Gatti out guns Leija, Ouma out works Jantuah
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (January 31, 2005)  
Photo © German Villasenor
The thunder sounded off in front of the Atlantic City crowd when the reigning WBC super lightweight champion Arturo 'Thunder' Gatti, 39-6 (30), picked apart and knocked out fight veteran James Leija, 46-7-2 (19), in five rounds of their scheduled twelve round bout.

From round one Gatti out-jabbed, out-worked and out-boxed Leija, landing a total of forty-five jabs per round to set up solid uppercuts and a massive right hand that finally subdued the Texas fighter.

During round one the ecstatic crowd immediately showed their support for the hometown boy by feverishly shouting "Gatti, Gatti, Gatti" and booing the challenger Leija.

Gatti, who is usually accustomed to all-out bloody brawls, took to the technical boxing side by working off his jab while Leija missed swooping shots. Round two Leija landed a solid over hand right while Gatti worked steadily off the jab. Round three Gatti was continuously showing solid boxing skills, landing precision punches while round four was fought at a slower pace with Gatti beating the thirty-eight year old Leija to the punch while the Texan just landing one shot at a time.

Round five was the end of the line for Jessie James when the overpowering right hand dropped the crafty veteran. At the count of nine Leija got to his feet and continued only to get a barrage of punishing punches while trying to catch the champ in an all out brawl and finally getting dropped by the left hook. Leija was counted out at the 1:48 mark in round five giving Gatti a record of 7-0 in title fights.

So where does the former featherweight champion Jessie James Leija go after this? After a long career he finally got the big payday he has fought so long for, raking in $600,000 for this bout, but it's unlikely he will make that sort of money again. As for Gatti, a mooted clash with pound-for-pound entrant Floyd Mayweather looks to be on the table for sometime in the future, but the recent legal troubles of the over confident fighter throws a halt to the wheel of progression. And with all the Mayweather hoopla coming out and about Gatti told HBO he was not going to wait for Mayweather.

Pretty Boy Floyd isn’t the only name out there regardless of what he may think at this time.

Such match-ups as Gatti-Tszyu would be a great match-up of the dueling thunders; Vivian Harris which is highly unlikely since nobody at this time wants to take the chance with the dangerous underrated fighter. So what will be with Gatti, only time will tell, but one thing for sure he has seemed to turn over a new leaf with his newly found boxing abilities. And although he didn’t appear to be the rugged, rough and tough blood-and-guts fighter he usually is, we all know that guy is just one punch away.

On the co-feature the fast-paced boxer Kassim Ouma, 21-1-1 (13), successfully defended his IBF junior middleweight title when he hands down outclassed and outworked the power punching Kofi Jantuah, 28-2 (18), for twelve rounds.

In round one Jantuah backed up the champion landing power shots that seemed to not phase the twenty-six year old. Round two would see the two trading in the middle of the ring fighting inside of each other at a tremendously fast pace. In the beginning of round three Jantuah landed a powerful right hand but the youngster took the power and went back to work while. The continually brawling seemed to start to taking it’s toll on the challenger prompting Jantuah to throw wildly missing mostly and in the process catching clean punches by Ouma.

In the fourth and fifth rounds the two would steadily trade. At times Ouma would fight off the ropes but he continued to land the much cleaner, more precise punches. Rounds six, seven and eight saw Ouma take full control over the bout, landing one pop shot after another and at one time Jantuah caught nine unanswered solid shots from Ouma.

In the ninth Jantuah seemed to fade into the survival mode while Ouma walked around Kofi firing at will and landing clean combinations to the body of the fatigued Jantuah. Round ten was more of the same, with Ouma striking Jantuah off the ropes and landed a massive left hook that had Jantuah shaking his head as if it didn’t hurt but he looked discouraged as he walked back to his corner at the end of the round.

Round eleven featured more body work by the champion and in Jantuah’s corner before the start of the final round his trainer Ronnie Shields said he had to knockout Ouma to get the win, which sent the challenger into a slow-paced frenzy as he tried to land that one fateful shot but never seemed to do the job.

In the end the judges saw it in the favor of the champion, as did all who witnessed the bout giving Kassim the go ahead by the way of unanimous decision. The final scores were 118-110, 116-112 and 117-111. Ouma now can look forward to showdowns in the 154 pound division with the likes of Winky Wright, who will be facing Felix Trinidad in the near future, and could possibly participate in a crowd pleasing bout with Oscar De La Hoya who just recently came back down in weight from the middleweight division. All and all, it was a good night for boxing.
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