NEWS
09/20/2011 11:47 EDT | Updated 11/20/2011 05:12 EST

Hope emerges for settlement over Gatti fortune; boxer's widow, family talking

MONTREAL - After duking it out in the courtroom for the past 10 days, there appears to be a major breakthrough in the battle over the estate of the late boxer Arturo Gatti.

Both sides say they're ready to stop the fight.

The Canadian boxer's widow Amanda Rodrigues and his family have suddenly begun closed-door negotiations aimed at an agreement over his $3.4 million fortune.

Intense negotiations began abruptly on Tuesday between the two parties, aimed at putting an end to a bitter civil trial.

Lawyers emerged briefly Tuesday afternoon to inform Justice Claudine Roy that negotiations were ongoing and a decision would come Wednesday morning.

"Both parties are negotiating — seriously — we're going to see if we can come to an agreement," the Gatti family's lawyer Carmine Mercadante told reporters as he left a Montreal courtroom.

He called the negotiations positive.

The talks represent a sudden reversal, given the deeply personal battle between the boxing champ's widow and his family.

They come after three days of emotionally charged testimony where Rodrigues, the late boxer's mother Ida Gatti and brother Fabrizio Gatti have found themselves under intense questioning on the stand.

Fabrizio Gatti was expected to testify again Tuesday, followed by Rodrigues in her own defence.

Negotiations also come after three-year-old Arturo Jr., Rodrigues and Gatti's son, was brought for a visit to his Montreal relatives for the first time since 2009.

The weekend meeting was said to have been highly emotional and it may have marked a turning point in the dispute.

Until Tuesday, there appeared to have been little hope for such a resolution.

The judge pleaded with the sides just a few days ago to put aside their enmity and reach a settlement over what was left of Gatti's fast-dwindling fortune.

But his widow, Amanda Rodrigues, defiantly declared last week that she would not settle.

Her lawyer, Pierre-Hugues Fortin, wouldn't elaborate if it was his client who had the change of heart.

"Last week was last week, today is a different day. They are discussing at the present moment and I will avoid disclosing to you any details concerning that settlement including the reasons that may have prompted the parties to settle," Fortin told reporters.

"I really hope that we find a way of settling the case; that's my position."

The Gattis and Rodrigues have been at daggers drawn since the boxer's 2009 death at a Brazilian resort.

The boxer's family does not accept the conclusion of Brazilian authorities that he committed suicide. And they reject the legitimacy of a will, signed just weeks before his death, that left everything to Rodrigues.

The civil case has heard that the couple were having volcanic arguments leading up to Gatti's death and that both had consulted divorce lawyers.

The Gattis also point out that, under the terms of a prenuptial agreement, Rodrigues would have been left without a penny had the couple divorced.

They say the boxer's true feelings were represented in an older will that left everything to them; however, the Gattis cannot produce a signed copy of that will.

The Gatti family has said their preference is that the fortune be split equally between Gatti's child with Rodrigues and his child from a previous relationship. They say they don't want any of the money for themselves.

However, even a resolution to the Rodrigues-Gatti case would not completely end the legal saga over the late boxer's fortune.

There are outstanding legal cases in New Jersey and Florida as well as taxes that have not been paid.

A wrongful-death suit filed in New Jersey by the mother of Arturo Gatti's oldest child, Sofia, has effectively frozen all of the assets.

The estate also owes back taxes, and faces legal action from other parties.

Last week, in urging the parties to settle, Justice Roy warned both sides that the money would eventually run out unless they came to their senses.