Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More on Gatti, Arguello

Boxing suffers two sad losses

It's been a sad few weeks for the sport of boxing, not because of what has happened inside the ring, but rather what has happened outside of the ring.
Two deaths of former ring legends have forced many fans and ring historians to remember the lives of Arturo Gatti and Alexis Arguello much too soon.
Gatti was the younger man and was a champion in the late 90s and into the 2000s. He will always be remembered for his risky style in the ring, his unbelievable comeback wins and a willingness to take on anyone.
How could one forget his memorable win against Wilson Rodrgiuez in March of 1996. Behind on two scorecards and with one eye completely shut, he rebounded to stop Rodriguez to retain his super featherweight title. He also had three brutal fights with Micky Ward, a rough and tumble affair with Gabriel Ruelas and a pair of close fights with Ivan Robinson.
Gatti was one of the sport's great attractions. He wasn't perfect, he lost 9 of 49 fights, but his great heart in the ring allowed for a cult following of sorts among fans. He was very popular in the New Jersey/New York area and when he fought on television.
There is no doubt that Gatti was a throwback type of fighter, kind of like a Rocky Graziano or Bobby Chacon.
The only sad part of the Gatti's career was how it ended, a seventh-round stoppage to the non-descript Alfonso Gomez in 2007. But Gatti knew it was time to quit boxing and he did. Sadly, his life came to an abrupt and sad end and we never knew what kind of successful life he would have had after boxing.
Gatti wasn't perfect in the ring, but he gave boxing fans and heck even sports fans some of the greatest moments in sports. Boxing is often built around the savagery of what two gladiators do in the ring and he was the epitome of savagery and doing what it took to win.
Meanwhile, Nicaragua's Alexis Arguello was a true champion and one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the boxing canvas. A winner of 82 of his 90 fights, Arguello was an artist of sorts in dominating the junior lightweight and lightweight divisions. He had power, 65 knockouts, and he displayed great boxing skills as well in his career.
He too was involved in some of boxing's greatest moments. It's funny, but he might be more known for his two losses to Aaron Pryor than any other fights. In the two classics, fought with Pryor in the early 1980s, it was give and take both ways and with some luck and maybe if he was just a tad younger, he may have won both of those fights instead of winding up with losses. In addition, he had great fights with Chacon, Ray Mancini and Ruben Olivares among others.
Arguello was a man of great will and a gentleman as well. I was fortunate to meet him at a fight card in Albuquerque several years ago and he was gracious with his time and stories.
A champion in three weight classes, Arguello will always be one of the top fighters off all-time in my book. Arguello was a great tactician and was simply a marvel to watch and he was a great inspiration to Hispanic fighters.
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On July 31 in Las Cruces, George Foreman III, the son of former heavyweight champ George Foreman, fights his second career fight. Foreman III is 1-0 and obviously has a long way to go before even coming close to being compared to his father. But it should be interesting watching the younger Foreman fight if for nostalgic purposes only.
The older Foreman was a ferocious puncher and was one of the great heavyweights of all-time. I've never seen the younger Foreman fight, but it will be interesting to see if he carries any of the skill level and temperament that his father had.