Photo: Ed Mulholland
1. LEONARD DORIN was fighting an idol when he challenged Arturo Gatti for the WBC light-welterweight title on July 24 2004 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. “To me Gatti is a dream,” the transplanted Romanian said through an interpreter. “When I came to Canada and I saw him on TV, all I could think was ‘Wow – look at this great boxer’. He falls but he gets up to win. Gatti will remain an example to follow for many, many years.”
2. GATTI, 32, was two years younger than his opponent but was infinitely more war torn – his 37-6 (28) record decorated with epic barnburners. Dorin, 22-0-1 (8), had not turned professional until he was 28 after spending several years chasing his dream – the Olympic gold. He had come close on two occasions, securing bronze in both the 1992 and 1996 Games.
3. UNDER trainer Buddy McGirt, Gatti had learn to temper his fiery style in recent fights, but following slugfests with Ivan Robinson, Wilson Rodriguez, Gabriel Ruelas, Angel Manfredy and most famously, Micky Ward, many wondered for how much longer “Thunder” would roar.
4. ON the eve of the fight Dorin was spotted walking on the beach, arm-in-arm with his wife. As Boxing News’ Jim Brady reported at the time, it was a pre-fight activity “which would have made old-time trainers cringe.”
5. GATTI entered the ring flanked by bodyguard, Chuck Zito (famous for his altercation with Hollywood action star Jean-Claude Van Damme), and old rival Micky Ward. The crowd cheered wildly for their hero, which was a sharp contrast to the reception the short and chunky Dorin received. When the action began, the challenger, fighting out of a squat, looked much smaller than Gatti and he struggled to make an impact as the champion pinged in shots from range.
6. DORIN’S nose was bleeding in round two. There was some alarm from Gatti’s camp when he grimaced after landing a right uppercut, but he neglected any injury and continued to fire accurately with both arms. The left hook to the body was regularly finding the target, as was slashing one-twos up top. With the round almost over, Gatti curled a powerful left into his rival’s midsection. Dorin slowly pitched forwards onto all fours, and remained there for referee Randy Neumann’s full count.
7. “GOOD punch,” sighed Dorin in broken English afterwards, his smile failing to mask his disappointment. “First time in my life I down. Very strong punch. I try to recover but my legs… [I was thinking] ‘what’s happening now’?”
8. “I WORKED the body for 11 weeks,” said Gatti. “I was using my jab. Buddy told me ‘the body’. Once he went down, I knew he wasn’t getting up. It feels good that I didn’t have to go to the hospital after the fight.”
9. IN his next defence, Gatti dominated veteran Jesse James Leija, who was a surprise victor over ‘can’t miss’ prospect Francisco Bojado on the Arturo-Dorin undercard. It would be Gatti’s final world title victory. He would lose his title to Floyd Mayweather after that, before slowly eroding into retirement. He was killed in 2009.
10. DORIN, heartbroken after his first and only defeat, did not fight again.