Arturo Gatti, a fearless fighter who often ignored defensive stances to stand toe-to-toe with his opponents in battles of guts and strength was a true warrior of the ring. Gatti whose brutal style was more suited to the early 1900’s than the modern era, would not be part of this series, had it not been for his untimely death at the age of 37 at a seaside hotel in Porto de Galihnas, Brazil, on July 11, 2009.
Nicknamed “Thunder”, Gatti carried the scars of battle with him. The blows he took resulted in a squashed nose. He also suffered badly from cuts and broken bones throughout his career, and had numerous surgical interventions to repair the damage. His style made him one of the ring’s most exciting and popular figures on American television. On four occasions The Ring magazine chose Gatti’s bouts as its fight of the year.
Born in Italy in 1972, Arturo Gatti was raised in tough circumstances in Montreal, Canada, where he took up boxing. Gatti was a member of the Canadian National boxing team, and was training to represent Canada at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but at age 19 (in 1991), he decided to turn pro instead. He began boxing professionally on the night of November 17, 1992. His defeated his first opponent Jose Gonzales by TKO in round 3 /4. Gattis then won his next 4 fights and tasted his first defeat as a pro on November 1992, losing to King Solomon by a split decision.
His first fight abroad was on March 24, 1993, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Gatti knocked out Plawen Goutchev in round one. In 1994, he beat Leon Bostic, and followed through with a win over Pete Taliaferro to win the USBA super featherweight title, by a knockout in round one. He retained the title against Richard Salazar and former world champion Jose Sanabria.
By 1995 he had built a reputation as a thrilling fighter and moved into the world class, winning the IBF super-featherweight title with a points win over Tracy Harris Patterson at Madison Square Garden. Gatti defeated Patterson with a score: 116–111, 115–112, 114–113, and signed a multi-fight deal with HBO to fight on HBO Boxing.
He only had two fights in 1996, once defending his world title. His title defense, at Madison Square Garden against Dominican Wilson Rodriguez was the first of three Gatti fights in a row to be named a candidate for "fight of the year" by Ring Magazine.
In the first round of a bout with Wilson Rodriguez in March 1996, Gatti’s eyes were badly swollen. In the second round, he was knocked down. But in the fifth round, Gatti knocked down Rodriguez, breaking one of his ribs with a left hook. In the sixth round, Gatti knocked out Rodriguez with another left hook.
In 1997, he again won a points victory over Patterson, but this time by a larger margin (118–108, 117–109, 116–110). He then scored a technical knockout over former world champion Calvin Grove in round seven of a non-title affair. Then came his defense against former world champion Gabriel Ruelas, which was also named "fight of the year" by Ring Magazine. Rocked by a left uppercut in the fourth, Gatti absorbed more than 15 consecutive punches before being saved by the bell. In the fifth, he connected on a left hook to knock Ruelas out.
Gatti relinquished the world title, going up in weight to the lightweight division. 1998 was not a good year for Gatti he was stooped by Angel Manfredy and he lost on two other occasions to Ivan Robinson.
Gatti's first fight of 2000 proved to be controversial. Faced with former world champion Joey Gamache, Gatti won by a knockout in round two. A subsequent lawsuit by Gamache's handlers claimed Gatti had gained 19 pounds since the weigh-in the day before and thus had a large advantage over Gamache. In the wake of the fight, boxing regulators pushed for a new law limiting the amount of weight a competitor can gain between the weigh-in and time of the fight. Gatti was also accused by Gamache's handlers of not having actually made the contracted weight of 141 pounds. After Gatti-Gamache, some boxing commissions started weighing boxers a second time.
Gatti also won his two other fights that year.
After running off four straight wins, he was set for a big payday against Oscar De La Hoya in 2001. Although Gatti was knocked out in the fifth round of a one-sided fight, his almost cult-like following never wavered in its support. He style had captured the public imagination.
In 2002, Gatti returned to the junior welterweight division and defeated former world champion Terronn Millett by a knockout in round four.
It was the trilogy with Ward that re-established Gatti’s status, however. He lost the first thrilling bout by a split decision in May 2002, but won the other two. All were brutal,
Gatti’s trainer, Buddy McGirt, once recalled how in the ninth round of the first fight with Ward, Gatti was doubled over from a punch to the body.
“I saw tears rolling down his eyes,” McGirt said in 2006. “He said, ‘My side hurts, but I’m going to make it through the last round.’ I told him I wasn’t going to let him get hurt, that if I didn’t see some bounce, I was going to stop the fight.’ He got up and started bouncing in the corner. He finished the fight.”
On June 7, 2003, he and Ward had a rubber match. Gatti broke his twice-repaired right hand on an uppercut to the hip in the fourth, and he dropped his arm. In the sixth, Gatti dominated the round but got caught with an overhand right to the top of the head a second before the bell rang and went down. The final scorecards read, 96–93 (twice), and 97–92, in favor of Gatti. The third fight between the two was again named "fight of the year" by Ring Magazine.
“I was sitting with him at the post-fight press conference — I can’t remember which one — and I looked at his hand and it was three times the normal size,” recalled Kathy Duva, of Main Events, his long-term promoter, “He gave me this goofy grin and said, ‘Yeah, I know. We’ll party tonight and I’ll go to the hospital tomorrow’.”
On January 24, 2004, Gatti also recovered from a broken hand, scored a tenth round knock-down and defeated Gianluca Branco of Italy by a 12 round unanimous decision to win the vacant WBC junior welterweight title.
On July 24, 2004, he knocked out the previously unbeaten former world champion Leonard Dorin Doroftei in two rounds at Atlantic City, to retain his title.
Gatti's second defense of his WBC title came against former world junior lightweight champion Jesse James Leija on January 29, 2005. Gatti beat Leija by a fifth round knockout.
In his next fight, Gatti fought former super featherweight and lightweight world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. on June 25, 2005. He took a horrific beating and Gatti's corner man threw in the towel after he was beaten around the ring, thus ending his title reign via sixth-round technical knockout.
After the loss to Mayweather, Gatti moved up to the welterweight division. He beat Thomas Damgaard on January 28, 2006, by an eleventh round technical knockout to win the vacant IBA welterweight title and became a champion in 3 different weight divisions.
On July 22, 2006, Gatti lost by a TKO Carlos Baldomir vying for the world welterweight championship. He then broke off his relationship with Buddy McGirt and had a new trainer in Micky Ward.
Gatti attempted a comeback on July 14, 2007, against Alfonso Gomez, only to get TKO'd by Gomez. After the fight, Gatti announced his retirement in the dressing room, reportedly quipping: "I'll be back — as a spectator".
Early Death - Gatti, was on his second honeymoon with his wife, Amanda and their 10-month-old baby when his blood-spattered body was discovered. - Former champ and fan favorite Arturo Gatti was found dead in his room at a seaside hotel in Porto de Galihnas, Brazil on July 11, 2009. Gatti, 37, had arrived at the resort the previous day with his Brazilian wife and 1-year-old son. Gatti's wife, was initially jailed (though never formally charged with any crime) as the only suspect in the case.
The boxer's widow, Amanda Carina Barbosa Rodrigues, who had been arrested as a suspect, was released from jail - Thursday, the newspaper O Diario de Pernambuco reported. - Her lawyer, Celio Avelino, argued that it "would have been impossible for her to suspend and hang a man of that size".
The Brazilian authorities initially ruled Gatti's death a homicide and then decided it was a suicide. Yet, almost two years later, the circumstances concerning Gatti's death remain unclear.
Over the course of his career Gatti fought 49 times. He won 40 of the bouts, 31 by knockout. None of his fights were draws.