2009 shall forever be remembered as The Year Everyone Awesome Died. Arturo Gatti, one of the finest boxers of my lifetime, is dead at age 37.
Thunder was singlehandedly responsible for introducing me to boxing; when I was 14 years old, during Spring Break, I arbitrarily ordered his first of three unbelievable fights with Micky Ward, and have been hooked ever since.
Gatti was never the best boxer in the world--or even, arguably, in his weight class, considering he won only two titles in his career in an era when even Dingaan Thobela won the lightweight belt--but he was always the toughest. No one can ever claim to have worked harder or taken more brain-swelling cranium shots than Thunder. He was the most exciting boxer since Mike Tyson's heyday in the late 80's.
Two of my favorite boxers are now dead (Gatti and Diego Corrales). Miguel Cotto had better watch himself.