Category: Archive

Gatti outduels Ward in rematch

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

They brawled in a gripping third round — after Ward had remarkably survived a concussing knockdown — and again in the final stanza. But in between, Gatti outboxed and repeatedly beat his 37-year-old nemesis to the punch to win a lopsided decision in the non-title junior welterweight contest.
Two of the three judges, George Hill and Luis Rivera, both had Gatti winning the bout 98-91, while the third official, Joe Pasquale, scored it 98-90.
Ward, a former World Boxing Union titlist whose biggest consolation was a guaranteed $1 million plus purse, had no qualms with the scoring.
“No excuses,” the classy veteran, whose ledger fell to 38-12, said. “He fought a smart fight and a good fight. I give him all the credit in the world. It was his night tonight.”
Gatti concurred. “I was in great shape tonight,” he said. “I used my legs to stay in front of him. I boxed the way I was supposed to box in the first fight.”
The 30-year-old’s reluctance to mix it up with Ward dashed hopes, for the sold-out and expectant crowd, of a continuation of last spring’s brutal fight at the Mohegan Sun.
Ward won that one on a majority points decision, after decking and nearly stopping Gatti with a left hook to the liver in the ninth round. Gatti returned the favor this time around, subjecting Ward to a rare knockdown 40 seconds into the third round and attempting to score a TKO with a strong rally that the hardened Irish American survived.
Gatti, whose quicker feet and hands were evident from the first round, caught his man coming in with a right to the side of the head. Ward went crashing headfirst into Gatti’s corner, and although he was up in a flash, he remained on wobbly legs. Suddenly, the fight the public had been expecting broke out.
Gatti jumped in for the kill, unleashing a fusillade of shots in a bid to finish off Ward. Caught between the ropes and Gatti’s corner, Ward absorbed the beating while firing back.
Another right hook staggered him, but by then the younger man had punched himself out. Ward then came to life. He began his comeback with a right hook to the jaw that caught Gatti’s attention.
Several shots to the body, including his patent left hook to the liver, set up a blazing left hook that Gatti took well. They ended the round exchanging power shots the way they did in their first fight.
Gatti was seemingly the worse for wear the next round, Ward’s most successful, in terms of imposing his slugging style on his foe. The Lowell, Mass., resident’s effort would later show on Gatti’s left eye, which was severely marked up.
Ward, however, was back to following the once-again elusive Gatti around the ring while eating left jabs and quick one-twos from the fifth round onward. Gatti’s edge in hand speed, in particular, made it a daunting night for Ward, who was consistently beaten to the punch.
It wasn’t until the ninth round that Ward was able to land anything of note, a big right that raised hopes for Ward fans. But once Gatti had shaken it off, he continued his dominance.
The mutual respect between the two fighters was illustrated by the hug they exchanged before the start of 10th and final stanza. They then proceeded to close the show with a fistic shoot-out that had the crowd roaring.
Said Gatti, who upped his record to 35-6: “There are not too many guys like Micky Ward around. He’s a real tough guy.” He described Ward as having the “heart of a lion” and indicated his interest in a third meeting, if it can be made.
Ward, who’s been fighting professionally for 17 years, talked of two more bouts before hanging up his gloves. He was also agreeable to a rubber match with Gatti.

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