Arturo Gatti - The “Thunder” Before The Storm

27.06.06 - By Mike Casile: I will never forget the first time I met Arturo “Thunder” Gatti. It was 1991 and an unusually humid night in Philadelphia’s legendary Blue Horizon. My seat had at least three good legs, and my beer was cold enough to keep some of the early June heat off me. The USA NETWORK was covering the fight, for its weekly boxing show “Tuesday Night Fights," and I had heard some rumblings about a kid from Canada that was tearing through the amateur circuit up there, and that he fought in a style that resembled Jake La Motta and Carmine Basillio..

I watched as this young fighter entered the ring. There was no fanfare, there was barely an announcement, but you could see that he carried himself with a controlled underlying confidence. To me, he didn't look like a kid making his pro debut. I cannot tell you who he fought that night, I can, however, tell you, he proceeded to knock him out in a Pennsylvania record, 19 seconds. It was a brutal 19 seconds.

At the start of the first round, Gatti attacked immediately, with no real regard for defense, as he walked through a few punches right on the chin, and proceeded to maul and destroy his opponent. There was an eerie silence, then a roar from the crowd. I got to talk to him briefly after the fight, and by all accounts, he seemed like a nice, well, adjusted young guy, but when I began to discuss boxing, his smiled shifted, and he was all business. His next fight in Newark, New Jersey, was an equally impressive knockout in 28 seconds.

Since that night in Philadelphia, he has become a fan favorite, not for breaking records, but for being willing to step up, and no matter what, give it everything, even if that means losing. His battle’s With Micky Ward were classic, which kept old fight fans, with memories of Jake La Motta/Irish Bob Murphy, glued to their seats, and made a whole new generation of fight fans yelling for more. It was not about who won, but about the journey itself. He won Ring Magazine’s fight of the year in 1997 (W KO5 Gabriel Ruelas), 1998 (L 10 Ivan Robinson), 2002 (L 10 Micky Ward), 2003 (W 10 Micky Ward), and knockout of the year in 1997 (W KO5 Gabriel Ruelas). On July 22nd, inside Boardwalk Hall, Gatti is attempting to capture his third world title. He is fighting a naturally bigger man in Carlos Baldomir, who recently unseated Zab Judah in the welterweight division. Gatti has had trouble with bigger guys before, so this fight should be interesting. The home crowd in Boardwalk Hall will be ready for the thunder. The question is, will Carlos Baldomir, weather the storm.

Article posted on 27.06.2006

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