Former boxing champion Arturo Gatti, whose epic trilogy with Micky Ward branded him one of the most exciting fighters of his generation, was found dead in a hotel room in the Brazilian seaside resort of Porto de Galihnas early on Saturday.
Police investigator Edilson Alves said that the body of the former junior welterweight champ was discovered in his room at the tourist resort, where Gatti had arrived on Friday with his Brazilian wife Amanda and his young son.
Alves said police were conducting investigations and it was unclear how the 37-year-old Canadian died.
“It is still too early to say anything concrete, although it is all very strange,” Alves said.
A spokeswoman for the state public safety department said Gatti’s wife and son were unhurt. The woman declined to give a name in keeping with department policy.
“There were no bullet or stab wounds on his body, but police did find blood stains on the floor,” she said.
Gatti captured the junior welterweight title in 1995, when he defeated Tracy Harris Patterson in Atlantic City, New Jersey. His brawling style and natural charisma made him a fan favorite, and he became one of New Jersey’s adopted sons while fighting some of his most memorable battles on the Boardwalk.
Gatti defended his title three times before moving up in weight and getting stopped by Angel Manfredy in 1997. He lost twice more before running off four straight wins, setting up a fight against Oscar De La Hoya.
Although Gatti was knocked out his almost cult-like following never wavered in its support.
Gatti would later lose to big names like Floyd Mayweather J. and Carlos Baldomir, but it was his fights against Ward that left an indelible impression on fight fans.
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The first time they met, in May 2002, Ward earned the decision in what Ring Magazine called the “Fight of the Year.”
In the rematch Gatti knocked Ward down in the third round with a big right. Ward not only recovered from the blow, which broke Gatti’s hand, but managed to go the distance. This time, Gatti earned a unanimous decision.
Gatti and Ward had their final match in June 2003, and it was again called “Fight of the Year” by Ring Magazine. Ward knocked Gatti to the floor in the sixth round, but despite fighting with his right hand broken again, Gatti won the decision.