Boxing - Gatti vs. Gomez

arturo gatti(Arturo Gatti, on left, absorbing a right hand from Floyd Mayweather Jr.) 30.04.07 - By Ted Sares: I hate it when two of my favorites fight each other and that’s just what’s going to happen later this summer when fading Arturo Gatti meets up-and-coming Alfonso Gomez. My heart says “Gatti” but my brain is telling me something else. Let’s take a closer look.

Gomez: Alfonso Gomez, 16-3 -2 with 7 ko's had an impressive 80-10 amateur record. He went professional in 2001 and fought Ishe Smith in just his second fight and then met tough Jesse Feliciano in his fourth. In his 6th, he fought Dumont Welliver, 12-1-1 coming in, then Michael Santos, 6-0, Feliciano again (who was 8-1 at the time), and Juan Carlos Amezcua, 9-0. Finally, he got somewhat of a breather when he fought Antonio Garcia who was 14-16. After a few more fights, he ended Peter Manfredo Jr's unbeaten record of 21-0. He later added tough Jesse Brinkley, 25-2, and mismatched Martin Conception to his list of victims.

On May 4, he fought long time rival Jesse Feliciano for the third time in a brutal eight round battle that was declared a draw. This was the same Jesse who recently beat Delvin Rodriguez in a great come-from-behind thriller at Foxwoods

In my view, Gomez has an “old school” willingness to fight other tough fighters multiple times; moreover, there is no padding in his record.

Style: Gomez is an orthodox fighter who blends Mexican macho with American technique. While he is not ready to drink blood and spit out nails like Chavez, Barrera or Marquez, the potential is there. His all-action style is very crowd pleasing with head feints, leg movement, combos and other moves that are old school. He sometimes throws one shot at a time, but when he puts punches together in combos and uses his vaunted left hook, he is very effective. He does seem to tire a bit in the mid-rounds and this can allow his opponents back into a fight. He needs to become a better closer. All in all, he is a progressive work in progress (redundancy intended).

When he called out Peter Manfredo in the first contender series, viewers were pleasantly surprised by his guts. Heck that was something Gatti would do. When he whipped him, viewers were shocked.

Gatti, 40-8 with 31 ko's, is a warrior with a warrior’s style period. In two of his last three fights, he has taken beat-downs by Mayweather and Carlos Manuel Baldomir. What effect these one-sided defeats will have remains to be seen, but my thinking is that if many of his fans are asking him to retire now, why are those same fans saying that he will beat Gomez?

The question remains what Gatti will show up? The one that looked done against Angel Manfredy as far back as 1998; the one that shocked Leonard Dorin in 2004; or the one that got savaged by Baldomir last year? Arturo’s wins in recent years have come against tough Thomas Damgaard, used-up Jesse James Leija, questionable Gianluca Branco, and two historic wins against Micky Ward in their brutal trilogy. Prior to these fights, he participated in wars against Ivan Robinson (twice) and Gabriel Ruelas and was beaten up by Oscar De La Hoya. However, he has arguably preserved his body by winning a number of bouts by early ko (Taliaferro, Tovar, Vergara, Munoz, Gamache, Millett and the aforementioned Dorin among others). But at some point it all has to catch up to him. Maybe it did against Baldomir.

Style: Gatti has been one of boxing’s most exciting fighters, engaging in one fight of the year candidate after another. Indeed, he has participated in Ring Magazine’s “Fight of the Year” in 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2003. He can box and move when he wants to and can engage in a slug fest with the very best. His instinctive propensity to rumble often gets the best of him but who can argue with success?

There is a report that "Irish" Micky Ward is set to replace Buddy McGirt as Arturo Gatti's trainer. If true, I don’t see this necessarily as a plus for Arturo as the emphasis may not be where Gatti needs it to be; namely, to combine appropriate technique with brawling.

The outcome: This will not be popular with the posters, but since Ward, Gatti has taken even more punishment and I sense it will all catch up to him after 3 or 4 rounds as long as Gomez stays away from his left hook which is still fast and lethal. I see the bigger Gomez (height 5' 9) trapping Gatti (height 5' 7½ ) in the mid to late rounds with a savage combo that will pin him against the ropes. He will then alternate wicked hooks to the body and heavy crosses to Gatti's jaw finally snapping Arturo‘s head and neck back. Gatti will become helpless and in a life threatening mode at which point the referee, perhaps Eddie Cotton, will have no alternative but to halt the onslaught as Sugar Ray leaps into the ring and hugs the new Macho Man from Tustin.

However, if Gomez makes the mistake of engaging in a brawl too early, he will play into Thunder’s hands and risk a fight-ending counter left hook. He must remain focused and avoid the temptation. Gatti has been there before and knows what to do. He also will be motivated by pouring some cement on his already awesome legacy with a final win. And, of course, the last thing to go is a puncher power…

We just might have in this fight the stuff of which screen plays are made. Old vs. young. Idol vs. contender. Mexico/American vs. Italy/Canadian. Old rival in veteran’s corner vs. father in the other corner. “Mr. Excitement” vs. a crowd pleaser. Retirement fight vs. great opportunity. Wow!

Article posted on 01.05.2007

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