Preview: Arturo Gatti vs Gianluca Branco

19.01.04 - By Marc Abrams: On Saturday January 24th HBO World Championship Boxing will be live from Atlantic City, New Jersey as one of the garden states favorite son’s Arturo Gatti tries to capture a “world title” at 140 pounds as he will take on undefeated but very untested Gianluca Branco from Italy. There also is an exciting undercard highlighted by another Super-Lightweight encounter featuring hot prospect Fransisco”Ponchito”Bojado and the upset minded Emanuel Clottey.

It will seem strange to see Gatti, (36-6; 28 knockouts) looking across the ring and not seeing Mickey Ward. The 2 staged one of the great 3 fight classic encounters in the history of boxing. 30 hard and grueling rounds and non stop action, that just cemented that Gatti is truly the blood and guts warrior of boxing. This will be Gatti’s 1st attempt and a belt at 140 pounds.

He won the IBF Super Featherweight championship in December of 1995 with a unanimous decision victory of the tough Tracy Harris Patterson. He defended the title 3 times including a decision victory over Patterson in the rematch. His last defense was the October 1997 , a 5th round TKO over Gabriel Ruelas in the Ring Magazine fight of the year. He then moved up to lightweight and loss on cuts to rival Angel Manfredy. He lost his next 2 fight to Ivan Robinson in 2 more great wars, The 1st being tabbed at the Ring Magazine Fight of for 1998. He got back on the winning track with a 1 round blowout of Reyes Munoz. After 3 more wins Gatti ventured out to Las Vegas to Fight Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight. Oscar bloodied and battered Arturo all over the ring, Next up was a 4th round TKO of former champ Terron Millett.

The 3 fight series with Ward could have had any 1 of the fights stand on alone on its own. Heck you can take a handful of rounds in each fight and still would be considered tremendous fights. The 1st fight was the best and closest of the 3. A non-stop back and forth war. Ward won a disputed majority decision, that called for the rematch in which Gatti won easily by uninanimous decision.. The rubber match saw Gatti get floored and break his hand in the fight but showed his champions heart and determination by winning a close unanimous decision.

Branco (32-0-1; 15 KO’s) has never fought outside of Europe but somehow is rated the #1 contender by this sanctioning body. The only somewhat recognizable name on his records was a 10th round knockout of Allan Vester The “best thing he may have going is that he is the brother of WBA Light-Heavyweight champ Silvio Branco.

This looks to be a total mismatch both on paper and everywhere else. The recent news of Longtime foe and now close friend Mickey Ward joining Gatti for his ringwalk should give him a little more boost, not that he wouldn’t seem to need any against this particular opponent. I see Gatti havein some fun in there displaying his superior skills both punching and boxing, knocking out Branco in the 1st half of the scheduled 12 rounder, and looking foreword to future fights rumored against Leonard Dorin , Mike Stewart, or Kostya Tszyu, and British sensation Ricky Hatton.

In the Opening bout of the telecast, Fransisco “Ponchito” Bojado takes on the very tough and upset minded Emanuel Clottey, in a battle of Jr.Welterweight’s.

The 20 year old Bojado (14-1; 11KO’s) is living in Los Angeles by way of Guadalajra, Mexico. He is coming off a 12 round uninanimous decision victory over the man who put the only loss on his record, that being Juan Carlos Rubio. The 1st fight with Rubio was the 2002 upset of the year. Since then he is 5-0 including the revenge win of Rubio in a fight in which Bojado dominated where he lost maybe 1 or 2 rounds in the 12 round fight. His trainer is the very charismatic Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Clottey, 29 years old, (21-5;14 KO’s)is a late replacement for the grizzled veteran Jesse James Leija is from Doraville Ga, by way of Ghana. Is on a 3 fight win streak including the shocking upset of 2000 Olympic most outstanding fighter and potential superstar Mohamad Abdulaev. In that fight Clottey was way behind on all cards when he rallied and knockout the stunned Russian welterweight. Since then he won a 12 round decision of the unheralded Jose Santiago last November. Previous to the Abdulaev fight he had lost a decision to prospect Jeffrey Resto. Clottey also suffered decision losses to Ebo Elder and Daryl Tyson, and 25-1, Colin Dunne. His worst performance probably was was a May, 20001 7th round Knockout and the fists of Alex Trujillo.

I believe Bojado was very humbled by the 1st Rubio fight and will not take anyone lightly, especially Clottey who has a lot of confidence recently with his recent upset. Clottey will be there for Bojado to exchange with and that will be fine with the younger fighter here as I believe he has more ammunition then Clottey. Bojado has the added incentive as he is making his 1st HBO appearance and wants to steal the show. I see this being an entertaining fight with Bojado scoring a 9th or 10th Round Knockout.

Article posted on 19.01.2004

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