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A Line at a Time… “Thunder” Still Doesn’t Belong

By Lyle Fitzsimmons

Upon getting word last week that my colleagues in the Boxing Writers Association of America elevated Arturo Gatti to “Hall of Famer” status, my initial reaction was… well, let’s just say I wasn’t happy.

It’s not that I don’t think Gatti was a swell guy and it’s not that I’m not sad about his premature demise. I’m sure he was kind to old ladies and loved cuddly animals – which is as good a barometer as any – and I feel sympathy for those who grieve when anyone dies, regardless of the circumstances involved.

But suffice it to say for writing purposes that I’m glad I had something else – namely one of the most stunning big-fight endings I’ve ever seen – to occupy my time last week.

Otherwise, it could have gotten a mite ugly in these parts.

On that topic, and before we get too much further, here’s where it might be appropriate – in the interest of saving me a ton of subsequent email and other communication – to indicate that this is a column, an opinion piece and not a straightforward news account.

So yes, by the power vested in me by my forefathers in journalism – and confirmed each time I receive a paycheck – I do indeed have the right to dispense views from here forward that you very well might not like. Having dispensed with that disclaimer, please don’t tell me how biased I am.

You’ve been warned.

Anyway, now that we’re all eight days into his inductee-elect status, and rather than slamming a door or strangling a stranger with a handbag strap, I’m choosing to vent my frustration here via the outlet that’s been better for me than holding my breath until turning blue.

But instead of plowing through prose on why I quite intensely disagree with the BWAA’s collective decision, I’m framing it with the actual context of a back-and-forth IM discussion I had with a writing colleague – and ardent Gatti supporter – shortly after the inductees list was announced.

Suffice to say, he doesn’t share my contention that Gatti – while he surely provided fodder for perpetual highlight reels – has instantly become the No. 1 contender to replace Joe Frazier as the most colossally overrated member of the Canastota fraternity the instant his plaque is hung.

With that explanation as prelude, read on to see the informal to and fro – with some elements trimmed out for coherence – and determine for yourself if it makes things seem as elementary to you as they do to me. If not, maybe I’ll go back to following big-time minor-league hockey.

(NOTE: Conversation begins with the state of the hall of fame.)

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Give it time. With Gatti, standards are changing.

Misguided Colleague
Nah, Gatti was special and that's why he made the list and got the votes.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Special, schmecial. He was a high-end clubfighter who was well-connected.

Misguided Colleague
His recuperative powers were superhuman.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Against fellow clubbies. He didn't recuperate much against Mayweather and De La Hoya... the two best he got in there with.

Misguided Colleague
He gave Oscar hell!

Lyle Fitzsimmons
And didn't last five rounds.

Misguided Colleague
I take credit for writing his ass right into the IBHOF and swaying voters!

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Give Main Events and HBO the credit. They branded an average fighter as more than that... and brainwashed a generation. Mayweather called him as he was, a C+ fighter, and then beat the snot out of him. After McGirt had supposedly reinvented him. Nonsense. Maybe we ought to get Butterbean in, too. After all, he was king of the four-rounders and everybody loved him. That seems to be enough these days.

Misguided Colleague
Did Bean win two world titles and have world class left hook? Uh, no.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Ummm... I think three-quarters of today's active fighters have won "two world titles." That was legit HOF criteria a generation ago. These days, jewelry gets trumped by signature wins. And his were...? Tracy Patterson? Gabe Ruelas? Please. If that's what earns Canastota these days... they better build some new hallways. It's gonna get pretty crowded.

Misguided Colleague
U kids today are too hung up on "signature" wins and "resumes"

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Yeah... why bother with that actual quality stuff when a couple good train wrecks against Micky Ward are enough to make movies about.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Replace Ward with Mayweather and Gatti's not so good anymore either.

Misguided Colleague
Lol

Misguided Colleague
Gatti earned his legend against Wilson Rodriguez! "People will never forget this fight, people will never stop talking about this fight, it will be shown over and over and over again." YUP! At the IBHOF!

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Zzzzzzzz. And Mayweather was predicting football scores when he KO'd Henry Bruseles. How come no love for that? Wilson Rodriguez?!?!? Really. That's your proof. You'd better hope the BWAA guys don't call while I'm still reading this string.

Misguided Colleague
Proof? No proof. Just facts. That's the night Gatti became a legend that would never be forgotten. That fight DEFINED him and is what made him so special and so beloved.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Maybe a life and death struggle with a seven-loss Puerto Rican super featherweight is what Canastota has reduced itself to these days. John John Molina won seven of nine rounds against Rodriguez before stopping him ... is he a legend because of it? Dude had five KO losses on the resume before Gatti got anywhere near him. Yet coming back from the brink to beat HIM is what makes him a legend? Really?

