Alfonso Gomez retires Gatti, Cintron looks like a Killer

By George Kimball


Alfonso Gomez retires Gatti, Cintron looks like a Killer

ATLANTIC CITY --- A reasonable man would have to conclude that the 2007 edition of the Annual Arturo Gatti Midsummer Revival Meeting at Boardwalk Hall was the last. For the third consecutive summer the festivities concluded with the guest of honor being knocked out, but this time the perpetrator wasn’t the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer (Floyd Mayweather; 2005) or even a world champion (Carlos Baldomir; 2006), but a refugee from the first season of “The Contender” – and Alfonso Gomez wasn’t even the champion of that.

Gatti is only 35, but in boxing years he is much older than that, and you knew this night was going to come. You just didn’t know when. But Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall Arturo Gatti turned into Dorian Gray, turning into an old fighter right before the horrified eyes of a sellout crowd of his loyal faithful.

Gatti has always said he would leave the sport under his own terms, but after seven rounds of absorbing a frightful beating from his younger adversary, it ended instead with him planted face-first in the canvas. Although he was able to woozily lift his head off the floor by the time Randy Neumann administered his count, Gatti was still on the deck, on all fours, when the fight, and almost certainly his career, came to an end at 2:12 of the round.

By the time his trainer, and old rival, Micky Ward could reach him, it was to retrieve a blood-soaked mouthpiece and, with it, a couple of teeth.

Unlike his earlier valedictories, there were no Gatti Moments in this one. There were not even brief flashes of brilliance, and after the first round or two there weren’t any chants of “Gatti! Gatti!” from the crowd, either. Rather, it was a matter of watching Gomez enact a well-conceived game plan the older man was able to do nothing about.

From the outset Gomez was landing his jab, slipping in the odd right hand, and pounding Gatti with hooks almost at will – and getting almost no resistance in return.

“We practiced to make sure I was throwing the jab at my distance and not his,” said Gomez afterward.

For round after round Gomez tormented the frustrated Gatti, and appeared to rock him on several occasions. Then in the seventh, the Fonz landed a couple of chopping rights that brought Gatti up short, and moved in to deliver an uninterrupted barrage of at least twenty punches.

Had it been anyone other than Gatti on the receiving end, Neumann conceded later, he would have stopped it then, but over the years Nuemann had watched Gatti weather similar punishment before, and when Gatti lashed out with a couple of harmless punches, the fight was allowed to continue.

“He was still in it right up until he went down,” insisted Neumann.

It didn’t last much longer, anyway. Gomez moved in on a weary Gatti, whose back was near the ropes in his own corner, and threw a left hook followed by a solid right that caught Gatti squarely in the jaw. He teetered for a moment and then went down, this time for good.

New Jersey commission chairman Larry Hazzard leapt into the ring to rescue Gatti before Neumann got to ten, but it was at that point irrelevant. Arturo wasn’t going to get up, and if he had, not even Randy Neumann would have allowed him to continue at that point.

Even as his entourage celebrated, Gomez, who grew up watching Gatti fights on television, seemed almost remorseful.

“He was taking an awful lot of shots,” said a concerned Gomez later. “The referee must have liked him, because I thought he would stop it.  I was even looking over to the corner to see if Micky Ward would stop it, but he never did.”

Gatti was spirited straight out of Boardwalk Hall in an ambulance. At the very least he would need considerable stitchery for the cuts on the inside of his mouth.

CompuBox punchstats revealed that Gomez had landed 216 punches to Gatti’s 74, but the biggest edge came in power punches, with Gomez outlanding his foe 142-29. (In the final round, Bob Cannobio noted, Gomez threw 62 power punches, and connected on 40 of them.)

Boxing Talk scored all six completed rounds for Gomez and had the fight 60-54 after six, as did one of the ringside judges, Steve Weisfeld. Pierre Benoist and Robert Grasso both had Gomez ahead 58-56.

If this was indeed the end, Gatti goes out at 40-9, while Gomez, who ended what had been a bad run of ‘Contender’ alumni in nationally-televised fights, improved to 17-3-2.

The full house had turned out to see Gatti, but it was Kermit Cintron who stole the show. The Puerto Rican-born IBF welterweight champion successfully defended his title with an impressive knockout of Argentine challenger Walther Mathysse in the opening bout of the HBO telecast that stamped him as a force to be reckoned with.

Cintron (now 28-1) and Matthysee (26-2) came to the bout with one loss apiece, having been knocked out by Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams, respectively. They had knocked out all but three of their aggregate victims, so it was expected that this one would end early. What was unexpected was how early, and how devastatingly.

Matthysse had barely removed his Argentina soccer jersey when he knew he was in a fight. After spending most of the first round working behind his jab, Cintron hurt Matthysse with a right hand late in the round. Seizing his advantage, he moved in to land a left hook, and then caught his foe with another right that put him down just before the bell.

“I knew he was hurt,” said Cintron. “That’s why I jumped right on him in the second.”

Cintron went on the attack, knocked Matthysse down with the first punch he threw in the second, a straight right. No sooner had the Argentine gotten to his feet than Cintron caught him with a left uppercut that literally lifted Mathysse  straight up off the canvas. Although he landed a right hand behind it, the Argentine was already out; all the punch did was redirect his fall, and when Matthysse landed with a thud, referee Earl Morton immediately waved it off without a count – although he could have counted to 100.

The devastating knockout set off a wild celebration in the corner. While Cintron was exuberantly running around the ring and climbing the turnbuckles in each corner, trainer Emanuel Steward, assistant Joey Gamache, and Cintron stablemate Andy Lee (who had carried the champion’s belt into the ring) were equally overjoyed.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Steward. “Kermit has developed into a sharpshooter. He’s a very accurate puncher.”

“I wasn’t expecting it would be that quick. I’d trained for a hard fight,” said an obviously elated Cintron. “Emanuel told me to be cautious, to land my jab and try to set up the right hand.

“This was the real Kermit Cintron,” added the champion. “The Margarito fight meant nothing. I think I showed – and proved to myself – that I belong here. I really am a world champion.”

With Margarito losing his title to Williams last night, avenging the earlier loss no longer seems quite as important. Cintron said he would happily face any of the other 147-pound claimants, but (follow the money here) would prefer that his next fight be against Shane Mosely.

Steward also mentioned Mosely as a possible opponent.

“Kermit,” said Steward, “is the best welterweight in the world right now. He’s a boxer’s boxer.”

*   *   *

JULY 14, 2007

WELTERWEIGHTS: Kermit Cintron, 146, Reading, Pa. KO’d Walter Matthysse, 147, Trelew, Argentina (2) (Retains IBF title)

Alfonso Gomez, 147, Guadalajara, Mexico KO’d Arturo Gatti, 146, Montreal, Canada 7()

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Giovanni Lorenzo, 161, San Cristobal, D.R. KO’d Sherwin Davis, 161, Indianapolis, Ind. (3)

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Pawel Wolak, 155, Debica, Poland TKO’d Edgar Reyes, 150, Rio Piedras, P.R. (2)

Henry Crawford, 150, Paterson, N.J. KO’d Josh Hammock, 157, Fort Smith, Ark. (1)

Kaseem Wilson, 151, Philadelphia, Penn. Dec. Sergio Garcia, 150, Miami, Fla. (4)
FLYWEIGHTS: Raul Martinez, 112, San Antonio, Tex. TKO’d Evaristo Primero, 111, El Paso, Tex. (Ret. 5)


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