Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Baldomir shocks favored Gatti

TAKE THAT They said he didn't have the punching power, but WBC champ Carlos Baldomir defied both Arturo Gatti and the critics in Atlantic City on Saturday

AP , ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY

Carlos Baldomir, left, of Santa Fe, Argentina, celebrates his knockout of Arturo Gatti of Jersey City, New Jersey, after referee Wayne Hedgepeth stopped the fight at 2:50 in the ninth round of their WBC Welterweight Championship fight at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Carlos Baldomir of Argentina knocked out Arturo Gatti in the ninth round on Saturday to retain his WBC welterweight title.

Baldomir (43-9-6), fighting for the first time since stunning Zab Judah on Jan. 7 to win the WBC belt, sent Canadian-born Gatti to the canvas twice in the final round after hemming him in on the ropes and pummeling him with a flurry of punches.

Criticized for not having the punching power to handle Gatti's street-brawling style, Baldomir tattooed him with a steady stream of punches that culminated in a ninth-round knockout on Saturday night in Baldomir's first defense of his WBC welterweight title.

The Argentine journeyman silenced a sellout crowd that had come to see Gatti, one of Atlantic City's most popular fighters, but the Jersey City resident was outclassed from the start.

Afterward, Gatti (40-8) didn't take questions from reporters but said, "I don't know if I'm ever going to fight again. I had a good time doing it."

Gatti had said in January that he would have retired if he had lost to unbeaten Dane Thomas Damgaard. But his performance in beating Damgaard and his desire to win a belt in a third weight class -- he won the IBF junior lightweight title in 1995 and the WBC junior welterweight belt two years ago -- changed his mind.

Baldomir pummeled Gatti through the first five rounds and sent him to the canvas twice in the final round after hemming him in on the ropes and savaging him with a flurry of punches.

By midway through the fight, Gotti had cuts on his lip and under his right eye, and by the middle of the fifth round, appeared dazed.

"I did say that I was a stronger puncher than Gatti before the fight and I could tell in the first two or three rounds that I was," Baldomir said. "The punches Gatti was throwing didn't hurt me at all. When he put his left hand down, I just knew I could hit him with the right."

Gatti rallied in the middle rounds and appeared to have gotten a foothold in the fight until the ninth round, although he was trailing on all three judges' cards through eight rounds.

"I tried to box him," Gatti said. "He's just very strong, and he was getting stronger as the fight went on. He had my style down. He's a strong guy. I guess I just tried too hard to knock him out early."

Baldomir held an edge in punches landed with 267 of 562 (48 percent) compared to 36 percent (161-of-445) for Gatti.

The sellout crowd of 12,763 left no doubt as to who it was favoring, chanting "Ga-tti! Ga-tti!" when the challenger entered the arena and loudly booing Baldomir when he was introduced.

Both fighters wasted little time measuring each other after the opening bell. Gatti landed an overhand left and a left hook to Baldomir's face, but also absorbed several hard shots.

At times Gatti alternated between right and left-handed stances, a strategy he used effectively in his win in January against Damgaard. But as the fight wore on, he largely abandoned the ploy.

Baldomir began to gain the upper hand in the third round as he landed first two left hooks and then two hard rights followed by a combination. The round ended with Baldomir again catching Gatti with a combination of head and body punches.

Midway through the round Baldomir even appeared to taunt Gatti, pointing to his stomach as if to challenge Gatti to hit him there.

On the undercard, Dominican-born Giovanni Lorenzo (21-0) remained undefeated when he stopped Canada's Bryon Mackie.

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