Gatti really was a warrior

BY foxsports • July 13, 2009

Buddy McGirt remembers the last time he spoke to Arturo Gatti. It was the final night Gatti put on gloves and realized he no longer could be the warrior who thrilled millions during his blood-and-guts career.

Gatti through the years

Arturo Gatti

Arturo Gatti was one of the most exciting and courageous fighters of his era. Take a look at his storied career.

It was July 14, 2007, the night when Gatti lost a seventh-round technical knockout to Alfonso Gomez, a nice fighter from the Contender series, who otherwise never would have lasted five rounds with Gatti in his prime.

"He just didn't have the extra tenacity in training like he used to have," McGirt was saying last night. "It was time to hang 'em up. I was happy he retired and moved to Canada to live the life he wanted."

McGirt had assumed all was well with the boxer he trained from December 2001 until that final night against Gomez. Then came the text messages yesterday and eventual confirmation that Gatti, 37, was found dead while vacationing with his wife and infant son in Brazil. Police are investigating and foul play is suspected.

A boxing world already rocked by the suicide death of Alexis Arguello last week is now dealing with another loss of one of its most courageous fighters.

Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs) wasn't skilled at the sweet science. He didn't learn how to hit and not get hit. His brutal slugfests with Ivan Robinson and his epic trilogy with Micky Ward made him a crowd and HBO favorite, and he carried New Jersey boxing late in his career by fighting his final seven fights at Boardwalk Hall.

"The determination he had, it's a certain thing that only certain fighters have," McGirt said. "He wanted to be the best at whatever he did."

He also wanted a better life. Raised on the rough streets of Montreal, Gatti moved to Jersey City and lived up to his nickname "Thunder" by winning two world titles during a 16-year career.

"I just want to be recognized as one of the best ever," Gatti once told me. He seemed unsure how history would treat him, wanting to be known as more than just a brawler.
"He was one of the legendary warriors in boxing," said Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports.

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