Gatti/Ward rematch on Saturday night

Nov. 22, 2002 at 8:53 AM
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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The sequel between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward will be held Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

On May 18, Ward recorded a ninth-round knockdown and came away with a majority decision over Gatti in one of the best fights in the past few years.

Before the first meeting in Uncasville, Conn., Gatti (34-6, 28 KOs) spoke about becoming more of a boxer as he was being trained by former world champion Buddy McGirt.

Shortly into that bout, that game plan was revised and Gatti, 30, reverted to his brawling style, which is similar to that of the fictional Rocky Balboa.

"Micky Ward is a warrior," said Gatti in a September press conference in Boston. "I'm fighting a guy like me. He's a great fighter. I want to thank Ward's camp for giving me this opportunity. I felt our first fight I could have won. I am going to win on Nov. 23."

Ward, 37, (38-11, 27 KOs), like Gatti, is used to trading punches at a furious pace. He has a lot of losses, but has been stopped only once in a career that began in 1985.

"It's going to be a great fight again," he said. "Styles make fights. We have the same styles and neither of us wants to go backwards. Win or lose, we'll fight like men. I'm going to get in the best condition. Arturo thinks he's going to win, and I'm confident that I'm going to win. When it's over, I'm not going to lose."

The Lowell, Mass., native will not have the crowd support he had in the first meeting. Gatti originally is from Montreal, but moved to Jersey City, a 2 1/2-hour drive from Atlantic City, in 1991.

Ward is used to fighting in hostile territory, though, losing a five-round TKO to "Jesse" James Leija in San Antonio on Jan. 5.

Leija, who will meet undisputed super lightweight champion Kostya Tsyzu in the first big bout of 2003, won after the referee ruled that a cut above his eye resulted from a head butt. Replays showed Leija's cut actually was the result of a punch.

Gatti is fighting in Atlantic City for the first time since 1998, when he lost consecutive bouts to Ivan Robinson. In the first, Robinson won a controversial split decision in what many considered the best fight of 1998.

The Gatti-Ward rematch is a sellout.

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