December 27th, 2005 15:16 EST
Todd Wood interviews Arturo Gatti for the American Perspective Radio Program
He has been coined the human highlight film. "
He participated in the Fight of the Year " for three consecutive years: 1996-1998.
His three epic bouts against Micky Ward are recognized as one of the greatest trilogies in boxing history.
And although his nickname is Thunder, " Arturo Gatti has risen from the ashes on so many occasions that it would be more appropriate to designate him The Phoenix. "
Gatti was born in Italy and raised in Montreal, Canada, but he has lived in Jersey City, NJ since 1991. He speaks four languages "English, French, Spanish and Italian "and began boxing at the age of eight.
He turned pro on June 10, 1991, scoring a third-round TKO over Jose Gonzalez. He then went on to win his next five straight--four inside the distance. After suffering a minor setback to King Solomon in November 1992 (L 6), Gatti won his next 23 bouts--19 by KO--with 10 of those coming in the first-round and just six extending past the third-round.
On June 28, 1994, he won his first professional title, the USBA jr. lightweight crown, by crushing defending champion Pete Taliaferro in one round at The Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus, NJ (TKO 1). Seven bouts later he challenged for his first world title.
On December 15, 1995, in front of 16,000 rabid fans at Madison Square Garden in New York, Gatti floored defending IBF jr. lightweight champion Tracy Patterson once in the second-round with a crisp right-uppercut on his way to capturing a unanimous decision and the IBF title (W 12).
Gatti returned to the Mecca of Boxing " on March 23, 1996, to defend his title for the first time against Wilson Rodriguez. It`s doubtful that any of the nearly 5,000 spectators expected to witness one of the greatest fights ever; yet, that is exactly what they saw.
The fight began precariously for Gatti as Rodriguez`s stiff left jab and stinging right cross swelled Gatti`s eyes immediately in round one. Round two was even worse for the champ as he was knocked to the canvas.
While cutman Joe Souza miraculously kept Gatti`s eyes open, Gatti continued his game plan of punishing Rodriguez`s body. With each ferocious body punch Rodriguez`s hands lowered further to protect his midsection. In the fifth-round, Gatti drilled the Spaniard with a left hook that broke a rib and sent the challenger to the canvas. In the sixth-round, Rodriguez desperately attempted to protect his injured rib and by doing so left his chin open to the left hook that ended one of the greatest fights, and comebacks, in boxing history. So impressive was Gatti`s performance that the bout was selected as 1996`s "Fight of the Year."
On February 22, 1997, Gatti decisioned Patterson in their rematch for his second IBF title defense (W 12).
Two bouts later on October 4, 1997, Gatti sent boxing fans at Atlantic City`s Convention Hall into a frenzy when he drilled former world champion Gabriel Ruelas with a devastating combination in round five to successfully defend his crown for the third time.
Gatti and Ruelas traded bombs for the first three rounds of their junior lightweight championship bout. Suddenly, in round four, Ruelas landed a vicious left uppercut that rocked Gatti, leaving him dazed and in danger of collapsing. Somehow, after absorbing 17 straight unanswered punches, Gatti managed to remain on his feet and fire back a combination at the bell.
Round five began disastrously for Gatti. Drilled again by several uppercuts, Arturo`s demise appeared imminent. Valiantly, he pulled the trigger on his patented left hook, landing it flush on the chin of Ruelas. Ruelas crashed to the canvas, rose at the count of six, but was unable to continue (TKO 5). Arturo had once again escaped the jaws of death. The bout was selected as 1997`s Fight of the Year. "
Following the Ruelas bout Gatti relinquished his crown and moved up to the lightweight division.
After losing to Angel Manfredy on January 17, 1998, thanks to a severe cut sustained in the first round (TKOby 8), Gatti fought a memorable battle against Ivan Robinson.
On August 22, 1998, Gatti and Robinson furiously traded punches from the opening bell in a bout that won 1998 Fight of the Year " honors. Gatti relentlessly pursued Robinson, but was unable to equal Robinson`s 50% connect ratio. The Jersey City, NJ hero nearly pulled off another miracle comeback in round 10 when with less than 45 seconds to go in the fight he rocked Robinson with a right hook and sent him reeling across the ring. Unfortunately, Gatti was unable to finish-off Robinson before the bell sounded ending the epic war (L 10).
Gatti lost another 10 round decision to Robinson on December 12, 1998, but then rebounded to defeat his next four opponents and earn a showdown against one of boxing`s best pound-for-pound fighters, Oscar de la Hoya.
