Ringtalk.com’s “Fight Chick” Ringside for the Calm After “Thunder” Storm
By Frances Martel
This past Saturday, after six rounds of humiliation and one—the fifth—of pure heart, Arturo Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs), the most entertaining fighter of his generation, paved the way for the birth of a new one, accepting punishment from opponent Alfonso Gomez (17-3-2, 8 KOs) until his knees gave way in the seventh. Gatti then overcame his only fear, retirement, and announced that his presence in any ring was extraneous a decade after his first world championship win against Tracy Harris Patterson (63-8-2, 43 KOs). He was, however, unable to cope with his retirement headfirst, citing his inability to reach 140 or be a menace at 147, and not his age, as primary reasons. Despite having sealed his Hall of Fame status against rival turned trainer Mickey Ward (38-13, 27 KOs) in 2003, for a man like Arturo Gatti, whose sustenance is the sound of the crowd chanting his name and whose personality is only as strong as the support of his fans, leaving behind the only stage he has known at an age that, outside of boxing, is extremely young, the death of boxing in his life is death itself.
Photo: Rafael Martel
Who can blame him for fighting with that perspective? A career is an identity; with it dies the person that created it. This is why the privileged few who enjoy wealth and fame without a career spend a great deal of their lives pursuing one (unemployed celebrity Paris Hilton’s attempts at singing, acting, and modeling quickly come to mind). Sure, Gatti will continue to play the most significant roles in his life—father, son, partner, and friend—but he will no longer be the larger-than-life gladiator that children like Alfonso Gomez grew up wanting to be; he will no longer play the warrior that glows roughly in the spotlights as he draws blood from an enemy in exchange for that pouring down his cheek, under his permanently cut left eye. He is a civilian again— a black hole in the welterweight sky that twinkles so brightly with stars like Floyd Mayweather (38-0, 24 KOs), Ricky Hatton (43-0, 31 KOs), Miguel Cotto (30-0, 25 KOs), Shane Mosley (44-4, 37 KOs), and a regenerated Kermit Cintron (28-1, 26 KOs)—who defeated opponent Walter Matthysse (26-2, 25 KOs) in two rounds the same night— that few bother to look for the spot where Gatti used to shine.
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Photo: Rafael Martel