Remembering the Ultimate Blood and Guts Warrior
Arturo “Thunder” Gatti was a Canadian professional boxer. Born in Italy, Gatti was an elite fighter who captured the praise of many fans. With the heart of a lion, Gatti battled his way through a professional career spanning 16 years. Arturo Gatti finally announced his retirement on July 14, 2007, and was found dead in his apartment in Brazil on July 11, 2009.
Arturo Gatti Professional Career
In 1992 Arturo Gatti was on his way to represent the Canadian National team in the 1992 summer games. However, at the age of 19 he decided to turn pro instead. His first professional fight was the night of June 10, 1991. He fought Jose Gonzalez and defeated him by a third round knockout. Gatti then went undefeated for six bouts before losing by a six round split decision to King Solomon in 1992. In March of 1993, Gatti traveled to Amsterdam and knocked out Plawen Goutchev in the first round.
In 1994, Gatti stepped up his quality in opposition. Gatti beat Leon Bostic on points, followed by a win against Pete Taliaferro to win a fringe super featherweight title. Gatti then went on to defend that title twice against Richard Salazar and Jose Sanabria.
On December 15, 1995, Arturo Gatti challenged IBF title holder Tracy Harris Patterson. Gatti became a world champion when he narrowly outpointed Tracy Patterson by unanimous decision. The victory in this fight enabled Arturo Gatti to sign a multi-fight deal with HBO. Gatti stepped back into the ring twice during 1996. His first title defense was against Wilson Rodriguez at Madison Square Garden. Gatti seemed to be off to a bad start with Wilson Rodriguez knocking Gatti down in round two. Gatti managed to escalate the fight as his right eye was nearly closed. Arturo Gatti dropped Rodriguez in round five with a left hook to the body before finishing him off in round six. Arturo retained his title and fished for bigger game.
In 1997 Arturo again faced Tracy Patterson and was able to win by unanimous decision a second time. Gatti then scored a technical knockout against former world champion Calvin Grove in round seven of a non-title bout. Then came his defense against Gabriel Ruelas which was named “fight of the year” by Ring Magazine. Ruelas rocked Gatti with a left uppercut, and Arturo absorbed more than 15 consecutive punches before being saved by the bell. Gatti managed to regain his legs and pummeled Ruelas with a left hook that left him on the canvas. It was the end to a great run at the super featherweight ranks.
Arturo Gatti relinquished the Super Featherweight world title to catch bigger fish in the Lightweight division. However, 1998 was a bad year for Arturo Gatti; he lost all three fights that year. Gatti lost by a technical knockout in round eight to Angel Manfredy, and then was defeated by Ivan Robinson via a pair of close 10 round decisions. In 1999 Arturo Gatti only had one fight against Reyes Munoz. He was able to knockout Munoz in round one.
Junior Welterweight and Welterweight divisions
After two successful fights at Junior Welterweight against Eric Jakubowski and Joe Hutchinson, Arturo Gatti met Future Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya. Gatti Jumped up to Welterweight to face De La Hoya on March 24, 2001. Gatti was knocked down by a De La Hoya flurry in round one. Unable to take control, Gatti’s corner threw in the towel in round five. With Arturo Gatti still determined, he then returned to the Junior Welterweight division to face former world champion Terron Millett. Gatti won the fight by a knockout in round four.
Ward vs. Gatti Trilogy
Arturo Gatti stepped into the ring against Micky ward on May 18, 2002. In a very close match, both fighters pursued each other, with Ward knocking down Gatti in the ninth round. As the fight progressed, both fighters exchanged several brutal combinations, with Ward winning the majority decision. This match was named “Fight of the Year” by Ring Magazine.
In their second match on November 23, 2002, Arturo Gatti managed to control the fight and knock Ward down in the third round. Micky Ward was able to regain his composure but to no avail. Gatti went on to dominate the fight beating Ward to the punch landing several combinations. Ward was unable to adjust, and Arturo Gatti won the fight by unanimous decision.
On June 7, 2003 Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward fought in a rubber match in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Gatti broke his twice repaired right hand on an uppercut to the hip of Ward. Gatti then went on to essentially fight one-handed for several rounds, using his right sparingly. In the sixth round Gatti dominated the round; but got caught with an overhand right to the top of the head a second before the bell rang. Gatti managed to recover, and dominated the rest of the fight. This stellar performance between the two fighters earned “Fight of the Year” by ring magazine.
The Gatti vs. Ward trilogy is one of the most memorable and action packed in the history of boxing, and cemented Gatti’s status as the “ultimate blood and guts warrior.”
Career after Micky Ward
In January of 2004, Gatti recovered from another broken hand, and scored a twelve round unanimous decision against Gianluca Branco to win the vacant WBC Junior Welterweight title. Arturo Gatti then faced Leonard Dorin for his first title defense in July of 2004. Gatti managed to drop Dorin with a single body shot earning the second round knockout.
In Arturo Gatti’s next match he faced former Super Featherweight and Lightweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. in June 25, 2005. Gatti was dominated throughout the contest, getting beaten to the punch and battered to the body and head before his corner threw in the towel after round six. After the Mayweather loss Gatti bounced back up to Welterweight to face Thomas Damgaard in January of 2006. Gatti won the fight via an eleventh round technical knockout and captured the vacant IBA Welterweight title.
On July 22, 2006 Arturo Gatti was knocked out by Carlos Baldomir fighting for the world Welterweight title. Gatti then ditched famed trainer Buddy McGirt and hired Micky Ward to step in. Arturo Gatti attempted a comeback in July of 2007, but fell short. He fought against Alfonso Gomez, only to get knocked out in seven rounds. Gatti announced his retirement in the dressing room after the fight. Arturo Gatti retired with a record of 40 Wins and 9 losses, with 31 wins by knockout.
Arturo Gatti’s Death
On July 11, 2009, Gatti was found murdered in a hotel in Ipojuca, Pemambuco, Brazil. Arturo Gatti and his wife Amanda Rodrigues were on a second honeymoon with their 1 year old son. Arturo Gatti’s widow has been charged with first degree murder after the strap of her purse, used to strangle Gatti, was found stained with blood. Amanda Rodrigues could not explain how she spent more than ten hours in the hotel room without realizing Gatti was dead. Former boxing champion Acelino Freitas, who was a very close friend of Gatti; claimed that Gatti and Rodrigues were having problems and were thinking about splitting up.
Arturo Gatti’s Legacy
Arturo Gatti has left us with a plethora of memorable fights to cherish for all times. He was a true warrior. What he lacked in speed and power was enabled by heart and pure guts. This is no exaggeration to such a great and memorable fighter like that of Arturo “Thunder” Gatti (April 15, 1972 – July 11, 2009). You will be greatly missed.