Misguided Colleague
Once again, and as always, Gatti has proven that it’s about more than "signature" wins and losses and "resumes" – good grief you kids today!

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Yeah... it's about highlight reels. Congrats. The most exciting fighter is now the same thing as a "Hall of Fame" fighter. The dumbing down of Canastota is complete. It's always about "more" than signature wins and resumes when you have "neither."

Misguided Colleague
Hall of Fame, not Hall of Feints - Gatti was the real life ROCKY. Globally famous, dead young and mysterious. They frikkin build Halls of Fame for guys like this!

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Gatti wouldn't have lasted three rounds with anything resembling a real-life Creed. Now that Gatti's in, they need to build another hall and call it the "OK, these are the truly great fighters" and leave Gatti's building like a circus sideshow. It's an insult to the Haglers and Leonards and Alis and Robinsons that a joke like that is in their midst.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
You know that guy, Rodriguez... the next guy he fought after Gatti was 0-17-1.

Misguided Colleague
It’s about the fight, not the stats! U did see that fight on HBO right?

Lyle Fitzsimmons
The last four guys he beat before Gatti were... 5-9-1, 8-22-4, 1-7-0 and 0-1-0. First off, how does that get you a title shot? Second off, if it does get you a title shot, how does the supposed champion not annihilate you in 60 seconds?

Misguided Colleague
Ah kids today are so focused on the numbers!

Lyle Fitzsimmons
But hey... instead of outrage that he was fighting stiff like that, your boy is celebrated because he makes it an exciting fight. If it's anyone else... the writers would go bananas chastising the IBF for making that a title fight. But because it's Gatti and because it's a train wreck fight... it's a "legend."

Misguided Colleague
That's no way to talk about a first ballot hall of famer!

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Zzzzzzz. It no longer means anything.

Misguided Colleague
It means Gatti was better than Curry! Lol

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Gatti's old lady killed him... and Gatti killed Canastota.

Misguided Colleague
Sacrilege! You sully the great name of boxing! That Rodriguez fight was Fight of the Year quality, so it has merits beyond the mere stats; it became something special in a unique way – like Gatti.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
He fought a guy who should have been ranked No. 100. Just because it was a good fight means nothing. If he was a legit champ, it shouldn't have been close.

Misguided Colleague
That was boxing back in 1996. Diluted, but less so than today and tomorrow.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
If Mayweather fights the No. 100 welter and goes life and death with him, will they give him credit for rallying? Hell no. They'll kill him for having anything close to a problem. Hell... lots of people rip Mayweather for getting punched by Cotto... a three-division champ. And he won eight of 12 rounds.

Lyle Fitzsimmons
But Gatti... he's heroic. Garbage.

(NOTE: Conversation changes to our respective pound-for-pound lists and who’s on them.)

Lyle Fitzsimmons
(Klitschko) wins fights... decisively... against everyone who gets in with him.

Misguided Colleague
U gotta do better than that! He's a giant who beats up undersized tomato cans! And the absence of Donaire from your Top 10, that’s an oversight right?

Lyle Fitzsimmons
Nope. No oversight. I'm not sold on him. It's not Wlad's fault he's a giant. I think Wlad is very good. And he's gotten better as champ. True... he's not fighting guys like Wilson Rodriguez. Cans?!?!? Double standard.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

No fights scheduled.

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Last week’s picks: 4-0
Overall picks record: 371-119 (75.7 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

Tags:
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by r2rsoto on 12-20-2012

[QUOTE=!! Shawn;12832736]Lyle is like Piers Morgan.[/QUOTE] Morgan.... OMG! What do you want? Teachers capable to kill an assassin???? or Teachers able to teach???? Jesuss.... Fitz was wrong.... and somebody came and conquer... :usaribbon

Comment by !! Shawn on 12-19-2012

[QUOTE=BIGPOPPAPUMP;12828545]By Lyle Fitzsimmons - Upon getting word last week that my colleagues in the Boxing Writers Association of America elevated Arturo Gatti to “Hall of Famer” status, my initial reaction was… well, let’s just say I wasn’t happy. It’s not…

Comment by A-Wolf on 12-19-2012

Gatti for the Hall of Skill? No. Gatti for the Hall of [I]Fame[/I]. Yes.

Comment by r2rsoto on 12-19-2012

[QUOTE=billeau2;12830853]Its funny how much of a nerve is touched with Gatti. Gatti was special because frankly? he was one of us...Watching a fighter like James Toney, even a 400 pound Toney, punch drunk and surely as a drunken sailor it…

Comment by rogdogx on 12-18-2012

what go screw yourself fitzsimmonds. gatti was the ultimate action fighter of course he belongs he was more man then u could ever be chump.

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