started screaming at Russo,
but to no avail.
It just so happened that the same scale, and the same ubiquitous Tony
Russo had done the exact same thing at the Oscar De la Hoya/Darrell Coley
weigh-in just minutes before. Just as Bos and Glenn were protesting Russo's
call, Coley and his manager Leonard Langley started yelling "See, it happened
again." Apparently, De la Hoya was over the contracted weight of 147, but
Russo's eyes saw 147 and his mouth yelled 147, and the law is the law,
especially in the police state of New York City.
During the fights the next night, it was obvious that both De la Hoya and
Gatti had huge weight advantages over their opponents. Gamache had gone up
to 144 by fight time, but Gatti now weighted a booming 160 pounds, giving him
a 16 pound weight and strength advantage. Even De la Hoya, who was now 156
pounds, was a full four pounds lighter then the now- middleweight Gatti.
The fight itself was a total steamroller job. Gatti hurt Gamache with almo
st every punch, knocking Gamache down twice in the first round, before
landing an explosive right-left at the 41 second mark of round two. Gamache
went down hard, the back his head banking down hard on the canvas, creating a
severe whiplash effect. The referee Benje Estaves stopped the fight without
counting, and the ring doctors immediately rushed into the ring to attend to
the badly hurt fighter. Gamache lay there for almost ten minutes, before he
was able to walk off on his own power. The ring doctors had wanted a
stretcher brought in to carry out Gamache, but Gamache told them, "Please let
me walk out on my own." He immediately went to St. Vincent's Hospital for a
Cat Scan, and is still there as of this writing.
Bos said late Sunday night, "Joey's still dizzy and nauseous. I don't
want to be a crybaby, but Gatti's 16 pound weight advantage made him too big
and strong for Joey. We contracted for Joey to fight a junior welterweight,
and he wound up fighting a middleweight instead."
Now both De La Hoya and Gatti are Top Rank and HBO fighters. They were
the house fighters that night, and because of the huge investments HBO and
Top Rank have in them, both were expected to win in impressive fashion. De La
Hoya and Gatti are devastating punchers at any weight, and they certainly
don't need some blind (crooked?) mouse at commission weigh-ins to give them
an unfair advantage over their poor opponents.
Joey Gamache said before the fight he would retire if he lost to Gatti.
Here's hoping that Gamache can enjoy his retirement without walking around on
his heels, throwing punches at thin air after hearing imaginary bells.
"He's okay now, " Bos said about Gamache. "But these kind of things don't
show up for ten, maybe twenty years down the road."
The powers-that-be in boxing should change the rules back to the way it
was before "men of good conscience" decided to play God. Have the fighters
again weigh-in on the day of the fight, not the day before. The next time we
have King Kong fighting Mighty Mouse, the little guy just might get crushed,
and wind up in worse condition than Joey Gamache did Saturday night at
Madison Square Garden. Then you'll really see the cockroaches crawling in and
out of the woodwork, that was once the respectable New York State Athletic