When Arturo Gatti’s name is brought up, the immediate thought that may spring to the minds of many fight fans is his trilogy with Micky Ward. While that is no doubt an iconic rivalry, Gatti’s reputation as an all-action brawler with incredible heart and toughness far preceded the Ward bouts.
On October 4th, 1997 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey (Gatti’s de facto home venue), Gatti defended his IBF super featherweight title against former WBC champion Gabriel Ruelas. This actually wasn’t the night’s main event — Lennox Lewis’ destruction of professional ball-smasher Andrew Golota headlined the card — but it proved to be the war that stole the show.
As expected, it was a war between Gatti and Ruelas, but Ruelas had Gatti in serious trouble towards the end of round four after hurting him with a left uppercut and then an onslaught of shots before the bell rang.
But this is an Arturo Gatti fight, and at his best you could never count him out.
Ruelas was on the attack in round five, trying to corner Arturo and go for the finish. Bad move. A left hook wiped Ruelas out, and Gatti went from massive trouble to celebrating in front of his adoring fans.
Watch video of the highlights at the top of the page.
Ruelas never fought for a major title again, retiring in 2003 with a mark of 49-7 (24 KOs). Gatti retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9 (31 KOs), but sadly he passed away in July of 2009 in Brazil. While some have suspected that he was murdered by his wife Amanda Rodrigues, Brazilian authorities officially ruled Gatti’s death a suicide. A tragic end for one of boxing’s action heroes.