From the early days fighting on the USA Network’s now defunct boxing series, Tuesday Night Fights, Arturo Gatti has always proven himself a warrior. It was not until he won the IBF super featherweight title by decisioning Tracy Harris Patterson on HBO in 1995, however, that he broke into the collective consciousness of the fight game. Since that time, Gatti has been one of boxing’s most exciting fighters, engaging in one fight of the year candidate after another. From the Patterson fight to the dramatic knockout over Wilson Rodriguez, and from a similar comeback win over Gabe Ruela to exciting losses against Ivan Robinson and Angel Manfredy, he has been a fighter that the public wants to see.
In 2002, Gatti had his first fight under the tutelage of former two-time champion and sure bet Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt, and was reborn in dismantling Terron Millett. McGirt helped Gatti get back to his boxing basics, and Gatti followed the Millett fight with one of the most unforgettable trilogies in the history of the sport, against Micky Ward, taking two out of three in that series. This January, with McGirt in the corner, Gatti became a world champion for the second time in his career, winning the WBC junior welterweight title with a hard fought decision over Italy’s Gianluca Branco.
As he prepares for a July 24 showdown in Atlantic City with tough customer Leonard Dorin, Gatti continues working with McGirt to improve his boxing game. If the two continue the success they have had, they will be forever linked together, like Rocky Balboa and Mickey Goldmill, or if you are video game inclined, like Doc and Little Mac. Gatti is a real-life boxing superhero, a fighter who always gives a good show in victory and in defeat. McGirt is there to eliminate those defeats and to add years to Gatti’s boxing career. To date, they have been a match made in boxing heaven, and recently took time to speak to Doghouse Boxing about the upcoming fight with Dorin. Here is what they had to say:
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DB: Hi Arturo, how is training going?
Arturo Gatti: I’ve been in camp about three weeks and I’m feeling good.
DB: How is the right hand holding up, and will it be a concern in your next fight?
AG: It’s good, I got some custom-made gloves by Everlast. My hand is good, they are bringing in some water bags for the gym. You know, in the last fight, I hurt my hand before the fight so I went into the fight injured. So I’m making sure I will not be injured in this fight. My hand is holding up well. It’s a concern, I’m sure everyone’s worried about that, but right now I feel good about it. My hand feels good and that’s all that matters, and right now I’m just taking it one day at a time.
DB: What are your thoughts on your next opponent, Leonard Dorin?
AG: He’s a tough fighter. He has a lot to prove so he’s going to come in in the best shape of his life. It’s a big opportunity for him, so I’m keeping that in the back of my mind, and I have to be 150% in this fight. He’s going to give 150% in this fight, and I am going to be ready for that.
DB: Buddy, I know you don’t want to give away too much of the gameplan, but is there anything special that you are working on in the gym with Arturo for this fight?
Buddy McGirt: We have a couple of tricks up our sleeves. With Dorin, we know what he’s going to do, it’s no secret. We have a couple of things we are working on to make the fight that much easier.
DB: Arturo, Paul Spadafora is known primarily as a boxer, but he was drawn into a slugfest with Dorin. So, going into this fight, is it your plan to box as you have been doing more of recently, or because of his deficiency in power, will you get into more exchanges?
AG: No, not at all. We’ve been fighting as a boxer-puncher in my last couple of fights, and that’s been working for me. That’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to box. That’s all Buddy wants me to do. My instructions are very important from Buddy, and I’m going to listen to him. It’s all up to me how this fight will turn out.
DB: Buddy, what is your take on a slugfest scenario?
BM: The key is that there is going to come a time when we are going to have to stand and let him know, look here Jack, you can’t sit here and bang with us. So there’s going to come a time when we have to sit in the pocket and get that respect. We’re going to add a little pizzazz to it. I don’t want it to be a slugfest. I want Arturo to stand in and fight when he wants to fight, and not when Dorin wants to fight. Why make it harder if you don’t have to? I just see Arturo really taking him to school. I don’t think he’s fought anyone with Arturo’s intensity.
DB: Arturo, how is Micky Ward doing? What is your relationship with him now that you are done fighting him in the ring?
AG: We speak all the time, and he’s doing well. Right now he’s in England, and he’s supposed to come back and see me for a couple of days in camp.
DB: Do you feel any extra pressure to live up to the expectations that the fans have based on the fact that they identify you as the greatest action fighter in boxing today and for the past several years? How do you deal with those expectations?
AG: I just do what I do best, and that’s boxing, fighting. People always think that because I’m going to box, the crowd is not going to be happy. I’ve been boxing and the crowd loves it. And if you want to see me around for a couple more years, it’s best for me to box. But the expectations are great, I love it.
DB: You have engaged in countless wars over the years and taken a lot of punches. Do you have any concerns for your health in the future when you look at fighters who have suffered serious mental and physical problems after their careers were over?
AG: You know, that’s part of the business. Do I think about it? Not really. Mentally, I’m sure I’m going to be fine. Physically, every athlete in the world, when they hit a certain age, when they train, their body aches.
DB: How does it feel for you to have been written off after the losses to Manfredy, Robinson, and particularly De La Hoya, to come back the way you have, more popular and fighting better than ever?
AG: I don’t know, I guess I’m blessed and I have to thank God for that. I’m just a fortunate guy and I’m very happy that I ran into Buddy and gave him an opportunity to work with me in my corner.
