Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Daily Pugilist: Arturo Gatti

Today is Thunder's 36th birthday. It's also Emma Watson's 18th birthday, but that's a topic for another website. Probably one that you don't want showing up on your credit card bill.

Arturo Gatti will not go down in boxing history as one of the five or ten or fifteen best boxers of all time. He only fought 49 times in his career and most of his wins for the first three years of his professional career were over extremely shady competition. And he was in lower weight classes (lightweight and later welterweight) before pay-per-view knew that the heavyweight division was dead. Which it has arguably been since February 10th, 1990.

However, Gatti is indisputably one of the most exciting boxers of our generation. Four times in his 49 fights he participated in Ring Magazine's Fight of the Year (including three years in a row). Gatti was simply a spectacular workhorse, one of the bloodiest and tireless combatants ever to step in a boxing ring. Whenever I see footage of him I think of Boxer, the horse from Animal Farm.

Gatti's thrilling career is a reminder that boxing is not dead if people will simply stop paying to watch 240-pound asthmatics slow dance with each other.

If you want to watch some boxing, look first to the welterweight, featherweight, and lightweight divisions, by far the most competitive and entertaining. The welterweight division is best known for Floyd Mayweather, but is best represented by Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto, undefeated in 32 fights with 26 wins by knockout. The featherweights are led by Manny Pacquiao, a true craftsman who destroys virtually everything he touches, as well as Juan Manuel Marquez, Ring Magazine's third-best boxer in the world (behind Mayweather and Pacquiao). And the lightweights feature perhaps the most popular British boxer of all time, Ricky "Hitman" Hatton.

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