Thursday, February 02, 2006
It's been a good time to be a fight fan of late, hasn't it? There's been quite a few good fights in this young year, as 2006 is shaping up to be a pretty great year. Especially if the fighters from the past two weekends make another appearance, as they are the rarest of commodities: guaranteed action fights.
First, the mega-fight of the year took place two weeks ago, when Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales met for the second time in Las Vegas. The first one was one of the fights of the year candidates, and a rematch has been much anticipated. It showed in the sell-out Vegas crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center, which was split between fans of both fighters, heroes in their home countries.
I'm not sure how well-known these two names are outside of the hardcore boxing fandom, but they should be well-known. They are two of the best fighters pound for pound in the world, warriors who have dominated the lower weight classes in boxing for years now. Morales is most famous for wonderful trilogy of fights he had against fellow Mexican, Marco Antonio Barrero a few years ago. Pacquiao is Filipino fighter and hero in his country, a small lefty with tremendous power.
Go here, here, here and here for a good description of the fight. I'll just say that the power of Manny is stunning, and makes him a candidate for the best pound for pound honors. He was dominant this fight, avenging his earlier loss. Morales is tough, so for him to get TKO'd is something. I think that Morales needs to consider calling it a career, as this fight should prove that he has been eclipsed in the fight game by a younger, more talented fighter. For Pacquiao, the sky's the limit. I really look forward to see what he does next, as he makes his claim to share the title of this blog.
It's a sign of what high regard I hold Arturo Gatti that I put these two fights on equal footing. He is a once in a lifetime fighter, a man who gives the fans their money's worth each and every time out. He had already achieved a special status before his legendary series of fights versus Mickey Ward. These three fights were epic in every sense of the word, fought by two warriors with skill and guts, unafraid of losing but dying to win. I still think back on those fights, especially when sitting through some talentless heavyweight fight or an unaction fight between two stars afraid to get hit or throw a punch.
Gatti was taking on a relatively unknown Danish fighter named Thomas Damgaard this past Saturday. It was everything I could have hoped for, as Gatti slowly but surely decimated Damgaard, exhibiting the skills that have raised his game a few notches since he took on Buddy McGirt as trainer. This wasn't a classic, but it was another must-see Gatti fight, lots of action, lots of punches. The arc of his career is amazing, in all honesty, as he went from being a brawler as a young man to a skilled, technical fighter as an older one. He looked great tonight, in spite of hurting his right hand in the third or fourth round. He hit Damgaard with power punch after power punch, bloodying and staggering the guy all night. He ended Damgaard's night with a nice flurry in the 11th round, winning the IBA welterweight title in the process.
LP talks about his favorite fighter, Arturo "Thunder" Gatti. No Holds Barred discusses Vince Lombardi in the context of Gatti. The Boxing Stop discussed its hero. Late Rounds looks at the fight and adds some thoughts.
Not sure what the future holds for Gatti, although I hope that he gets another big money fight and can hang'em up while he is still revered and healthy-ish.