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Gatti / H.O.F.
BoxingNews Magazine (U.K.) December 15 Issue...
At a ceremony to be held this coming June at an open air Fairgrounds in the small upstate New York town of Canastota, Montreal's Arturo "Thunder" Gatti will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Now, there are some in our world of boxing who have criticized the decision to include this man among the legends of the game. They are among a group of boxing fans and participants who do not believe he is worthy of induction based on his spotty winning percentage in world title fights as well as his perceived lack of overall boxing skills. I myself am definitely not one of them.
In making a case for Arturo "Thunder" Gatti it would be very easy and obvious to point directly to his numerous exciting, thrill a minute appearances on ESPN, HBO and Pay-Per-View that always drew everyone from casual fans to the die hards. Arturo Gatti, along with the likes of fellow Hall Of Fame level pugilists Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson was "must see TV" in his prime. It would be similarly easy to point to his part in drawing the sell out crowds that came to watch him perform live at historic venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York City and Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. In regards to his "fame" it could pointed out how so many boxing fans often felt a level of anticipation before his bouts that rivaled the level of excitement they felt in the 1980's when Iron Mike himself made his own ring walks.
I personally also do appreciate those aspects of his total package but - as should be done - I prefer to take it much further and rightfully validate the man on his in the ring accomplishments.
Most fans seem to remember Arturo for his amazing three fight series with Mickey Ward and that's fine, too. Great fights they were, yes. The ninth round alone of their first fight back in May of 2002 might be enough for some people to wish for a special category at the Hall of Fame that would allow both guys a spot inside it.
But I more often find myself pointing out to surprised listeners how, contrary to popular belief and opinion, Arturo "Thunder" Gatti was much more than just a rock em' sock em' robot who spent every round of every fight taking one to give one. As proof of this, I suggest going to youtube sometime and watching all 12 rounds of each of his two title fights at 130 pounds with another good champion in Tracy Harris Patterson and you will see a combination punching, stuff jabbing, smart boxing, accurate counter punching Arturo Gatti winning both matches in a manner many who haven't seen those fights thought not possible. I still say Arturo used text book skills and smarts in each of those two particular matches as well as most have been able to in the modern era.
Other points to consider when contemplating the worth of Gatti are these: The man won forty professional fights in his career, a milestone of sorts even the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard and Joe Frazier didn't meet. He was a two-time, two-division world champion at 130 and 140 pounds. He fought for the world welterweight title. He captured seven victories over six different world champions over the course of his sixteen year career.
Between March of 1993 and January 1998 he won 23 bouts in a row including the two world title fight decision victories over Patterson and knockout victories over former champs Calvin Grove and Gabriel Ruelas.
He also won two of the three fights in one of the greatest trilogies in boxing history, the third bout of that trilogy seeing him wisely adjust his game plan to great effect in winning the widest decision of the series.
Included among his nine career losses were at least one that was stopped due to a cut, three that occurred at the very end of his career well into his 30's, two to sure fire future Hall of Famer's and another that came very early on his career in a six round preliminary match. Also notable is the fact that this man was involved in four "Ring Magazine Fight of the Year" bouts (with Ruelas in 1997, Ivan Robinson in 1998 and his first two bouts with Micky Ward in 2002 and 2003).
He also was honored universally by the magazine for his "Knockout Of The Year" of Ruelas.
On top of all that, 2002 saw him win The Ring magazine award for "Comeback of the Year."
Arturo Gatti was not the greatest fighter of all time. He was not even among the top ten greatest fighters of all time, either, but guess what? Neither were the vast majority of the other boxers enshrined in Canastota. But they each did enough on their own to warrant their own inclusion and I personally believe this man has too.