DB: Who are some of the fighters you would like to fight provided you are successful against Dorin?
AG: I’m going to take it a fight at a time, because I’ve been asked that question and they said I was looking ahead. So against Dorin, I’m going to do my best, I’m going to win this fight. I’m very confident of that. It’s not even about me, it’s what HBO wants, and Spadafora is the next opponent for the next fight. Mayweather wants to fight me, so I have him in the back of my mind also.
DB: Buddy, who would you like to see Arturo up against?
BM: Right now I would just like to see him get this one over with, and enjoy this defense, and whoever comes next, we’ll take care of. I don’t look past it, only thing I want to do is get this one done and get ready for the next guy.
DB: Arturo, who poses the biggest challenge for you in the junior welterweight division?
DB: Will we see another move up in weight if you get the chance to fight Cory Spinks or any of the other top welterweights?
AG: If I get the opportunity to fight for the title I will move up to 147. And if Buddy thinks I’m able to carry 147, no problem.
DB: Do you have any timetable for how long you will continue to fight?
AG: No, not really. It just depends on how my career will go.
DB: Is there anything you would like to add in closing?
AG: Just tune in to HBO on July 24 if you can’t make it, it’s going to be a great event.
DB: Best of luck to you guys, and thanks so much for your time.
The following is Arturo Gatti’s fight record:
Professional Record: 43 fights; 37+ (28 KO), 6-
1994: United States Junior lightweight
1995-1998: I.B.F. Junior lightweight
2004: WBC Junior Welterweight
- 1991 -
+ (Jun-10-1991, Secaucus) Jose GONZALEZ kot 3
+ (Jul-9-1991, Philadelphia) Luis MELENDEZ ko 1
+ (Aug-2-1991, Newark) Richard DE JESUS ko 1
+ (Oct-22-1991, Philadelphia) Francisco Anguiano kot 1
- 1992 -
+ (Apr-22-1992, East Rutherford) Antonio GONZALEZ ko 1
+ (May-15-1992, Atlantic City) Joe LAFONTANT 6
- (Nov-17-1992, Philadelphia) King Solomon 6
- 1993 -
+ (Mar-23-1993, Rotterdam) Plamen GUECHEV kot 1
+ (Apr-7-1993, Newark) Curtis Mathis kot 3
+ (May-15-1993, Brick) Clifford HICKS kot 3
+ (Jun-20-1993, Atlantic City) Cristino Suero ko 3
+ (Jul-30-1993, New York) Robert SCOTT kot 1
+ (Aug-24-1993, Atlantic City) Luis Guzman kot 1
+ (Oct-23-1993, Atlantic City) Derek Francis kot 1
+ (Nov-11-1993, Melville) Glenn IRIZARRY kot 1
- 1994 -
+ (Jan-8-1994, Catskill) Leon Bostic 8
+ (May-6-1994, Atlantic City) Darrell Singleton kot 1
+ (Jun-25-1994, Secaucus) Pete TALIAFERRO kot 1 (United States, Junior lightweight)
+ (Aug-16-1994, Philadelphia) Richard SALAZAR kot 10 (United States, Junior lightweight)
+ (Nov-22-1994, Secaucus) Jose SANABRIA 12 (United States, Junior lightweight)
- 1995 -
+ (Mar-9-1995, Groningue) Rouslan SMOLENKOV ko 1
+ (Apr-22-1995, Atlantic City) Tito TOVAR ko 1
+ (Jul-13-1995, Atlantic City) Barrington FRANCIS kot 6
+ (Oct-7-1995, Atlantic City) Carlos VERGARA ko 1
+ (Dec-15-1995, New York) Tracy HARRIS PATTERSON 12 (I.B.F., Junior lightweight)
- 1996 -
+ (Mar-23-1996, New York) Wilson RODRIGUEZ ko 7 (I.B.F., Junior lightweight)
+ (Jul-11-1996, New York) Feliciano CORREA ko 3
- 1997 -
+ (Feb-22-1997, Atlantic City) Tracy HARRIS PATTERSON 12 (I.B.F., Junior lightweight)
+ (May-4-1997, Atlantic City) Calvin GROVE retiring 8
+ (Oct-4-1997, Atlantic City) Gabriel RUELAZ kot 5 (I.B.F., Junior lightweight)
- 1998 -
- (Jan-17-1998, Atlantic City) Angel MANFREDY injury 8
- (Aug-22-1998, Atlantic City) Ivan ROBINSON 10
- (Dec-12-1998, Atlantic City) Ivan ROBINSON 10
- 1999 -
+ (Aug-14-1999, Ledyard) Reyes MUNOZ ko 1
- 2000 -
+ (Feb-26-2000, New York) Joey GAMACHE ko 2
+ (Apr-29-2000, New York) Eric JAKUBOWSKI kot 2
+ (Sep-8-2000, Montreal) Joe HUTCHINSON 10
- 2001 -
- (Mar-24-2001, Las Vegas) Oscar DE LA HOYA kot 5
- 2002 -
+ (Jan-26-2002, New York) Terronn Millett ko 4
- (May-18-2002, Uncasville) Mickey WARD 10
+ (Nov-23-2002, Atlantic City) Mickey WARD 10
- 2003 -
+ (Jun-7-2003, Atlantic City) Mickey WARD 10
- 2004 -
+ (Jan-24-2004, Atlantic City) Gianluca BRANCO 12, (WBC Junior Welterweight)