Although his nickname is "Thunder", Arturo Gatti has risen from the ashes on so many occasions that it would be more appropriate to designate him "The Phoenix".
Gatti was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, but has lived in Jersey City, NJ since 1991. He speaks four languages-English, French, Spanish and Italian -and began boxing at the age of eight.
He turned pro on June 10, 1991, scoring a third-round TKO over Jose Gonzalez. He then went on to win his next five straight--four inside the distance. After suffering a minor setback to King Solomon in November 1992 (L 6), Gatti won his next 23 bouts--19 by KO--with 10 of those coming in the first-round and just six extending past the third-round.
On June 28, 1994, he won his first professional title, the USBA jr. lightweight crown, by crushing defending champion Pete Taliaferro in one round at The Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus, NJ (TKO 1). Seven bouts later he challenged for his first world title.
On December 15, 1995, in front of 16,000 rabid fans at Madison Square Garden in New York, Gatti floored defending IBF jr. lightweight champion Tracy Patterson once in the second-round with a crisp right-uppercut on his way to capturing a unanimous decision and the IBF title (W 12).
Gatti returned to the "Mecca of Boxing" on March 23, 1996, to defend his title for the first time against Wilson Rodriguez. It's doubtful that any of the nearly 5,000 spectators expected to witness one of the greatest fights ever; yet, that is exactly what they saw.
The fight began precariously for Gatti as Rodriguez's stiff left jab and stinging right cross swelled Gatti's eyes immediately in round one. Round two was even worse for the champ as he was knocked to the canvas.
While cutman Joe Souza miraculously kept Gatti's eyes open, Gatti continued his game plan of punishing Rodriguez's body. In the fifth-round, Gatti drilled the Spaniard with a left hook that broke a rib and sent the challenger to the canvas. In the sixth-round, Rodriguez desperately attempted to protect his injured rib and by doing so left his chin open to the left hook that ended one of the greatest fights, and comebacks, in boxing history. So impressive was Gatti's performance that the bout was selected as 1996's "Fight of the Year."
On February 22, 1997, Gatti decisioned Patterson in their rematch for his second IBF title defense (W 12).
Four bouts later on October 4, 1997, Gatti sent boxing fans at Atlantic City's Convention Hall into a frenzy when he drilled former world champion Gabriel Ruelas with a devastating combination in round five to successfully defend his crown for the third time.
Round five began disastrously for Gatti. Drilled again by several uppercuts, Arturo's demise appeared imminent. Valiantly, he pulled the trigger on his patented left hook, landing it flush on the chin of Ruelas. Ruelas crashed to the canvas, rose at the count of six, but was unable to continue (TKO 5). The bout was selected as 1997's "Fight of the Year." Following the Ruelas bout Gatti relinquished his crown and moved up to the lightweight division.
After losing to Angel Manfredy on January 17, 1998, thanks to a severe cut sustained in the first round (TKOby 8), Gatti fought a memorable battle against Ivan Robinson.
On August 22, 1998, Gatti and Robinson furiously traded punches from the opening bell in a bout that won 1998 "Fight of the Year" honors. Gatti relentlessly pursued Robinson, but was unable to equal Robinson's 50% connect ratio. The Jersey City, NJ hero nearly pulled off another miracle comeback in round 10 when with less than 45 seconds to go in the fight he rocked Robinson with a right hook and sent him reeling across the ring. Unfortunately, Gatti was unable to finish-off Robinson before the bell sounded ending the epic war (L 10).
Gatti lost another 10 round decision to Robinson on December 12, 1998, but then rebounded to defeat his next four opponents and earn a showdown against one of boxing's best pound-for-pound fighters, Oscar de la Hoya.
On March 24, 2001, Gatti again proved why he is boxing's most exciting fighter as he traded bombs with Oscar de la Hoya for five rounds before his corner ended the bout by throwing in the towel at the 1:16 mark of round five (TKOby 5).
He returned to the ring on Saturday, January 26, 2002, in the Theater at Madison Square Garden and launched himself into jr. welterweight world title contention by pummeling former IBF jr. welterweight champion Terronn Millett in four rounds (TKO 4). Under the tutelage of new trainer James "Buddy" McGirt, Gatti boxed beautifully, flooring Millett once in round three and twice in round four to earn the stoppage. The official time was 2:23 of round four.
On May 18, 2002, Gatti lost a controversial majority decision to Micky Ward in a bout that is a virtual lock to receive 2002's "Fight of the Year" honors and will be remembered as one of the greatest fights ever broadcast in television history (L 10). The two fighters staged their own "Rocky" movie, trading thunderous blows from the opening bell. So overcome with excitement was HBO commentator George Foreman following round nine that he declared it the "Round of the Century". Although the judges scored the bout in favor of Ward, of the eight members of the press polled at ringside following the bout, seven selected Gatti as the winner.
On November 23, 2002, Gatti dominated Micky Ward to capture a definitive unanimous decision victory in the highly-anticipated rematch. In round three Gatti launched "one of the greatest right hands I've ever thrown." The punch deflected off Ward's shoulder before crashing against his head, sending him to his knees, face-first into the turnbuckle. Somehow, in a superhuman display of courage, Ward managed to survive the round and continue to battle until the final bell. However, Gatti's superior boxing skills governed the evening as the Jersey City, NJ fan-favorite stung Ward repeatedly with stiff left jabs and thunderous body punches, and slipped Ward's lethal left hooks with excellent head movement and lateral movement.
On June 7, 2003, Arturo Gatti met Micky Ward in the ring for the third and final time to settle the score of their previous two bouts. In the middle of the third round Arturo threw a hard right to Micky's body fracturing his right hand when it connected. Despite suffering tremendous pain, Arturo continued to fight superbly and dominated the scorecards en route to a unanimous decision victory against Ward.
The Gatti/Ward trilogy has found it's place in boxing history as perhaps the most exciting 30 rounds the sport has ever seen. Gatti is currently enjoying yet another new phase in his career, that of undisputed WBC World Junior Welterweight champion. Gatti captured the title by a unanimous decision against Italy's Gianluca Branco in January of 2004 and went on to defend that title against Leonard Dorin. Dorin, who most boxing analysts felt was a Micky Ward-like nemesis for Arturo, was floored in the second round by a viscious Gatti left and could not make it to his feet in time to beat the count.
Gatti will continue to steam roll his way through the Super Lightweight division when he takes on veteran warrior Jesse James Leija on January 29, 2005.