Gatti prepared to go to the extreme

Updated: January 26, 2005, 8:33 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- In a manner matching his aggressive fighting style, Arturo Gatti simply presented his plan for his upcoming title bout against Jesse James Leija.

"I'm coming to kill -- not to win, to kill," the WBC super lightweight champion said at a news conference Wednesday. "I'm going to win this fight, no doubt about it. Read my lips: no doubt about it."

Gatti is certainly known for his action-packed fights. His trilogy with Mickey Ward is touted by many as one of the best rivalries in boxing history, and he is consistently praised for the heart and courage he shows in the ring.

It's that kind of action that fans will be looking for from Saturday night's scheduled 12-round fight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The fight will also be telecast as part of HBO's "World Championship Boxing Series."

Gatti doesn't expect to disappoint.

"Just watch on Saturday night," he said. "You're going to see an explosive Arturo Gatti."

The 32-year-old Gatti, 38-6 with 29 knockouts, won the title in January 2004, when he decisioned Italian Gianluca Branco. He kept the crown in July with a one-punch knockout of previously unbeaten Leonard Dorin.

Leija, 38, is 47-6-2 with 18 knockouts.

Gatti said he respects Leija, who has beaten Ward, lost to Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya and is a former WBC world super featherweight titleholder. However, the champion continually interrupted Leija's manager, Lester Bedford, while he spoke Wednesday.

"Stop trying sell it; I bought it already," Gatti said after Bedford remarked that he thinks his fighter will win.

"Just make sure you show up Saturday," Gatti added.

A statement was also read on behalf of De La Hoya, who signed Leija to his Golden Boy Promotions.

"Come Saturday night, Jesse's going to take [Gatti's] championship," the statement said.

The winner of the title fight is expected to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May. Already, Mayweather has been asked about the prospect of fighting Gatti, an oversight that Leija says doesn't bother him.

"That's to my advantage. The more they look toward Mayweather, the more they forget about me," Leija said. "I only have one guy in my sights right now and that's Gatti."

The undercard includes a 12-round IBF junior middleweight title fight between champion Kassim Ouma (20-1-1, three knockouts) and Kofi Jantuah (28-1, 18 knockouts).


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press