Arturo “Thunder” Gatti (40-7 31 KO’s), “The Human Highlight Reel,” takes center stage at the Atlantic City Boardwalk on July 22, looking for his third welterweight world title.

Only Argentinean Carlos Baldomir (42-9 12 KO’s), the current king, stands in his way. After 15 years and countless wars, how much “blood and guts” does Gatti have left in him?

Since 1998, experts have declared Gatti done. He was bedeviled by Angel Manfredy for eight rounds and stopped on cuts…then was dealt back-to-back losses to feather-fisted Ivan Robinson. His stock tumbled. Compounding that were his bad hands, more cuts, then a remix album. Regardless, the fans clamored to see him bleed, not box.

HBO knows that KO’s sell tickets. Gatti needed some thunder.

In February 2000, he did just that, almost beheading Joey Gamache.

At the weigh-in, Gatti was an eyelash over the 140-pound limit. Little did Gamache know that — come fight night — Gatti had gained twenty pounds! With a six-inch reach and one-and-a-half-inch height advantage, it was Primo Carnera against Pernell Whitaker.

From the opening bell, Gamache danced – a deer in a hunter’s scope. He was no match for Gatti; Gatti’s combinations were like wrecking balls. Gamache wobbled with every blow and was floored twice in the first three minutes. He survived the round, but the worst was yet to come.

By round two, he had no hope; his punches were ping-pong balls coming off a destroyer. Gatti uncorked a left hook that sent Gamache reeling backwards. TIM-BER! A sizzling right upper cut disconnected Gamache’s brain from his body. He crashed to the canvas – lifeless for seven minutes. That’s thunderstruck!

Carlos Baldomir’s is a Cinderella story. From 1993-2002, most of his bouts were south of the equator. Occasionally, he flew elsewhere to swat flies, but paydays in Argentina were good enough for him to stay at home. He stayed below the radar until 2002.

For the next four years, he fought his way to contender status. Then came the fateful day in January against former WBC champion, “Super” Zab Judah. The odds were against him. Judah was in his own backyard, The Garden -- all the “Judahmaniacs” were in the house. Plus, Baldomir had only 12 KO’s and the grace of a bull in a Mikasa warehouse.

Cake for a mover like Judah. Baldomir swarmed him every second. Armstrong would’ve been proud.

But forget Judah’s skill and speed — they meant nothing. Baldomir’s determination won the match. It’s the kind of pressure that breaks fighters. Imagine what awaits Gatti.

So what does “Thunder” do to derail Baldomir? He needs to get his respect early – put it on him!

Baldomir probably developed his style due to his reach (6’7”). He won’t be an effective boxer; he needs to keep coming forward, keeping the fight at close range. An inside fight favors the guy with the short arms. If he keeps pressuring Gatti, he’ll make him quit.

There’s a lot at stake for both – big paydays against Hatton or Mayweather.

In a barn-burner, Baldomir’s the obvious choice.

It is sure to be a good fight, but links to commercial sites are against forum rules.

Edited by Cord (05/23/06 02:54 PM)