By Mark Vester
It was well known that Buddy McGirt would no longer be the trainer for Arturo Gatti (40-8, 31 KOs), but many were shocked when "Irish" Micky Ward (38-13, 27 KOs) was selected as the man who would train Gatti for his July 14 return at the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. McGirt and Gatti parted ways not long after Arturo's July 06 knockout loss to then WBC welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir.
From May 18, 2002 to June 7, 2003, Gatti and Ward engaged in three of the most vicious fights in boxing history. Ward won the first meeting be decision, and Gatti won the following two encounters, also by decision. Ward retired after their third meeting and began to train amateurs and young prospects at the West End Gym in Lowell.
Ward told the Atlantic City Press , that he was shocked when he got the call to train Gatti, but he knows his former foe's style and thinks he will do a good job.
"I was a little shocked when he called to ask me to come on, but I'm looking forward to it. It's a good match because we both give 110 percent at anything we do. I'm trying to give the same effort at training that I gave in the ring," Ward said. "I know Arturo's style. I know what makes him tick. I think Arturo has something left, more than he showed in his last fight (vs. Baldomir)."
"Nobody understands that we became pretty close friends after trying to kill each other in the ring. We have great respect for each other and a good friendship. Arturo's a great guy and a great fighter and I'm just hoping to help get him back on track."
Gatti's manager, Pat Lynch, told the paper that Ward's presence will only make Gatti work harder.
"Can you imagine how inspired Arturo will get from doing his roadwork in the morning with Micky and then training with him in the afternoon?" said Lynch. "Somebody said to me this is like Joe Frazier training Muhammad Ali."