George Michael "Micky" Ward Jr. (born October 4, 1965)
During Ward's 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 serveral 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.
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.
In a 1997 match
that would come to typify the exceptional power of Ward's left hook
to the body, he scored a 7th round knockout against the then
undefefeated Mexican Alfonso Sanchez in a fight that Ward, up to then,
was clearly losing on points. Shortly before the punch, Larry Merchant
said the fight should be stopped (which referee Mitch Halpern had
thratened to do if Ward didn't show him something. Afterwards Merchant
called it one of the most extraordinary things he'd ever seen in boxing.
left hook to the body later resulted in a first round knockout of
Steve Quinonez and , perhaps most famously, a nine-count knockdown
of Arturo Gatti in the first fight of their legendary trilogy.
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 Zab Judah.
boxing legend Aruro Gatti was found dead in a Brazilian hotel room
last week, his ring rival and friend "Irish" Micky Ward said that
part of him died also.
Ward and Gatti were planning to visit
the set of the movie "The Fighter." Starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian
Bale, "The Fighter" is the star-studded life story of Ward, the Irish-American
Lowell, Massachusetts native.
At the center of Ward's boxing
career is a series of now legendary bouts against Gatti, considered
by many ring experts to have some of the most exhilarating moments
in all of boxing history.
In fact, this coming weekend, HBO is
planning to rebroadcast all three of the Gatti-Ward bouts, which spectacularyly
unfolded between May of 2002 and June of 2003.
Ward himself has
said it was the famous fights against Gatti that not only thrilled
boxing fans across North America, but also turned "The Fighter" from
some kind of small-scale movie into a full-blown Hollywood feature.
Ward retired, he served as a trainer on Gatti's staff. The men who
battled in the ring against each other so valiantly had forged a bond
outside the ring as well.
"It's just crazy," Ward told the boxing
website the Sweet Science this week. "I can't believe it. Part of
me is gone. I feel bad for his mother, and sister and brothers, his