If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…

“Irish” Micky Ward has just received the biggest break in his second career as a trainer, a chance to prepare the man he shared 30 brutal rounds with four years ago, Arturo Gatti (40-8, 31 KOs). It has been no secret that the two grew close after staging on of the most storied and fan-approved trilogies in boxing history.  Yet the news does come as a surprise, especially when looking at Ward’s limited resume as a trainer. His most high-profile client to date is Jeff Fraza, a “Contender” contestant and largely unheralded prospect.  Ward’s role in the training may wind up being more conditioning and motivation than jabs and crosses. “At his age, there’s not much I can teach him,” Ward said in an interview with ESPN.com. “But I can get him in great shape and get a great game plan and dissect the guy he’s going to fight.” Ward fills in a role previously held by Buddy McGirt, who broke with Gatti after his defeat at the hands of former welterweight champion Carlos Manuel Baldomir. Gatti did have other options on his hands before choosing Ward.  His promoter, Main Events, has begun to use former champion Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker to train fighters in a camp based in Virginia. While Whitaker was certainly a legend in the ring, his style and background as a lightning-fast, highly skilled boxer do not mesh with Gatti’s talents and current abilities. Gatti and Ward will head down to Florida for camp some time in June, preparing for a fight against former “Contender” star and “UK vs. USA Challenge” competitor Alfonso Gomez (16-3-2, 7 KOs) to be shown live on HBO (July 14), at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Gomez represents the only remaining challenge in Gatti’s career.  He is the last dance, the swan song, the guy Gatti can beat so the AC faithful can see him leave the ring for good with his mind intact and a W on his record.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.