Ward won three New England Golden Gloves titles as an amateur before turning pro in 1985. After a stretch of defeats
in the early 1990s, Ward hung up the gloves for a period of three years. He returned in 1994 with a vengeance, winning nine
straight fights and earning some fights against big name fighters like Arturo Gatti.
Ward is known for his devastating left hook to the body and his ability to withstand punishment while waiting to land
his trademark shot. A perennial underdog, he has been known to suddenly drop his opponent in the late rounds with a single
shot to the body (as he did against Emanuel Augustus, who was then known as Emanuel Burton, Antonio Diaz, and Shea Neary).
After a 15-year pro career, the veteran Ward gained widespread fame in his May 20, 2002 fight with Arturo Gatti, which
was broadcast live on HBO. In 2001, Ward's brutal battle with Emanuel Augustus July 13, 2001 had been named the Ring Magazine
Fight of the Year, a fight some thought Augustus won, and it served to set up the much-anticipated Ward-Gatti matchup. Ward-Gatti
I saw both fighters withstand an amazing amount of punishment through 10 rounds of non-stop action. Ward, who dropped Gatti
in the ninth round with a vicious left hook to the body, won the fight by majority decision.
Ward-Gatti I was hailed as the "Fight of the Century" by boxing fans and writers, and Round 9 of that bout was called
"The Round of the Century" by Emanuel Steward, who co-hosted the fight live on HBO. Ring Magazine named Ward-Gatti I the Fight
of the Year for 2002. Both fighters showed such heart and sportsmanship through the grueling fight that many felt the fight
helped to revive a sport which has been plagued by showboating, corruption, and greed since the 1990s.
In their rematch, Gatti fought a smart fight and neutralized Ward's body punching power by boxing and staying low. In
the third round, Gatti knocked Ward to the canvas with a thundering overhand right which landed on Ward's ear. Ward, stunned,
sprawled into the turnbuckle and stayed down for the mandatory 8 count. Nobody, especially Gatti (who after the fight called
it "the hardest punch I've ever landed") expected Ward to get up, never mind finish the fight. It later turned out that Gatti
had fractured his right hand after a hard punch to Ward's hip, but continued to punch with his right hand.
Commentators noted that if it had been any other fighter than Ward, the referee would have stopped the fight in the third
round. Indeed, some feel the fight should have been stopped as Ward took an additional 7 rounds of punishment in a lopsided
Gatti victory. Ward and Gatti earned over one million dollars apiece for Ward-Gatti II.
Ward and Gatti had a third fight, on June 7 of 2003. Despite dropping Gatti in round six, Ward lost by a ten round unanimous
decision. Ward-Gatti 3 was named Fight of the Year for 2003 by Ring Magazine, which meant that Micky Ward had earned that
honor three times. This put him in the company of such all-time greats as Rocky Marciano, Carmen Basilio, and Muhammad Ali.
While Ward never won one of the "Big Three" world titles, he captured both the WBU Intercontinental Light Welterweight
title and the WBU Light Welterweight title. He also won the respect and admiration of many fans worldwide at this late stage
in his career. Before his final fight with Gatti, Micky Ward announced his plans to retire after the fight.
In his native Massachusetts, Micky Ward is regarded as a working class hero, a blue-collar athlete who has overcome
many difficulties in life and prevailed through determination and hard work. Micky Ward's older brother, Dickie Eklund, was
also a professional fighter, and once faced Sugar Ray Leonard. Dickie Eklund was featured in the 1995 HBO documentary High
on Crack Street, a portion of which is filmed at one of Micky Ward's earlier fights.
The upcoming film The Fighter recalls Micky Ward's rise to fame. Mark Wahlberg has been cast for the role of Micky, and
Matt Damon is set to play his older brother, Dickie Eklund.
The song "The Warrior's Code" by Boston Celtic Punk band Dropkick Murphys is dedicated to Micky Ward, and his photograph
appears on the cover of the album of the same title. Mickey Ward used the biographical song One Hit To The Body , by fellow
Lowell native D-Tension, as his official ring entrance music for his biggest fights including his victory over Arturo Gatti.
There is also a song, "Animal Rap" by Philadelphia Hip-Hop duo Jedi Mind Tricks that has a "Micky Ward Mix" which features
dark production and a little girl singing sadly for the chorus (it also has an Arturo Gatti Mix which features a grand orchestra
and vocal samples for the chorus, and is more common).