Forgotten Legends: Tracy Harris Patterson

By: Steve Gallegos

To be the son of a legend in boxing has it’s up’s and down’s. Some fighters get opportunities and breaks that they wouldn’t have gotten or don’t deserve because of their famous name. There was however one fighter who created a name for himself by coming up the hard way. That fighter was former two-time champion Tracy Harris Patterson.

Standing at only 5’5 1/2, Patterson was a little big man with excellent skill and power and he was a fan favorite amongst fight fans in the 1990’s. Tracy Harris was born in Grady, AL and his family would later relocate to New York. It was in New Paltz, NY that an 11 year old Tracy Harris would walk into a boxing gym operated by former two-time Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson. Patterson would get down on his knees so that he could work the mitts with young Tracy. Three years later Floyd Patterson would adopt Harris, thus becoming Tracy Harris Patterson.

The former Heavyweight champion guided his son through an outstanding amateur career in which he twice won the New York Golden Gloves championship. He would turn pro in 1985 at the age of 20 and would go 44-2 with 33 KO’s over the next seven years while claiming the North American Boxing Federation Jr. Featherweight title in 1990. Despite his excellent record as well as having his legendary father in his corner, Patterson didn’t get a shot at a world title until his 47th pro bout when he faced the tough Frenchman Thierry Jacob.

They met on 06/23/92 at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, NY and it was for the WBC Super Bantamweight title. Patterson came out throwing bombs in the first round, rocking Jacob and dropping him just before the bell. Jacob got up but was badly hurt. Patterson wasted no time in the second round as he went for the kill, putting Jacob down again, causing referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to stop the bout. Tracy Harris Patterson was finally a world champion and it was the first time that a son of a former champion would claim a world title.

Patterson would get a stiff test in his first title defense 5 1/2 months later when he fought the legendary Daniel Zaragoza of Mexico to a draw. Patterson would successfully defend his title three times over the next year, which included a technical decison win over Zaragoza in a rematch after the fight was stopped in the seventh round due to cuts. It was in his fifth defense of his title that he would suffer his first setback in five years as he dropped a close split decision to Hector Acero-Sanchez.

After the loss to Acero-Sanchez, Patterson made the very difficult decision to cut ties with father Floyd Patterson, who had trained him since he was a teenager. He then hired world class trainer Tommy Parks and after winning his next two bouts, he was back in line for a title shot, this time against undefeated Eddie Hopson.

The two met on 07/09/95 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, NV and it was for the IBF Jr. Lightweight championship. Many were wondering if Patterson had brought his power up to 130 lbs. Patterson would quickly answer that question as he blasted Hopson in two rounds. Just as his legendary father had done before him, Tracy Patterson was now a two-time world champion. The glory would however be short lived.

In his first title defense, Patterson faced a young, determined slugger named Arturo Gatti. They met on 12/15/95 at Madison Square Garden and it was on the undercard of Oscar De La Hoya’s lightweight title defense against Jesse James Leija. Patterson got off to a slow start in this bout and was dropped in the second round by a  right uppercut. Throughout the middle rounds, the fight heated up and turned into a exciting, back and forth slugfest. Patterson would rally late, putting together good combinations while causing both of Gatti’s eyes to swell. Despite a strong finish, Patterson would come up short, losing a unanimous decision.

The fight was one of the most exciting bouts of 1995 and a rematch wasbinevitable. After winning his next three bouts, Patterson would get another crack at Arturo Gatti when they met on 02/22/97 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, NJ and the IBF Jr. Lightweight title was once again at stake. Towards the end of the first round, Patterson rocked Gatti with a short right hand and he began to let his hands go. During this rally, Patterson landed a hard left hand to the body that put Gatti down. Gatti was clearly hurt and looked like he might stay down; however referee Rudy Battle ruled the punch a low blow instead of a knockdown.

Tracy was furious as he knew the blow landed cleanly. Television replays clearly showed the punch landed clean to the body. Rudy Battle didn’t realize at the time that he robbed Tracy Patterson of a possible knockout. Gatti recovered from the shot and the fight continued. With the exception of a brief Patterson rally late in the fight, Arturo Gatti dominated the bout by boxing smart. The end result would be a unanimous decision win for Gatti.

Patterson was humbled in defeat, not blaming the referee for the bogus low blow call. He gave credit to Gatti as he said he was in the ring with a young, hungry warrior. Many felt that Tracy Harris Patterson’s career was done, despite only being 32 years old. Patterson would continue fighting on, determined to get back in the world title hunt by winning his four bouts, however that quest would come to a screeching hault in July of 1998 as he was dominated and stopped by Goyo Vargas in six rounds.

Although he lost to Vargas inside the ring, he gained an even bigger win outside the ring as he reconciled with his father Floyd, whom he didn’t speak to very much in the last four years. He would go 2-2-1 from 1999-2001, retiring with a record of 63-8-2 with 43 KO’s. He was one of the tougher, more exciting little big men of his era. He was a hardworking, blue collar type of fighter that didn’t rely on his father’s name as some fighter’s do today. He instead made his own name and we hope to someday see him inducted into Canastota alongside his legendary father.


