Gatti Will Bring The Thunder Against Gomez

arturo gatti12.07.07 - by Nick Mathur: On Saturday, July 14th, Arturo Gatti will take on Alfonso Gomez at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Gatti, often referred to as “the human highlight reel,” will look to thrill his huge following one more time, as a win against Gomez will likely position him for a fight against one of the many noteworthy names in the talent-rich welterweight division.

Gomez, who will do his best to upset these plans, is a young man who has gained public recognition and a modest level of popularity after appearing on the first season of The Contender.

Gatti has suffered two knockout losses in his last three fights, and has endured an incredible amount of punishment during his career. While many people consider him to be the most exciting fighter of the modern era, there are quite a few who believe that he is not capable of competing at a high level anymore because of the physical toll that the sport has taken on him, and the effect it will likely have on his long-term health.

There were many outspoken critics who strongly petitioned for him to retire after his last fight against Carlos Baldomir, as Arturo was knocked out in the 9th round of a grueling bout that was, for the most part, not even competitive.

While one obviously has to be concerned about the well being of a boxer who has given so much to the sport, I believe that Gatti still has enough left to convincingly defeat Gomez. Gatti is a former title holder, and has demonstrated enough skill over the years to be competitive with some of the better fighters around the weight classes in which he has competed. Even though he has been massacred by the elite fighters he has faced during his career, his achievements and level of opposition obviously dwarf what the younger Gomez has been able to accomplish thus far.

With Kostya Tszyu ruling the junior welterweight division for all of those years, Gatti never had a chance to be “the man” at 140 pounds. However, I believe that the difference in class between Gatti and someone like Gomez is off the charts. In my opinion, Gatti has him beat in every major category: power, skills, speed. And of course, as far as heart is concerned, we have seen Gatti dig deep many times to win fights, even when it seemed like was on the verge of being knocked out. Gomez has yet to have an opportunity to demonstrate that he is capable of displaying anything close to that kind of tenacity and resolve in the ring.

Alfonso Gomez is a good young fighter who seems to be improving with every fight. I have no doubt that he has trained hard and will be able to give a reasonably good account of himself on Saturday. However, I also feel that he is, to some degree, just a Contender hype job. It is evident to me that they were trying to find someone marketable from the show to push as the fan favorite, and settled on Gomez, who seems like a very pleasant guy. However, I have never heard anyone else mention the fact that his personality is sometimes unengaging, almost vapid. Every quote I have heard from him, both on the show and during the build up for this fight, seems generic and contrived. His skills are decent, but leave something to be desired as well. I just can’t understand how Alfonso, could ever become a special fighter from what I have seen.

Maybe I have allowed my judgment to be skewed by the fact that The Contender sucked. It is admirable that Gomez fought to make a better life for himself and his family, but it was a storyline that was oft repeated on the show, and I became numb to it after a while. Who can forget Anthony Bonsante literally being brought to tears at any mention of his wife and kids? In any case, perhaps Gomez deserves more credit than I have given him. He is clearly a good person, and has played a role in attracting more mainstream attention towards the sport.

After taking into account the fact that the activity from Gatti’s rabid Atlantic City fan base has probably shifted the betting lines fairly significantly, the public consensus is that this is a fight that could go either way. Arturo is older now, and has suffered through more swollen eyes, broken ribs, and busted jaws than almost anyone else would be able to endure. I shudder when thinking about what could happen to him if he steps in the ring with a top ten welterweight at this stage of his career. Nevertheless, I think that he still has enough left in the tank to beat younger fighters like Gomez and, incidentally, Chavez Jr., if that matchup ever comes to fruition.

Article posted on 13.07.2007

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