MANILA, Philippines – Retired boxer Mickey Ward is happy that the late boxer Arturo Gatti was nominated to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, even as some critics question the deceased fighter’s resume.
Gatti was found dead in Brazil on July 11, 2009, two years after he announced his retirement from the sport. The cause of his death remains unclear, although investigators said in August 2011 that Gatti’s death was a homicide and not a suicide.
Gatti was nominated on his first year of eligibility, immediately sparking debates over whether he deserved to be enshrined in the Hall-of-Fame.
Ward told Tha Boxing Voicethat it was a no-brainer.
“He was a great boxer, he should be in, and he deserves it,” Ward said.
Ward and Gatti fought three memorable battles in 2002 and 2003. Gatti lost the first and won the next two.
Gatti-Ward I and III were named Fights of the Year by the Ring Magazine. Round nine of the first fight was memorable called the “Round of the Century” by HBO’s Emmanuel Steward.
Ward said he is honored that his three fights with Gatti may have contributed to the boxer’s nomination.
“It feels good knowing that I contributed to him hopefully getting in,” he said. “But you know, he had a lot of great fights other than our three fights. I like to consider it the icing on the cake, if you want to call it that.”
“He has had some of the best fights, the best rounds in boxing for that matter, so it should stick because he deserves it,” Ward added. “He was a blood and guts warrior, so I think he deserves it.”
Gatti won titles at super featherweight and light welterweight. He was part of four “Fights of the Year.” He retired with a record of 40 wins and nine losses.