For many boxing fans my age, twenty-four, we know the name Arturo Gatti, and it is only because of him that many know the name Micky Ward. Gatti and Ward met in the ring three times. Perhaps “met in the ring” is to soft of a term to explain what happened when these two guys got in the ring against each other. These two warriors fought thirty hard, long, bloody rounds. They won fight of the year, twice (which happened to be three times in a row for Ward). They won round of the year, and critical acclaim through the boxing world. The first of their fights took place at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. The next two and the rest of Gatti’s career took place in Atlantic City, NJ at the famed Boardwalk Hall.
What many casual fans do not know is that this was actually the second wind to Gatti’s long, blood stained career. He had fought Ivan Robinson, Oscar De La Hoya, and Tracey Patterson, just to name a few. He may not have won them all, but it could be argued that there was never a fighter in the ring with him who had less heart. His style was what boxing fans live for. Riddled with knockdowns and cuts, always leaving the ring bloody and bruised (unless he got to land a body shot first), and never leaving anything at the ropes. Sometimes it was painful to watch, but it was never boring.
Recently it was announced that Gatti’s name would appear on the ballot for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. This sparked incredible controversy within the boxing community; some saying that Gatti did not have the skill or the resume to land a spot in the Canastota, NY based museum. Others argued that the fighters sheer will, determination, and heart earned him a spot. Since Gatti, who is unfortunately deceased, is not around today to share with us his feelings on the honor of being nominated we reached out to one of the people who may have known him best, both in and out of the ring.
As stated at the beginning of this report, Micky Ward spent thirty rounds in the ring against Gatti, and a few more in the corner with him. So who better to ask about the nomination than Ward himself? When asked his thoughts about Gatti’s nomination, considering that his three epic fights with Gatti might have been a contributing factor Ward said, “It feels good knowing I contributed to him hopefully getting in, but you know, he had a lot of great fights other than our three fights. I like to consider it the icing on the cake, if you want to call it that. He has had some of the best fights, best rounds in boxing for that matter, so it should stick cause he deserves it, he was a blood and guts warrior so I think he deserves it.”
When asked if Ward speak to the voters at the Hall of Fame about Gatti he simply said, “He was a great boxer, he should be in, and he deserves it.”
We also asked about fighters who may have been passed over for a spot in the IBHOF, Ward, giving an educated answer, replied “Tony Demarco out of Boston, he had great fights with Carmen Bascilio, he was a welterweight champ of the world. He was a champ when there were only eight champions of the world, now there are twenty for each division.” Point taken.
We would like to think that Ward knows what he is talking about, so while we had him on the hook we decided to pick his brain a little more about current events in boxing. Ricky Hatton recently announcing he is coming out of retirement. As a fighter who has been out of the scene for a little bit, it’s not hard to imagine that Ward has an idea of what Hatton might be in for. “The time he took off I think it was good for him, a lot of demons come out that he has overcome, a lot of people screw up, people talk about this and that, that’s bullshit, he should be able to do what he wants. Coming out of retirement might be good for him, he solved his personal issues.”
As far as the fight Hatton has lined up with Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko, Micky says “I really can’t comment on that, I’ve never seen him fight, I hear he is a tough opponent, I don’t really know him.”
“I think he will fare good, he will be a little rusty but he will be ok after a few fights. I think Ricky is a good fighter, if he has anything left he will be back on top with anybody.” Well, we had to wonder, could it possible that considering the way Hatton left the sport, with KO losses to Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Ward answers, “Some guys like John Ruiz came back a better fighter after a knockout.”
I think it is hard to disagree with Ward on these topics. What do you think? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.
We would like to thank Micky Ward, Ray Greenhalge and Heather Alexander for their contributions to this piece.