The CBZ Newswire

Tom Donelson: Thoughts on Arturo Gatti

by on Jul.14, 2009, under CBZ Columnists

The late Arturo Gatti with Cestus Management's Mike Michael (photo courtesy of Gina Cestus Iacovou and Cestus Management)

The late Arturo Gatti with Cestus Management's Mike Michael (photo courtesy of Gina Cestus Iacovou and Cestus Management)

Arturo Gatti was murdered at the age of 37 but Gatti left a legacy of being one of boxing more exciting warriors.  One thing about a Gatti fight any boxing fan knew and expected; thrills.   Whether he won or lost, blood flowed; much of it Gatti’s. His trilogy with Mickey Ward was one of boxing most exciting and provided some of the stirring moments in the past decade for boxing fans. 
 
The first Ward fight showed boxing at its best and most brutal.  Both men literally went toe to toe with Ward capturing a majority decision and who could ever forget the ninth round in which Gatti was literally out on his feet but he found a way to survive into the tenth.   


I remember a boxing pundit friend of mine who considered Gatti a club fighter but he was wrong; Gatti was a good fighter with titles in two weight classes and when you add 31 knockouts in 40 victories; he had power in his hands.   Gatti was a good fighter but not a great fighter.  He was good enough to win pieces of titles but when he fought the elite fighter in his area like Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, he got slaughtered. 
 
Gatti’s sin was that he just a good fighter but not a great fighter, but he knew the value of entertainment.   When Gatti went into the ring, he never left anything behind.  And Gatti was a better boxer than many people gave him credit for but he simply love to brawl.

In the first fight with Mickey Ward, Gatti quit boxing and simply went to war in one of the most brutal fights of the decade.  Ward, whose forte was the left hook to the side, loved it when Gatti threw away all of his advantages and simply stood toe to toe.  It cost Gatti a victory, but Gatti did learn as he boxed more in the next two fights to pull out unanimous victories. While Gatti-Ward II and III had their moments of suspense, these two fights never match the intensity of the first fight. 
 
Gatti never beat the best of his generation, but he did beat a collection of good fighters such as Leonard Dorin, Jesse James Leija, Thomas Damgaard, Gianluca Branco and Joe Hutchinson; three of these fighters were undefeated when they faced Gatti. 
 
Boxers like Gatti are often lost in pages of boxing history, but these are the fighters who make the sport — fighters who thrill fans while selling out arenas.  When Gatti fought Mayweather, it was Gatti who produced the fans, not the more skilled Mayweather.  Like Mickey Ward, who filled out arenas in New England, Gatti filled them in Atlantic City,  for fans knew when these guys fought, it meant action.
 
A historian once told me that history is made by the little guy who often never makes the pages but whose bodies provided the fodder for greater men’s ambition.  Gatti is one of the many boxers that provided the excitement and opposition for greater fighters to apply their craft.  The night that Gatti fought Mayweather, Mayweather used the undermanned Gatti as a prop for his skills.  But without Gatti, how would we ever know how great Mayweather really was? 
 
Gatti provided the context for other to draw from.  No, he wasn’t great or even a hall of fame fighter, but he did retire winning over 80 percent of his fights.  And there are many fans who was always ask, “Where you there when Gatti fought Ward at Mohegan Sun Casino?”

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