After his fight last night with Carlos Baldomir, Arturo Gatti was asked by Larry Merchant if he has any plans to retire. Gatti, of course, said he was definitely going to consider it.
Last night I watched Arturo Gatti's last stand, I think. I hope, even. Gatti couldn't hurt Baldomir, even landing some really solid shots and a few seriously vicious left hooks that might've put a smaller fighter than Baldomir on the canvas. Gatti can't beat someone as big as Baldomir. He's just not strong enough. And what can he prove at 140?
Thunder Gatti is 34 years old and has provided some extremely memorable moments over his career. The trio of fights with Micky Ward. The numerous comebacks and absolute battles that showed how much honest to God heart Arturo Gatti had as a fighter -- the Wilson Rodriguez fight, the Calvin Grove fight, the Tracy Harris Patterson fight in '95, and many more.
Gatti never really beat an elite fighter. In fact, the two times he fought them -- de la Hoya and Mayweather -- he was handled with ease. And Baldomir totally dominated Gatti. I thought Thunder won two rounds, but I wouldn't argue with anyone that said they'd given all eight of them to Baldomir. Baldomir had no real trouble with Gatti whatsoever, and at the end of it all, I was standing as I watched Arturo Gatti hit the mat for the second time in mere seconds, slowly crumbling, and I knew I was watching it end for one of boxing's greatest warriors.
I try not to get sentimental about fighters, but Gatti was definitely someone you can get sentimental about. He was a blood-and-guts fighter. He could box, which is often overlooked, but he loved a slugfest.
Gatti made no excuses after the fight, knowing he'd been beaten by the better fighter. But Gatti was never really one for excuses anyway. He gave every fight everything he had. And I admit, I was a little sad when at the end of the HBO broadcast, after so many fights on the network that featured Arturo Gatti, Jim Lampley simply wished him all the best in the future.
Guys like Gatti aren't really meant to go out on top, because the top was never their place to begin with. It was one fight at a time, making a living and providing fight fans with an entertaining show almost every time out. And I do hope that this is it, because I see nothing more for Gatti to do. If so, thanks for the memories, Thunder.
On the flipside, Carlos Baldomir has more than officially become a fighter to see. He absorbed punishment from Gatti that really would have hurt a lot of fighters. And by absorbed, I truly mean absorbed, merely walking through some hard shots from Gatti and sticking his right hand in at will. Hats off to Baldomir on a fantastic performance.