By Eric Raskin
The greats don't become great overnight. But sometimes the viewing audience becomes aware of their greatness—or at least their potential for greatness—all at once. Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. LeBron scoring Cleveland's last 25 points against Detroit in the Conference Finals. Jerry, George, and Elaine waiting for a table in that Chinese restaurant.
It's not necessarily the best moment they'll ever have, the highest high they'll ever reach. But it's the moment when what will make them iconic is fully revealed. And without that moment, the story almost certainly doesn't play out the same way.
For Arturo Gatti, the defining action fighter of the HBO Boxing era, that moment arrived in his 26th professional fight, his first defense of his first title belt. The opponent was a little-known, oft-beaten fighter from Spain by way of the Dominican Republic named Wilson Rodriguez. As Steve Farhood cracked in KO magazine after the fight, "Every newly crowned champion is entitled to a gimme first defense." What we didn't know prior to the night of March 23, 1996, was that Gatti and "gimme" simply don't go together.
Gatti-Rodriguez was supposed to be routine. Gatti-Rodriguez was supposed to be drama-free. Instead, Gatti-Rodriguez was the night Arturo Gatti became Arturo Gatti.