The Flashback Friday fight this week dates back to 2002 when Micky Ward and Arturo “Thunder” Gatti produced one of the greatest, most brutal bouts of all time.
The fight was awarded The Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year accolade, however, this bout should be recognised as more than that; it should be appreciated as one of the best fights of all time.
Coming into the fight, both men had solidified their reputation as brawlers, but it was clear from the outset that Gatti was the superior boxer.
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Round one was won comfortably by Gatti. The Canadian-Italian landed his jab consistently and moved in a slick manner which meant Ward, the come forward power puncher, struggled to land any notable shots.
The next round followed much the same style, Gatti’s superior speed was making it very difficult for Ward to set himself and land any power punches. However, despite Gatti’s superior punch output, Ward was still moving forward and showed absolutely no signs that he was hurt.
The third round was the first time in the fight where Ward landed his signature left hook to the body. Gatti was still landing the more powerful blows in the round, which included a few huge right uppercuts. However, Ward was slowly started to establish himself in the fight.
Stats provided by CompuBox showed that the two fighters landed 53 power punches between them in the third round - Gatti 30, Ward 23. The fourth was a more even round, yet it was still going Gatti’s way, despite a few nice right handers from Ward. That was, however, until Gatti dropped Ward with a left hook below the belt. The referee spotted it. Gatti lost the round 10-8.
By the fifth, the strength of both men’s chins was being tested. In particular, that of Ward’s. Gatti landed a flurry of shots to the chin of Ward, which, somehow, didn’t seem to affect the Lowell-born man. Ward then proceeded to land a huge barrage of power punches at the end of the round which hurt Gatti.
In the fifth round, 88 of the 98 blows that were landed were power punches, an astonishing 90%. For the sixth and seventh, Gatti went back to boxing in a more smart style. He moved well, used his jab more often and managed to land a number of eye-catching combinations.
Ward explodes into life
The eighth, Gatti seemed to be winning the opening stages of the round until Ward exploded into life. In the final 15 seconds, Ward landed some huge blows to Gatti’s head and body, and it meant that he did just enough to take the round.
There are no words that can do the ninth round any justice, simply not enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe the bravery that both men showed throughout, arguably, the most hellacious three minutes in boxing history. Ward got the upper hand towards the end of the round and it was a miracle how Gatti was still standing.
In the ninth, the two warriors landed 102 power punches between them - Gatti 42, Ward 60. And as the bout moved into the tenth, Gatti did the better of the work in the final round, which included a toe to toe sequence where both men landed a vast number of punches on each other’s chin. What a fight, and an incredible advert for boxing.
Official judges: 94-94, 94-93, 95-93 to Ward.