Boxing

Carlos Baldomir - Arturo Gatti: Thunder Fades In The Distance

23.07.06 - By Wray Edwards: Like a force of nature, Arturo Gatti came over the boxing horizon in earnest as he captured the IBF Super Featherweight Title from Tracy Patterson on December 15th 1995. The young Canadian had traveled across the river from his New Jersey second home to the crown jewel of Boxing - Madison Square Garden. There, he brought his stormy style onto the national scene..

Then, after a couple more bites from the Big Apple, it was back to Atlantic City to thrill a growing throng of fanatical admirers. Fight after fight, the “B” fighter with the A+ heart endeared himself to the rowdy crowds from the rough streets of Hoboken and Union City to the brick canyons of Newark. He was the perfect blue collar Hero for these enthusiastic, brawl-loving groupies. Last night the WBC Welterweight Champion, Carlos Baldomir, used his stronger, older body to introduce Arturo to his ultimate destiny, and that which all fighters must one day face.

Gatti’s Argentinian instructor last night also hails from a second home…it’s on the left coast – Los Angeles. In fact their roots from the streets, to the gym, to the U.S. were similar. There was, however, one important difference. Gatti had, during his professional career, moved up through the weight classes from featherweight to welterweight. Carlos, on the other hand, has always fought at or near welterweight. Thus we had a newcomer to the division attempting to take on a well-established welterweight fighter who had recently stunned many by defeating the rowdy Zab Judah.

Still, Carlos was a slight underdog until the first round of the fight when it became clear that he might have quite a lot to say about that. Round One was typical of the first six, with Gatti attempting to box, as he had been trained to do against Branco, and likewise was instructed by Buddy McGirt to repeat versus Carlos. Baldomir would have none of that and bulled forward at every opportunity.

Even though Gatti was reported to be faster and supposedly enjoyed a three inch reach advantage, he seemed to have trouble getting to Baldo at boxing range, and as Carlos closed in each time Arturo was tempted to brawl. Gatti looked positively willowy next to the thicker Baldomir. Arturo’s best punches kept motivating Carlos to walk through them and deliver endless rights. There was a minor head clash in this frame.

I gave Round Two to Gotti as he seemed the more effective. Round Three ended with a real slug-fest, and as the bell rang Gatti was a bit wobbly as he steadied himself by a left hand on the ropes as he headed for his corner. During Round four a small abrasive cut opened under Gatti’s right eye. No biggie.

At 1:30 of the Fifth Round Carlos bombs Arturo around the ring and traps him in the corner…Gatti is in real trouble. First real hurt to Gatti from Baldo shots and he’s pretty chopped up through the rest of the round. Gatti actually briefly staggered Carlos a bit in this one.

At 2:16 of the sixth Baldo leans way to his left and throws an “underhand” left at Arturo’s right hip as Gatti leans to his right, his right elbow is partially trapped by the blow. Gatti straightens up, looks at his left forearm and holds it with his left glove Carlos charges in while Gatti is distracted by something that has happened to his arm. Gatti backs up and holds his right arm up as if trying to get it working again.

Perhaps a nerve pinch (post fight they did not ask him about it). At this point Ref Wayne Hedgepeth is rushing to get between the fighters, and trying to restrain Carlos with the back of his right hand (it appears that he thinks Gatti is injured and wants to check it out). Gatti is standing in an awkward position with his right hand up and his left at his side. Carlos charges past the ref’s right arm, and lunges a vicious right cross to Gatti’s chin, which rotates Arturo’s head to the right.

Arturo gets fired up about this and tries to attack Carlos with a lunging left as the ref is still trying to get between them. Gatti cocks another left and almost blasts Wayne with it.

During much of the Sixth and mostly through the Seventh Round Baldomir seemed to back off quite a bit and began to wait for Arturo to come in. When Gatti did Carlos would counter, and pretty much thrash Gatti’s defenses around while getting in scary power shots. At 0:09 of the Eighth Carlos makes a really low blow with his left, and as Gatti walks away Baldomir follows him to apologize before the Ref responds…if he saw it at all. Carlos and Arturo maintained a professional and sportsman-like attitude throughout the bout…to the point that Larry complained.

At 2:40 of the Ninth round Baldo catches Gatti with big right at which point Gatti, for some reason, begins to bounce up and down on the second strand with his butt. At 1:19 Arturo misses with a sweeping left which leaves that glove at waste level as he falls forward, off-balance. As he straightens up, he leans into a strong Baldo right which stuns him, and as he tries to fight back, Carlos traps Arturo against the ropes and delivers an absolute flurry of lefts and rights

At 1:04, with Gatti still against the ropes, a Baldomir overhand right is arcing down toward the left side of Arturo’s head. Just before Carlos’ glove makes contact, Gatti intentionally spits out his mouthpiece. Was he thinking of Corrales when he did that. Wayne Does nothing about it. He then sits down on the second strand again trying to avoid Carlos’ attack. I watch the blow five or six times in slo-mo, and Gatti definitely purses his lips and is spitting out his piece just before the punch connects.

At 0:36 Baldo catches Gatti with a stinging left hook. Gatti’s own left lashes by out of control as he falls to his right face-first to the canvass. He gets up, pleads his case and is allowed to continue 0:18. Again against the ropes Arturo is pummeled by Carlos who catches Gatti with a left to the right temple at 0:13 (unlucky for Arturo) and Gatti goes down on his back with his feet in the air (a la Hawkins v Peter). The ref pulls his mouthpiece and calls the bout.

No one doubts Arturo’s courage. He appears not suited to compete as a welter. In fact he probably should retire. He admitted to that possibility during the post fight interview. The man has been in a lot of wars and still seems to have all his faculties…now’s a good time to take a new road Arturo. Watching him work so hard at Elite in Vero and make so many exciting efforts, has been a pure pleasure…win or lose.

Fernando Vargas didn’t do any better against Shane Mosley last night than he did last week. As I said then, about Fernando Vargas: “Go do something else.” In the course of eight days we have seen, perhaps, the end of two signal boxing careers. It is not arrogant or careless sentiment which prompts us to encourage these brave men to think twice. Everything in life is timing. Age is one consideration, but ability is king in sport. “It’s not bragging if you can do it.” It IS foolishness to continue, if you can’t. See you at the fights.

Article posted on 23.07.2006



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