As we posthumously wish the great Arturo Gatti a happy 52nd birthday, one of the men “Thunder” went to war with during his enormously thrilling career is also thinking about Arturo. Gatti, who twice fought Ivan Robinson in scintillating action affairs, was twice beaten by the man from Philadelphia; Robinson the only fighter to hold the distinction.

Robinson decisioned Gatti over ten rounds in August and then December of 1998. The first fight was The Fight of The Year. The rematch saw Robinson come close to stopping Gatti. Today, at age 53 and with some fine career to look back on with pride, Robinson says Gatti was “my brother,” and that he never, ever thought he would actually fight him.

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Gatti as we know, passed away in July of 2009, this at age 37. The tragedy of his early death still hits home whenever we think about Gatti and the sheer excitement he gave us. Robinson is no different, and as he said when recently speaking with Slater’s Boxing YouTube channel, Gatti holds a special place in his heart.

“Arturo Gatti was a warrior, I love him to this day. That’s my brother,” Robinson said. “Even though I don’t think I really get the credit, I’m pleased when people remember and they say Ivan Robinson and Arturo Gatti were good fights. I’m proud of that. I was a throwback fighter, and Gatti was too. It was just amazing how me and Gatti were in camp with Pernell [Whitaker]. We was in camp with Junior Jones. Me and Gatti never, ever sparred, but it was business. Main Events thought maybe Robinson and Gatti would make a good fight down the line.

“But if you would have asked me, I would have told you no, I would never have fought him, for two reasons: One, that’s my brother. Two, he could never beat me. He hit me with a shot that I will remember until the day I pass away! In the first fight. At the end of the day, I’m proud I gave you guys something that you will remember me for. Everyone already knew who Gatti was, and I got a chance to be on the big stage. That first fight with Gatti was the best fight of my entire career. Honestly, Gatti was one of my hardest guys [to fight]. They [Main Events] begged the hell out of me to take the second fight. I knew I could beat him now, though. But they wanted that second fight so damn bad. And I’m thinking, don’t ask for what you don’t want! I’m always grateful for Gatti for giving me that chance. I was the better boxer and he was the better slugger and a bigger puncher. We made for an exciting fight.”

That’s an understatement. Robinson and Gatti: together, they gave us two of the most fan-friendly and exciting fights of the 1990s.

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