Gatto knocked out a then-inexperienced Bridgett Riley in the second
round of a fight where Riley had come in nine pounds over the agreed
weight and had to slim down in the sauna.
At Kickfest '95 some 1,500 fight fans filled the San Mateo County
Expo Center to see Gatto, then a 31-year-old sometime holder of
seven world titles, fight Tokyo's Kyoko ``Kamikaze'' Miyazaki in
the semi-main event for her eighth world championship belt. The
San Carlos resident won a 10-round unanimous decision over for
the featherweight title.
Known as kickboxing's ``bad girl'' for her take-no-prisoners style,
Gatto started quickly and dominated the first half of the fight,
before the plucky Miyazaki rallied. Ramona won six or seven - or
even all 10 - of the rounds, according to the judges.
"It was real satisfying,'' said Gatto. "I'm working
with a new trainer (Esteban Garcia), and he has me working more
on stick (hit) and move. No sense staying in there and banging
"In the ring, the adrenaline is pumping so hard, you don't
really feel it,'' she said.
Gatto was popular with a crowd that was roughly 75 percent men,
but also contained a good number of women and wide-eyed kids. Her
fight lasted till nearly midnight, but a throng of fans, mainly
kids, crowded around her for at least 15 or 20 minutes afterwards,
seeking her autograph.
It was a different story when Gatto met Olga Vlasova from Russia's
Ring Sibiri club for the ISKA and IKF world titles in San Jose.
Vlasova was fighting in her first international match. The aggresive
Gatto seemed to have more weapons and movement than the Russian
early in the 10-round match. But the taller Olga refused to be
flustered, worked past Gatto's attacks, and kept landing accurate
combinations. By the eighth, Ramona looked tired and was losing
the bigger exchanges. The last two rounds saw a lot of grabbing
and clinching in which Gatto succeeded in bloodying the Russian's
nose at close quarters, but Vlasova kept her cool and continued
to land hard clean shots. The judges gave a split decision in favor
of Vlasova, with one California judge 98-92.5 for Gatto.
After the decision Ramona reverted to the out-of-ring tantrums
she displayed after losing another close match to Kathy Long. Berating
the officials and an ESPN2 interviewer, Ramona huffed and puffed
that she had been robbed and that she was the one the crowd really
came to see. She had not been "bad girl" enough in the
ring to put the fight out of the judges' hands, but was angry out
of it, and has not fought since.
The controversy over the Gatto-Vlasova bout continued after it
as the IKF reversed the judges' decision and Vlasova was denied
their title. (Note: the IKF website has an article by Rick Franklin
saying that the judging of the Vlasaova bout was "fixed".)