A who’s-who record of opponents on their collective resumes, an unbelievable, and tragic, post-fight script for one of many fighters and three fights of intimate warfare that locked in a trilogy of fights as one in every of boxing’s easiest.
Like Marvin Hagler – Tommy Hearns Spherical 1
Like John Locicero – William Lee Spherical 5
Like Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales Spherical 10
Like Gatti – Ward 1, Spherical 9…..scratch that! Like Gatti-Ward, Fights 1-3, Rounds 1-30!
It’s exhausting to consider it has been 20 years!
On Could 18, 2002, Micky Ward (38-13, 27 KO’s) and Arturo Gatti (40-9, 31 KO’s) would have interaction in what can be one of many best fights in boxing historical past. They’d observe it up two extra instances, combating in November of the identical yr, and June of 2003, to finish the trilogy.
Whereas each fighters sported spectacular resumes, with quite a few champions and contenders, it was these three fights that created an epic trilogy and cemented these two warriors as fan favourites. Already checked out in boxing because the hardest of the robust, these battles elevated their reputations to virtually legendary proportions.
Ward, a Lowell, Massachusetts native had confronted Frankie Warren, Harold Brazier, Charles Murray, Vince Philips, Zab Judah, Antonio Diaz and Jesse James Leija, earlier than getting into the ring with Gatti.
Gatti, a Canada-raised, Italy-born, New Jersey resident, was a massively common TV staple, who had constructed his fame having received a world title, together with going through Tracy Harris Patterson, Calvin Grove, Angel Manfredy, Ivan Robinson and Oscar De La Hoya, amongst others, earlier than going through off towards Ward.
This, the primary of the three fights, usually thought-about the very best of the trilogy, was held on the Mohegan Solar, in Uncasville, Connecticut. This was Micky Ward nation, as he hailed from Massachusetts, only a couple hours up the freeway. The following two can be held in Gatti’s residence away from residence, Boardwalk Corridor in Atlantic Metropolis, NJ. In actuality, with each fighters being east coast boxers, they every had a substantial following in each locales.
Whereas all three fights would see super forwards and backwards motion all through, it was the primary battle, named the “Combat of the 12 months” by Ring Journal, that featured virtually unfathomable quantities of punishment being doled out by each fighters. Whereas Gatti was implored to field extra by coach Buddy McGirt, it was the thunderous head and physique pictures to Ward that had been doing the injury. Ward, who himself possessed Gatti-esque toughness, landed a lot of sturdy stuff upstairs however it was the work on the bottom ground that was taking the toll on Gatti.
The battle was shut going into the later rounds and the eighth set the desk for the principle course within the ninth that will characteristic a spherical that rivals any 3-minutes within the sport; really one in every of boxing’s greatest.
After pouring on the punishment to Gatti within the eighth spherical, Ward got here out and dropped him early within the ninth spherical with a physique shot that put him on his knees, barely rising at 9 to beat the rely. The onslaught that adopted would have late, nice coach, (and on this night time HBO ring commentator), Emanuel Steward screaming from ringside. Gatti by some means stayed on his toes, absorbing an unbelievable quantity of punishment from Ward. When the bell rang, each fighters staggered again to their nook as the gang went loopy. Certainly, one in every of boxing’s really nice rounds. As Steward proclaimed on the bell ending spherical 9, “This ought to be the spherical of the century”. Gatti would make it by the ultimate spherical however lose an in depth determination to Ward in one of many best fights within the historical past of the division, and the game.
Fights 2 and three featured a lot of the identical, give and take, carnage from each fighters. However, Gatti, an excellent boxer as an beginner, went right into a disciplined stick and transfer type that made it more durable for Ward to interact inside, one thing that he was capable of goad Gatti into doing within the first encounter. Whereas the 2nd and third bouts within the trilogy had been nonetheless nice fights, with Gatti taking a call in each, they didn’t fairly seize the drama of the first bout – a troublesome, if not not possible, act to observe.
There was discuss of a 4th bout however Ward caught to his determination to stroll away after the third battle and retired from boxing.
Gatti would proceed for 4 extra years, successful a world title, however going 4-3 over his final 7, earlier than lastly retiring for good in 2007.
Regardless of a listing of a number of world champions and contenders on each their resumes, it was these 3 fights towards one another that turned the excessive watermark for his or her profession.
Arturo Gatti, sadly, died beneath suspicious circumstances simply 2 years after he retired, in Brazil. His spouse was initially thought-about a suspect however was later launched from custody and the case stays unsolved to at the present time. Micky Ward, by this time an in depth buddy of Gatti’s, was a pall bearer at his funeral.
Ward, who nonetheless calls Lowell, Massachusetts residence, is having fun with retirement and dealing with his a number of enterprise pursuits.
Really helpful Studying
Whereas there was enormous media protection for all three of the bouts, and biographies of Ward and Gatti after their careers had been over, I need to advocate one nice ebook on the trilogy: Intimate Warfare – The True Story of the Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward Boxing Trilogy, by Dennis Taylor and John Raspanti.
A lot of the story across the 3 bouts, that was kicked off by the unbelievable first battle, is the drama earlier than and after the fights. Gatti and Ward changing into respectful and cordial contributors, finally main into a robust friendship, culminating with Ward coaching Gatti and later being a pall bearer at his funeral. There may be a lot emotion and drama across the storylines outdoors the ring within the trilogy. This ebook captures the emotional ardour of the fighters, their households, and the fights, because it solidifies its rightful place within the annals of boxing as one in every of its really nice (a number of) matchups between two storied fighters. Whereas there are books on the lives of each Gatti and Ward, that is the go-to learn for an in depth and passionate account of one of many sports activities really basic trilogies.
HBO knew they’d a very good battle on their palms when the battle was proposed; how might you not with Gatti and Ward concerned? Within the early 2000’s, each fighters had seen success on totally different ranges and had been in all probability questioning what, if something, was subsequent of their careers? Did they’ve one other run in them? They each had plenty of mileage on them and had been in all probability simply seeking to pad the retirement account a bit earlier than it was over when the battle was proposed. The battle, regardless of no title on the road, would garner a lot curiosity based mostly on the massive respect, industry-wide, each fighters had earned.
Little did they know, the primary battle, 20 years in the past this month, would kick off one in every of boxing’s really nice trilogies.
Thanks, Micky. Thanks, Arturo (gone however not forgotten – Relaxation in Peace).