In a convincing first title defense, WBC junior welterweight champion Arturo Gatti scored a second-round knockout of unbeaten Leonard Dorin on Saturday, avoiding the kind of slugfests that have made his career.
Gatti, the plucky brawler known for leading with his face but winning with his heart, didn't do either in beating the WBC's top-ranked 140-pound challenger.
Holding Dorin at bay with left jabs and keeping active to avoid protracted exchanges, he dominated Dorin through the first round and most of the second.
Still, the end came suddenly. Gatti, 32, unleashed a left-right-left combination to Dorin's head, then wound up and delivered a crushing left hook to the body that nearly lifted Dorin off his feet.
Dorin fell to his right knee, then to both as referee Randy Neumann stepped in and counted him out at 2 minutes 55 seconds of the round. Gatti (38-6) then leaped into the arms of manager Pat Lynch in celebration.
Gatti's corner men had told him during training to go to Dorin's body because of the three-inch height advantage he enjoyed over the 5-foot-4-inch Romanian.
"I went back to the corner after the first round and [trainer Buddy] McGirt said 'Forget the head, go to the body,' " Gatti said.
Ringside physician Kenneth Remsen said the punch took Dorin's breath away and caused his stomach to spasm. He may have broken a rib, Remsen said.
Dorin, whose only previous blemish in a six-year career came in a 2003 draw with IBF lightweight champion Paul Spadafora, had proclaimed himself the speedier fighter earlier in the week.
But he was nothing of the sort Saturday, missing on several wild punches in the first round, including a right just before the bell that he threw so hard, he lost his balance and fell face-first into the ropes.
Gatti, who's been rehabilitated from his toe-to-toe tendencies by McGirt, controlled the tempo from the start, using his six-inch reach advantage to keep Dorin away.
The big punch helped him avoid the kind of fight that the partisan crowd of 11,863 in Boardwalk Hall came to see.
"It's great to get out of here early," said Gatti, of Jersey City, who said he hoped to take on either Floyd Mayweather, Jr., or Spadafora in his next defense.
Gatti won the title on Jan. 24 with a unanimous 12-round decision over Gianluca Branco in the same arena.
Gatti made $1.75 million, Dorin $500,000 for the fight.
Dorin, 34, who resides in Montreal, dropped to 21-1-1.