Forgotten Legends: Leonard Dorin

By: Steve Gallegos

Only a handful of world champion boxers have come from the country of Romania. Lucian Bute is probably the best well known Romanian boxer, however before Bute, there was another fighter who was the face of Romanian boxing. His name was LeonardThe LionDorin. Dorin was an all action, in your face kind of fighter that seemed to rarely take a step back. He was one of the most exciting fighters to watch during the early 2000’s.

Dorin was born and raised in Ploiesti, Romania and was a decorated amateur with a record of 239-15. He would represent Romania in both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic games in which he took the bronze medal both times. Dorin would finally turn pro in 1998, signing with the Canadian promotional company Interbox. He would go 19-0 with six KO’s over the next three years, fighting mostly in his new adopted home of Canada. After winning a unanimous decision over the very popular and exciting Emmanuel Augustus, Dorin was in line for a title shot against Raul Balbi of Argentina.

They met on 01/05/02 at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, TX and it was for the WBA Lightweight championship. It was a back and forth toe-to-toe war from the opening bell. Both men were busted up, particularly Dorin, who was cut over both eyes. Dorin had the edge though as his shots had more snap on them and he rarely took a step backwards, coming forward for most of the fight. When it was all said and done, Dorin was awarded a very close 12 round split decision. He was now a world champion.

Dorin would face Balbi again in a rematch four months later in his home country of Romania. This time Dorin was dominant, knocking Balbi down en route to a lopsided unanimous decision. Dorin would not fight again for another year. He would return to the ring in May of 2003 in a unification bout with fellow lightweight champion Paul Spadafora. The “Pittsburgh Kid” Spadafora was unbeaten and had the advantage of fighting at home.

They met on 05/17/03 at the Petersen’s Events Center in Pittsburgh, PA for the unification of the WBA and IBF Lightweight titles. As was the case with Balbi, the fight was all action from the opening bell. Dorin would get the better of Spadafora in many exchanges as he got off first and continued to come forward. As the final bell sounded, it appeared to many that Spadafora’s unbeaten streak had come to an end; however the judges would decide otherwise. The final decision would be a split draw and both men would retain their titles.

Many fans and experts believed Dorin deserved the nod and a rematch was demanded, however it didn’t take place. After having difficulties making the 135 lb weight limit and being stripped of his title after failing to make weight for a title defense, Dorin moved up to 140 lbs and would challenge the ultimate blood and guts warrior Arturo Gatti.

They met on 07/24/04 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ for the WBC Super Lightweight Championship. On paper, this bout had all the makings of an all action war, however it was anything but. In the second round, Gatti landed a hard shot to the body that put Dorin down and out. It was Dorin’s first professional loss and it would be his last fight as he would announce his retirement shortly afterwards. He was 34 years old.

His record as a professional stands at 22-1-1 with 8 KO’s. Today, Dorin resides in Romania as he trains up and coming boxers. Many fans including myself, believed Leonard Dorin had a lot more to offer in the sport of boxing. Did his quest for Olympic Gold have a negative effect on his professional career. Had he turned pro sooner, would he have had more high profile bouts and won more world titles? In the end it was a professional career that started too late and ended too soon.
AP: Arturo Gatti – Leonard Dorin

Arturo Gatti Marathon Scheduled to Run on Fight Network

NEW YORK/TORONTO (Dec. 23, 2014) – Fight Network is going to celebrate Boxing Day in style this Friday (Dec. 26), airing six fights featuring the late, great Arturo “Thunder” Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs) from 9 a.m. ET — 9 p.m. ET.
Gatti was arguably boxing’s most popular, exciting fighter from his professional debut in 1991 until his retirement in 2007. He had an unearthly knack for sensational comebacks during a fight, as well as for enduring and dishing out tremendous pain.
The native of Italy lived in Montreal and Jersey City (NJ) during his colorful career until his untimely death in 2009. Known by boxing many fans as a “Human Highlight Film” in the ring, he was posthumously induted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) in 2012.
Fight Network is a 24/7 television channel dedicated to complete coverage of combat sports. It airs programs focused on the entire scope of the combat sports genre, including live fights and up-to-the-minute news and analysis for boxing, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, professional wrestling, traditional martial arts, fight news, as well as fight-themed drama series, documentaries and feature films.
Below find the Arturo Gatti Marathon programming schedule for this Friday on Fight Network:
9:00 a.m. ET – Calvin Grove (49-8), May 4, 1997 at Caesars Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ
11:00 a.m. ET – Angel Manfredy (22-2-1), Jan. 17, 1998, Convention Hall, Atlantic City, NJ
1:00 p.m. ET – Oscar de la Hoya (32-2), Mar, 24, 2001, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
3:00 p.m. ET – Terron Millett (26-2-1), Jan. 26, 2002, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
5:00 p.m. – Micky Ward (37-11), May 18, 2002, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT
7:00 p.m. – Micky Ward (38-11), Nov. 23, 2002, Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ
Gatti-Ward I was the consensus 2002 Fight of the Year, round nine the Round of the Year. The late Emanuel Steward, who was the HBO color commentator for Gatti-Ward I, called it (9th rd.) the mythical Round of the Century.