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Friday, January 27, 2006
So when a chipper and smiling Gatti stood around Wednesday at yet another pre-fight press conference, this time at Mickey Mantle’s restaurant on Central Park South in Manhattan, and answered every question of every reporter from every type of media outlet, posed for photographs before cameras from all around the world, and signed autographs on everything from boxing gloves to notebooks, it was a welcome change for all.
The reason was not hard to uncover, although we did let both Gatti and his sagacious trainer Buddy McGirt explain why in their own words: When Gatti fights next, this Sat., Jan. 28, against undefeated Thomas Damgaard (37-0, 27 KOs) of Denmark at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, this fight will be contested at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, the first time in five years Gatti has fought at that high a weight. His constant battle to cut weight was becoming more and more difficult for him, and now he was freed of that obstacle.
Another reason is that Damgaard, while undefeated, is best known in the U.S. for pulling out of two fights with then-WBA welterweight champ Jose Antonio Rivera because of reported injuries. All of Damgaard’s 37 fights have been in his native Denmark, and the list of his opponents will not bring many looks of recognition to many boxing fans.
We thus got a chance to speak with Arturo Gatti and Buddy McGirt about what to expect this Saturday night. And we also asked Arturo about his many female fans, including our blog friend Blonde.
We also spoke with Gatti’s friend and esteemed member of his entourage, actor Chuck Zito, perhaps best known for his work on HBO’s “Oz.”
While the press conference was going on, Damgaard was reportedly still in New Jersey, completing his pre-fight medical tests, so he was unavailable for interviews.
But we did get a chance to speak with another fellow Danish fighter who was on hand, undefeated WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (37-0, 28 KOs), along with his rep, the loquacious Mike Marley. Kessler was in town to meet with the suits at both HBO and Showtime in hopes of landing a deal for him to fight the winner of the partial title unification fight between WBO champ Joe Calzaghe and IBF champ Jeff Lacy, which takes place March 4 in Manchester, England.
While on paper Kessler’s record appears similar to Damgaard’s, four of Kessler’s last five fights and, of course, victories, have been against one-time world champions and highly ranked fighters: Julio Cesar Green, Manny Siaca, Anthony Mundine, and Eric Lucas. Hopefully the American networks will provide an opportunity for this deserving boxer as well as take a step to start to unify the belts in this division.
You can listen to all these interviews for free. You only need to be able to play MP3 audio files, so please wait a moment for them to download.
To listen to the Arturo Gatti interview, click here or here or here.
To listen to the Buddy McGirt interview, click here or here or here.
To listen to the Chuck Zito interview, click here or here or here.
To listen to the Mikkel Kessler interview, click here or here or here.
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