An argument can be made that the essence of boxing has always been summed up in three words: Gatti vs. Ward.
The Arturo “Thunder” Gatti and “Irish” Micky Ward trilogy, perhaps the most entertaining, if not greatest saga in boxing history, was captured in a very insightful way by HBO in its documentary “Legendary Nights: The Tale of Gatti-Ward."
The Gatti-Ward trilogy, fought in a 13-month span in 2002 and 2003, brought the sport back to its roots. Neither fighter is considered an all-time great, but both proved that confidence, hard work and determination can bring you a long way.
Guest analysis and commentary from Ward, the referees from all three fights Frank Cappuccino and Earl Morton, promoters Lou DiBella and Kathy Duva and HBO play-by-play man Jim Lampley were honest, blunt and on point.
Ron Borges, Larry Merchant, Gatti’s former trainer Buddy McGirt and manager Pat Lynch, and Ward’s wife Charlene and brother Dicky Eklund also made heartfelt statements throughout the documentary.
“I think it gave the boxing world [another] respect, the way fighters could treat each other,” Charlene opined of the embrace the boxers shared at the end of their third fight.
The most dramatic segment was arguably the breakdown of the ninth round of the first fight on May 18, 2002. It’s a round considered by many to be one of the greatest in boxing history. Equally dramatic was round 10 of the third fight on June 7, 2003.
There was no storybook ending, however, as the documentary touched on Gatti’s tragic death in 2009, something that still remains a mystery to his family, friends and fans.
With so many of today's promoters, networks and managers at odds with each other, it's doubtful boxing fans will ever see a trilogy like that in the near future, which is why “The Tale of Gatti-Ward” is a must-see.
The documentary is set to premiere after HBO's live boxing coverage Saturday night.