Was Arturo Gatti the last great Italian boxer?
By Gerardo Granados: I am a big fan of the middleweight Champion Jake LaMotta, his inside the ring fighting style and on times troubled life outside the ring, are impossible for me to not to follow. Maybe there a couple of young fight fans who don’t know him, perhaps the reader is thinking to skip the article, possibly the older fight fans can recall a lot more names of Italian boxers who pleased the crowd with their fan friendly fighting style, but for sure the void left by them in the last years, sooner than later must be fulfill.
Although I rather not give nationalities to any boxer, it is true that a couple of nationalities have produced great fighters thru the years. And the rivalries among the fan bases make fights special to watch. The Puerto Rico versus Mexico boxing rivalry is a tradition in prize fighting.
The biggest and loudest fan bases do have an impact on Pay Per View numbers and can make a boxer become a huge star overnight. When Floyd Mayweather Jr fought Ricky Hatton it was sensational to see the American fans antagonize the United Kingdom fan base.
But, what has happen to the once influential Italian fan base? Why is it now a day we don’t get to see a brave Italian boxer please the crowd? Have young Italians lost interest in becoming prize fighters or is it that Promoters are not scouting correctly? Is the Boxing Industry willing to lose a once big influential fan base? Hey even Rocky Balboa the Italian Stallion has retired.
I will clarify that on this article I refer to as Italian to the Italian born and to the Italian – American. Back in an era in which the Mafia was involved and controlled not only part of prize fighting, there were great Italian boxers who thru the ages gave fight fans epic battles to enjoy.
As the reader knows, I am not a boxing historian but just a savage blood thirsty fight fan, so I might omit the name of one or two fighters. I asked to a friend, who were his favorite Italian boxers and he quickly replied Rocky Marciano. My friend is young and not a hard core fight fan so I urged him to recall another name, so he said “hey the guy on the Raging Bull movie Jake LaMotta”. I reminded him of Arturo Gatti and his face expression was that one of ohh Gatti!
It’s odd but in the last ten years or so there has not been an Italian boxer who continues the legacy from past great Italian fighters. Once there were Willie Pep, Tony Canzoneri, Carmen Basilio, Rocky Graziano, Ray Boom Boom Mancini, Vinny Pazienza and also my favorites Jake La Motta, Rocky Marciano and Arturo Gatti.
It is a strange drought and it’s been a while since the last one took the spotlight on the main events; the late Arturo Gatti retired nine years ago back in July 2007. Well hopefully the next one is near to arrive but, was Arturo Gatti the last great Italian boxer?