Gatti-Ward Ref: I Would Have Got Killed If I Stopped It

By Keith Idec

Retired referee Frank Cappuccino provided one of several laugh-out-loud moments during “The Tale of Gatti-Ward,” the latest installment in HBO’s “Legendary Nights” series.

While discussing the incredible ninth round of the first fight between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, Cappuccino candidly explained his decision to let the unbelievable brutality continue.

“I would’ve got killed if I stopped that fight,” Cappuccino said during the documentary, scheduled to debut Saturday night on HBO. “They’d have ruined me. ‘Oh Jesus, Frank Cappuccino, he really shitted out the place.’ You know?”

Gatti got up somehow from a perfectly placed, paralyzing left hook to body from Ward that dropped the late legend just 15 seconds into the ninth round. Ward didn’t think Gatti would get back to his feet before Cappuccino counted to 10, let alone start teeing off on him again in what’s widely viewed as one of the most entertaining encounters in boxing history.

Despite Gatti’s courageous comeback, the equally resilient Ward thought the fight would be stopped following the ninth round, too.

“I thought they were going to stop it at the end of the ninth,” Ward recalled. “I thought someone [waved an end to the fight]. So I was like, ‘Oh! Thank God. The fight’s over.’ I’m like, ‘Jesus Christ.’ I’m like, ‘Oh man. Yeah! It’s over.’ [Cappuccino says], ‘No, no, no, no. The fight’s not over. Get back in your corner.’ I go, ‘You son of a bitch.’ ”

Ward won a majority decision that unforgettable night in Uncasville, Conn. He lost his second and third 10-round fights against Gatti by unanimous decision, but they formed an unbreakable bond during their thrilling trilogy and became close friends after it ended in June 2003.

Their relationship is a central theme in “The Tale of Gatti-Ward,” which was narrated by Mark Wahlberg, who played Ward in the Academy Award-winning movie, “The Fighter.” The 75-minute documentary also examines Gatti’s mysterious July 2009 death in Brazil.

It includes interviews with Ward, his wife, Charlene Ward; Boston Herald sports columnist Ron Borges; Lou DiBella, Ward’s promoter; Kathy Duva, whose company, Main Events, promoted Gatti throughout his career; Dicky Eklund, Ward’s brother/trainer; HBO commentators Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant; Pat Lynch, Gatti’s career-long manager; Buddy McGirt, Gatti’s trainer; and late referee Earl Morton, who officiated their second and third fights.

“The Tale of Gatti-Ward” will premiere Saturday night at midnight (ET/PT) on HBO, after a replay of the Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez welterweight title fight and the live broadcast of a junior welterweight championship match between Denver’s Mike Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs) and Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) from Broomfield, Colo. (9:45 p.m. ET/PT).

Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by airplane on 10-18-2013

boy you sure know how to rain on the parade, obviously there is always one in the group. you probably also swear that Gatti took his life becasue he you mentioned..."brain damaged". like the other guy said, maybe you…

Comment by jondacon on 10-18-2013

This will be amazing to watch. Cant wait. Gatti was one of my all time fav fighters and his trilogy with Ward was amazing. RIP Gatti.

Comment by SouthPawHitman on 10-17-2013

[QUOTE=True Alpha Male;13851434]Man he's a damn selfish idiot in my books. Look I appreciate a slugfest but what ensued in that fight was a throwback to the barbarism in ancient cultures, like when they fed people to lions.... Gatti was…

Comment by .Mexico. on 10-17-2013

This is how all refs should be, just let them fight.

Comment by Hurtin-Bombs on 10-17-2013

Cappuccino is an awesome ref. That was such an epic moment Frank didnt' even blink at the thought of stopping that. what a fight

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