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‘The Crucible'
Crackpot Mailbox: Big Ron’s Fight Pick #1: Gatti vs Ward 1
© 2019 James LaFond
Big Ron will be asking me to review various bouts from a technical perspective.
Hand span will tell you who the slow fighter is. Ward has to keep his hands close since there is such a marked speed advantage by Gatti, which makes Ward even slower as he has farther to punch.
The low guard of Gatti is his adjustment to that disparity. When he fought De Layhoya and Mayweather, he tried a high guard and still got torched due to the same speed disparity.
Gatti has superior speed, rhythm, reach, size, and power.
Ward has will.
Skill is even, despite what the announcers say.
Ward has very good technique and does everything for a reason.
Look at the difference in shoulder structure between these guys. Gatti is a beast and the bitch about speed is, is that much of it, maybe 50%, of it, comes from strength, so when he is faster than you he is usually stronger as well.
Rounds 1 and 3 see Gatti following trainer Buddy McGirt’s game plan and boxing the ears off of Ward.
Round 3 devolves into a slugfest when Ward finally catches up to Gatti, who hits harder and has just as much heart.
Round 4 features a low blow that would have ended it on the street—Gatti hooking you in the balls hurts the toughest man in boxing even when he is wearing a shock absorbing groin guard.
Round 5 Ward surges, depending more on his often underused right hand to track Gatti into his wheelhouse so he can employ his trademark left shovel hook. Note that Gatti throws the classic Philly, thumb up hook, which is suited to his cannonball shoulders and big biceps. Ward has a thinner build so uses hip and leg punches. Beginning chopping with the right hand like Ward did facilitates a rangier right later in the fight by not chasing your man out onto the end of your punch. Ward’s few jabs are necessitated by Gatti’s savage punching power, with Ward exposing his body when he jabs.
Round 6 sees Ward using the forearm and wing block on the inside.
Between rounds McGirt gives a cornering clinic, but it is for naught as his man is too heroic to take the advice for long.
Round 7 Ward used an extended right hand wing block and Gatti is blatantly measuring with his lead, indexing the target with a still pushing glove. The level of sportsmanship was magnificent. Ward crashes a left elbow to the body.
Round 8 Gatti is splitting Ward’s gloves with up jabs and sneaky jabs, the perfect method to take apart a crowding fighter. Ward uses a long body jab to bridge distance and switches to southpaw to avoid Gatti’s right to the body, scoring a late uppercut and Ward savages Gatti. Body punching to a level of effect that would drop most elite boxers inside 2 rounds was a regular feature of this fight and led to this brutal exchange and the next round.
Round 9: Ward knocked down Gatti with a shovel hook to the body and the men battle relentlessly. This was the best round in boxing history, the “round of the century” according to Emanuel Steward
Round 10: Gatti comes back heroically after finishing the 9th round in great distress. The last two rounds actually saw punch exchanges where punches were being punched and this may have caused Ward’s elbow injury, which swelled noticeably at the end of the bout.
Decision majority 94-94, 94-93, 95-93 W
Ward, who seriously injured his right elbow in a fight that could have gone either way.
Gatti said, “For a guy don’t move a lot he got a good defense.”
Ward retorted, “He’s like granite.”
I had been very sick and down in the dumps until I was uplifted by seeing this magnificent fight.
RIP Arturo Gatti.
Thanks, Big Ron.
Written on October 24.
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