Baldomir – Gatti: A blue collar battle on the Boardwalk
As the true welterweight world champion Argentinean Carlos Baldomir climbs into the ring to face Arturo Gatti, several of the thousands in attendance will have only one idea in mind: His dominant win over Zab Judah was a fluke and he is ripe for a Gatti return to prominence.
Charitably speaking, Baldomir entered his bout with Judah an underdog. In reality he was given almost no chance at victory and was to serve only as a tune-up for a Judah – Floyd Mayweather megafight.
At first blush, his 41-9-6 (12 KOs) record indicated possible journeyman status. Add to his low knockout percentage the fact that many of his losses were in Argentina and almost no one expected his 42nd victory would come over a super-skilled “Super” Zab.
A more detailed look at his record reveals that he is undefeated in his last 20 bouts and he has won in not only in Argentina, but the in the United States, Italy, Denmark, Germany, and England, and a scored a draw in Mexico. Winning internationally is especially difficult – promoters don’t bring foreign fighters in to beat hometown heroes.
Baldomir has also demonstrated a solid chin, having been stopped only once in 57 bouts (in his 7th fight). Judah had proven power and he did not dent Baldomir’s stiff chin.
Many in attendance in Boardwalk Hall will not have delved too deeply into Baldomir’s full record. Many won’t see his win over Judah as anything more than a win over an under-prepared champion. Many will see this as Gatti’s best chance at gaining a belt once more.
Always the crowd favorite in Atlantic City, Gatti is likely to enter the ring a betting favorite despite his recent record. His fans, and many of the boxing media, are seemingly so relieved that he is able to get a title shot avoiding a second sure disaster against Floyd Mayweather (the world’s best welterweight – but not the true champion), that they see Baldomir as easy pickings.
Gatti did in fact perform well in his last bout, in his most recent venture into the welterweight division against the previously undefeated, but clearly limited, Thomas Damgaard. He dominated the bout before stopping the Dane in the 11th round.
Indeed, since his trilogy with Mickey Ward, he decisioned the previously undefeated Gianluca Branco and knocked out undefeated Leonard Dorin as well as veteran Jesse James Leija in defense of his junior welterweight title.
Unfortunately that series of fights led to his meeting with Mayweather. Gatti did not win one second of one round as the great Mayweather pounded him without mercy. The veteran of many ring wars appeared as if he was fighting underwater against the fighter now widely seen as the world’s best pound-for-pound.
Many questions remain from that bout: Was Gatti’s loss indicative of an overall decline in his abilities? Was the struggle to make the 140 pound limit a possible culprit? Is Mayweather simply so good that we cannot make an assessment of Gatti’s remaining skills?
Of course the prime question is obvious: Have Gatti’s handlers found a golden opportunity to have their cash cow reap a title that was gained by Baldomir when an unfocused Zab Judah was looking forward to the riches of a bout with Mayweather?
PREDICTION: Gatti is always prepared and he will not overlook Baldomir, despite the fact that many of his followers think it will be an easy night. Gatti’s boxing ability against the plodding Baldomir will play a greater role in his game plan than punching power, which he has never proven at 147 pounds. Baldomir, though not especially fast or hard-hitting is a solid body-puncher and will press from the opening bell. He will be hit early and often but he will continue to apply pressure throughout. The scar tissue over Gatti’s eyes may prove vulnerable to Baldomir’s constant attack and there will be no let up if cuts develop. Expect a fast start by Gatti and a fade starting in the middle rounds as the naturally bigger and stronger Baldomir begins to land the harder, and more plentiful shots down the stretch. After this fight, American fight fans will know Baldomir, who like Gatti is a well-traveled blue-collar veteran, has finally come into his own at the end of a once-obscure career.
Baldomir by decision.