OSCAR DE LA HOYA put the demons of his close defeat to rival Shane Mosley in his last bout behind him as he beat down Arturo Gatti in five rounds at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on March 24, 2001.
‘’This was just the start,’’ De La Hoya expressed after the fight as he looked to rebuild his reputation as the biggest star in boxing after suffering recent losses to Mosley and Felix Trinidad.
It was also Oscar’s first fight under the charge of new trainer Floyd Mayweather Snr.
Former IBF super-featherweight titlist Gatti struggled to cope with his taller, rangier, hard-hitting Los Angeles foe.
With 12 seconds left of the first round, De La Hoya knocked Gatti down with a strong right hand. This seemed to set the tone for the remainder of the contest, as De La Hoya unleashed thunderous combinations, with one causing a cut under Gatti’s right eye.
With Gatti’s wound worsening and the punishment from De La Hoya’s fists continuing to flow, Gatti’s corner stopped the fight in the fifth of a scheduled 12 rounds at welterweight. Time was 1-16.
‘’I never hit him flush,’’ Jersey City’s Gatti said. ‘’But I fought my heart out.”
”If I didn’t stop it, he’d have gotten killed in there,” said Gatti’s trainer Hector Roca. ”Arturo wouldn’t have stopped it himself.”
De La Hoya would move up to super-welter for his next clash, winning the WBC crown from Javier Castillejo.