On March 24, 2001, Gatti again proved why he is boxing`s most exciting fighter as he traded bombs with Oscar de la Hoya for five rounds before his corner ended the bout by throwing in the towel at the 1:16 mark of round five (TKOby 5). Gatti ripped de la Hoya with left hooks and overhand rights, but was unable to overcome the bigger, stronger former WBC welterweight champion. A wide gash opened under Gatti`s right eye in the first round, which later required 13 stitches to close.
He returned to the ring on Saturday, January 26, 2002, in the Theater at Madison Square Garden and launched himself into jr. welterweight world title contention by pummeling former IBF jr. welterweight champion Terronn Millett in four rounds (TKO 4). Under the tutelage of new trainer James Buddy " McGirt, Gatti boxed beautifully, flooring Millett once in round three and twice in round four to earn the stoppage. The official time was 2:23 of round four.
On May 18, 2002, Gatti lost a controversial majority decision to Micky Ward in a bout that is a virtual lock to receive 2002`s Fight of the Year " honors and will be remembered as one of the greatest fights ever broadcast in television history (L 10). The two fighters staged their own Rocky " movie, trading thunderous blows from the opening bell. So overcome with excitement was HBO commentator Emmanuel Steward following round nine that he declared it the Round of the Century ". Although the judges scored the bout in favor of Ward, of the eight members of the press polled at ringside following the bout, seven selected Gatti as the winner. Boston Herald boxing writer George Kimball best summarized the excitement of ringside spectators: The promoters who advertised it as the "Fight of the Year` may have understated the case. . . . The bravery and resilience of both fighters left the 6,254 in attendance both thrilled and mesmerized. "
On November 23, 2002, Gatti dominated Micky Ward to capture a definitive unanimous decision victory in the highly-anticipated rematch. In round three Gatti launched one of the greatest right hands I`ve ever thrown. " The punch deflected off Ward`s shoulder before crashing against his head, sending him to his knees, face-first into the turnbuckle. Somehow, in a superhuman display of courage, Ward managed to survive the round and continue to battle until the final bell. However, Gatti`s superior boxing skills governed the evening as the Jersey City, NJ fan-favorite stung Ward repeatedly with stiff left jabs and thunderous body punches, and slipped Ward`s lethal left hooks with excellent head movement and lateral movement.
On June 7, 2003, Gatti and Ward completed their legendary trilogy, trading blows for 10 rounds in a bout that is already a favorite to earn 2003 Fight of the Year " honors. Despite breaking his hand in round four and having to climb off the canvas in round six, Gatti out-worked Ward to earn a unanimous decision victory (W 10). Following the bout the gentleman warrior Ward was gracious in defeat, acknowledging that Gatti deserved the victory: He [Gatti] hit me with some shots early that took the steam out of me. " Ringside media gushed with praise for both fighters:
It wasn`t a trilogy. It was a thrillogy. " Lenn Robbins, New York Post
It seemed right that it ended this way: both fighters on their feet in the 30th round of their personal war, bleeding and swinging wildly, with fractured hands, then waiting for the winner to be named and the pain to disappear. "
Geoffrey Gray, New York Times
In a fitting climax to their personal rivalry, the junior welterweights battled for 10 more grueling rounds Saturday night, with Gatti winning a unanimous decision in the rubber match. "
John Curran, Associated Press
It`s almost hard to imagine that Gatti-Ward III could live up to all the expectations heaped upon it after the first two memorable bouts, but it did. "
Dan Rafael, USA Today
On January 24, 2004, over 11,000 fans jammed Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ to watch Gatti capture his second world title when he decisioned WBC #1 ranked contender Gianluca Branco by the scores of 116-111, 115-112, 116-111 (W 12). Boxing`s most exciting fighter sealed the WBC super lightweight crown in round 10 when he dropped Branco with a devastating left hook to the chin. The bout was broadcast on HBO`s World Championship Boxing " series.
Gatti successfully defended the WBC super welterweight crown on July 24, 2004, with a second round stoppage of Leonard Dorin (KO 2). With just seconds remaining in round two, Gatti landed a crippling left hook to the body that sent Dorin to the canvas where he was counted out by referee Randy Neumann.
On January 29, 2005, Gatti knocked out former world champion Jesse James Leija (KO 5). Midway through round five Gatti dropped Leija with an overhand right that landed on the point of Leija`s chin. Leija rose to his feet and courageously traded with Gatti, but only to be dropped a second and final time by a left hook above the ear. He was counted out at the 1:48 mark of round five. Gatti`s impressive performance was best summed-up by New York Post columnist George Willis: It was a perfect exhibition of what Gatti has become of late: a puncher who can box. "
In his last bout on June 25, 2005, Gatti was stopped in six rounds by boxing`s best pound-for-pound fighter, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (TKO 6). Following the completion of the sixth round Gatti trainer James "Buddy " McGirt instructed referee Earl Morton to halt the bout.
All information and photos obtained from www.arturogatti.com