Arturo Gatti nearly killed Joey Gamache in the ring: Should weigh-ins happen on fight day? (Video)Written by Leroy Cleveland
Arturo Gatti KO 2 Joey Gamache
February 26, 2000
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Referee: Benjy Esteves Jr.
Division: (Well, it depends)
Catchweight: 141 lbs
Gatti vs Gamache Facts & Stats
- Arturo Gatti (30-4) vs Joey Gamache (55-3)
- The popular Arturo Gatti was very unpopular on this night. He'd gained a mind-blowing 19 lbs since the weigh-in a day prior which resulted in a sizable weight disparity between him and his opponent, Joey Gamache.
- On fight night, HBO recorded Gamache at 145 lbs while Gatti was 160; A welterweight versus a middleweight.
- The weigh-in, itself, was also controversial as some believe the scales may have been tweaked for Gatti, enabling him to weigh-in a pound or two above the contracted catchweight of 141 lbs
- Looking much larger and stronger than his foe, Gatti brutally knocked out Gamache in less than two rounds, sending him crashing to the canvas in an unconscious state
- Not only did Gamache's boxing career come to an abrupt halt, his life would be forever changed
- Gamache, who almost died in the hospital that night, received permanent brain damage
- As of 2009 (nine years after the bout) according to NY Daily News, Gamache suffered from intense migraines and depression, had difficulty staying employed and took numerous medications to quell the pain and depression.
- A mismatch? On paper, this was a solid match-up. Gamache was also a former world champion and entered the bout having won 55 of 58 pro bouts, registering 38 knockouts along the way. He was on a 10-fight win streak and was clearly not a weak opponent.
Official weigh-ins occur the day before a bout, enabling fighters to rehydrate to their actual weight in the 28-32 hours leading up to the bout.
Some fighters, like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, have the process down to a science. While campaigning at middleweight (160 lb limit), Chavez would usually tip the scales at roughly 159 lbs at the weigh-in only to enter the ring the next day at a blistering 181 lbs. Most of his opponents hovered around 164-167 lbs.
Point: Obviously, size factors into the competitiveness of a bout. Size and strength do matter. Gamache was being hit by a naturally bigger, stronger man and that may have been the prime factor in causing this near-tragedy.
Counterpoint: Boxing is a brutal sport and serious injury is part of the game. Serious injury and, sadly, ring deaths, occur when fighters enter the ring within only a pound or several ounces apart from each other.
Moreover, some heavyweights, like Evander Holyfield, routinely gave up 30-40 lbs in the ring and suffered no apparent, serious ill-effects. As a matter of fact, Holyfield was often very successful against much larger opponents. (Are the circumstances different when a 205 lb fighter faces a 240 lb opponent?)
Solution 1: Weigh-ins should take place the morning of the bout, thereby greatly limiting a fighter's ability to rehydrate. (Keep in mind, some would argue this would be even more dangerous because a fighter may enter the ring already dehydrated from having to cut weight for the weigh-in)
Solution 2: Perhaps there should be a rehydration limit? For example, a middleweight (160 lb limit) shouldn't be allowed to rehydrate more than 10 pounds (170 lbs).
Solution 3: This is much ado about nothing. Keep things as they are.
Solution 4: Share your thoughts.