By Mike Indri
Retired Boxers Foundation
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey
Atlantic City, NJ - To the dismay of the 9,437 faithful fans that once
again transformed Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall into "Arturo Gatti's
backyard", Alfonso Gomez, a supposed perfect opponent due to his lighter
punching, pounded the New Jersey legend throughout the surprisingly
one-sided bout, putting an end to the career of one of the most beloved
and cherished fighters - of this, or any era.
For seven rounds Gomez, of the television reality series "Contender"
fame, out-boxed and out-hit Gatti, landing too many clean power punches
along the way before finally battering the blood and guts warrior into
submission at the 2:12 mark of the fateful seventh round. A scorching
round in which Gomez, according to Comp-U-Box, landed 40 of his 62 power
While winning four of the first six rounds on two of the judges
scorecards, and pitching a shutout on that of highly respected Steve
Weisfeld's ledger, Gomez hurt Gatti early in round seven with
bludgeoning bombs along with an effective body attack which instilled
desperation into his damaged foe. Resorting to the type of homerun
swings which pulled him from the depths of defeat in his career defining
dramatic knockout triumphs against Wilson Rodriguez and Rafael Ruelas,
Gatti valiantly unleashed his best effort, and paid dearly for his
reckless abandon. A big right hand was the exclamation mark for which
Gatti had no answer. Totally spent, annihilated, and with nothing left
to give Gatti slumped down the ropes and onto the canvas. As a true
champion, the lion hearted Jersey City native struggled, in vain, to get
to his feet.
As sad and regrettable this scene was for the true boxing fan, the
moment turned proud for the sport and business as Commissioner Larry
Hazzard, Sr. jumped into the ring ensuring stoppage of the fight. While
many ringside observers wondered aloud why referee Randy Neumann or
Gatti's trainer Micky Ward were allowing this non-competitive punishment
to continue, Hazzard's actions again proved why the state of New Jersey,
through its State Athletic Control Board, runs the finest, most
stringent and strictly regulated fight commission in the country. For
this, Commissioner Larry Hazzard, Sr. should be commended.
Afterwards, a realistic Gatti, 40-9 (31 KO's), announced his retirement
before leaving for the hospital to check on a nasty looking injury to
the left side of his face (lip/cheekbone area). "I will be back to
Boardwalk Hall," said a smiling Gatti, "but only as a spectator!"
To his credit, Alfonso Gomez was given an opportunity and he seized the
moment. Figuring to be a tailor-made opponent, due to his coming
straightforward approach and a lack of punching power, Gomez proved his
detractors wrong. From the fight's opening bell to his fight-ending
picture perfect right hand, Gomez, who improved to 17-4-2 (8 KO's),
controlled the action, displayed an effective jab and wore his thirty
five year old opponent down with a solid attack to the body and head.