Boxing


Gatti-Leija: A Tale of Two Sluggers

28.01.05 - By Chris Ireland - ThunderGatti88@aol.com - Arturo Gatti attracts fans from every sport. Baseball fans get to see a slugger NOT on steroids, golf fans witness a man who swings more than Tiger Woods, and football fans get the rare opportunity to see more cuts than in a Barry Sanders run. Indeed, "Thunder" has become the supremely talented jr. welterweight division's golden goose despite six losses, advancing age, and nagging injuries.. Gatti is coming off perhaps the best performance of his career, a second round knockout over undefeated former lightweight champion Leonard Dorin on July 24th of last year. Now Arturo is positioning himself for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather later this year. For Gatti, it is the best of times.

Jesse James Leija only attracts fans from boxing. His name doesn't sell tickets, but those who watch him, enjoy him. Why? He's a slugger NOT on steroids, he swings more than Tiger Woods, and yes, he cuts more than Barry Sanders. But indeed, Leija is far from a big moneymaker, largely because of six losses, advancing age, and nagging injuries. Leija is coming off perhaps the best performance of his career, a decision victory over prospect Francisco "Panchito" Bojado on July 24th of last year. Now Jesse has positioned himself for a shot at Arturo Gatti. For Leija, it is the best of times.

Arturo Gatti is a former lightweight champion, and current WBC jr. welterweight champion. He's been in the ring with Gabe Ruelas, Oscar De La Hoya, Ivan Robinson, and Micky Ward. A few years ago, most boxing fans thought Arturo was done. Now fighting at an age that nobody thought he could make it to, Gatti has reemerged into title contention. A win Saturday night will mean big paydays down the road for Gatti, but a loss means possible retirement.

Jesse James Leija is a former jr. lightweight and lightweight champion. He's been in the ring with Gabe Ruelas, Oscar De La Hoya, Ivan Robinson, and Micky Ward. A few years ago, most boxing fans thought Jesse was done. Now fighting at an age nobody thought he could make it to, Leija has reemerged into title contention. A win Saturday night will mean big paydays down the road for Leija, but a loss means possible retirement.

In order for Arturo Gatti to win, he will have to use his size, power, and reach advantages to control the smaller Leija. He is favored to win the fight, as is the usual circumstance with Gatti. But no matter what the odds are, any fight featuring this pugilistic super hero is a showcase of Shakespearean drama, and a virtual pick em' fight. The unexpected is to be expected. Injuries, quick knockouts, remarkable comebacks and cuts are par for the course. Perhaps the countless ring wars Gatti has been in will finally catch up with him Saturday. In any event, he's sure to give it his all.

In order for Jessie James Leija to win, he must pressure the cut-prone and injury-plagued Gatti to abandoned his renewed boxing skill. Leija is an underdog in the fight, as is the usual circumstance. But no matter what the odds are, any fight featuring this pugilistic unsung super hero is a showcase of Shakespearean drama, and a virtual pick em' fight. The unexpected is to be expected. Injuries, remarkable comebacks and cuts are par for the course. Perhaps the countless ring wars Leija has endured will finally catch up with him Saturday. In any event, he's sure to give it his all.

Remember fight fans, no matter what the scorecards read, you will be the winner Saturday. Two of boxing's most exciting and stunningly identical fighters are going to go toe-to-toe. It's hard to imagine a fighter exactly like Arturo Gatti, but Jesse James Leija, at 5'5, is Gatti's very own "Minime." If the thought of two Arturo Gatti's fighting in the ring isn't enough to get you pumped, nothing will. The only thing keeping this fight from becoming another sensational episode in the Gatti drama is Arturo's size advantage. One could argue Leija is more like Leonard Dorin than Gatti himself, and that Gatti will quickly knockout the Texan in the early rounds. What's forgotten when presenting this argument is that Leija showed great and determination a few years back when fighting Kostya Tszyu, one of boxing's hardest hitters. It won't be easy to get Leija out of there. The pick here is Gatti by TKO in 8 bloody, hard-fought rounds.

Article posted on 28.01.2005



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