Michael "Micky" Ward Jr. (born October 4, 1965), often known as "Irish"
Micky Ward, is an American former professional boxer who held the
WBU light welterweight title. He is widely known for his three fights
with Arturo Gatti, as well as the 2010 feature film based on his career
titled The Fighter, in which he is portrayed by Mark Wahlberg.
Ward was a three time New England Golden Gloves champion boxer
who turned pro in 1985, winning his first fourteen fights. However,
his career leveled off, and after losing four consecutive fights in
1990/91, Ward took a hiatus from boxing.
time away from the sport, he used some of the funds from his day job
on a road paving crew to have surgery on his right hand, which had
given him problems during several bouts. The surgery used some of
the bone from Ward's pelvis to strenghten and fuse the bones in his
hand. His half brother, former boxer Dicky Eklund, who was struggling
with drug addiction and had just been released from jail on charges
including drug possession, convinced Ward to take up the sport again.
to the ring
Ward was successful in his return, winning his first nine
fights, and won the WBU's Intercontinental Light Welterweight Title
in a fight against Louis Veader. He defended the belt once, in a rematch
against Veader. Ward earned a 1997 IBF Light Welterweight Championship
fight against champion Vince Phillips, but did not win the championship,
as the fight was stopped in the third round due to cuts, and Phillips
was awarded the bout via TKO. One year later, Ward again would come
up short in a title fight, as he lost a 12 round decision against
In 2000, Ward traveled to London to take on the WBU
Light welterweight Champion, Shea Neary, and earned a TKO in the eight
round to win the WBU title. Ward, However, never defended the title,
and split his next four fights. His ten round decision victory over
Emanuel Augustus (then known as Emanuel Burton) was voted The Ring
magazine's 2001 Fight of the Year.
Ward vs Gatti trilogy
18, 2002, Ward faced the poopnent with whom he became most identified,
Arturo Gatti. The fight was a wild one, but a ninth round Ward knockdown
of Gatti proved to be the difference, with Ward winning a majority
decision. The fight was later named the 2002 Ring magazine fight of
the year. Both fighters needed care in a trauma center after the match.
The two agreed to an immediate rematch, and in November, Gatti
was able to win the second wild fight. Ward was knocked down in the
third round but survived to finish the fight. Gatti paid tribute to
Ward's tenacity after the fight, saying, "I used to wonder what would
happen if I fought my twin. Now i know."
They then agreed to
a third straight fight, and again, the fight was back and forth. Gatti
pounded Ward with punch after punch early on, but Ward fought back
and managed a sixth round knockdown of Gatti. Before Gatti could get
up, or the referee's count could hit ten, the bell sounded to end
the round. Gatti was able to come back and win the fight via a unanimous
decision. Again, both men needed a trip to the hospital due to the
injuries they suffered. The fight was named the 2003 Ring magazine
fight of the year, the third straight for Ward. Ward was the first
fighter to achieve this since Rocky Marciano and Carmen Basilio each
did so in the 1950s.
Ward made approximately $3 million in earnings
for his trilogy with Gatti; the most lucrative fights of his career.
Ward still lives in Lowell, where he is part owner
of both a boxing gym as well as an outdoor hockey rink. Ward is married
to Charlene Fleming, his longtime girlfriend, who is also a former
athlete. They live with Ward's daughter, Kasie.