By Rick Scharmberg
Teon Kennedy and Lante Addy put on a terrific main event on Saturday night at Bally’s Atlantic City, a toe-to-toe slugfest from start to finish, making it a fitting end to an event honoring one of the most exciting fighters of our generation, the late Arturo “Thunder” Gatti. The card, “Night of Thunder: A Tribute to Arturo Gatti,” was promoted by Main Events-Arturo’s longtime promoter. You could tell it was going to be a special evening when you saw the billboard with Arturo’s name in bold letters on the Atlantic City Expressway before reaching the resort city. Upon reaching the sixth floor ballroom at Bally’s, there were facades surrounding the lobby with the warrior’s image.
Photos: Mike Greenhill
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In the media room before the event, Ken Condon, a man instrumental in Atlantic City casino boxing since its inception in 1978, outlined the events that were to take place. He also put into perspective the financial impact Arturo made on the city. “People remember Arturo for his exciting fights, but he also generated over a million dollars in tax revenue alone in his final ten fights here. He was truly the heart and soul of Atlantic City boxing,” he said.
After the first bout of the night, a short film featuring highlights of key fights in Arturo’s career projected on four large screens positioned throughout the ballroom. Some of the fights shown were of Gatti’s come-from-behind knockouts of Wilson Rodriguez and Gabriel Ruelas, as well as his “Fight of the Year” with Ivan Robinson. A second film a bit later featured some later fights, such as with Jesse James Leija.
Prior to the co-main event between Anthony Flores and Victor Valenzuela, Arturo’s good friend, actor Chuck Zito was call to the ring. Chuck offered some words about their friendship.
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva read from a framed resolution given by New Jersey Senator Jim Whelan that summarized Arturo’s accomplishments in the ring. Ms. Duva then invited Arturo’s brother, Fabrizio, and his manager and friend Pat Lynch. Also introduced were Joe Domenico, SVP and General Manager of Bally’s Atlantic City, Ken Condon, of Harrah’s, Greg Tesone, GM of Boardwalk Hall, and Atlantic City Councilman George Tibbett.
Fabrizio Gatti was presented an Eternal Light statue in Arturo’s memory. Ken Condon also presented him with a framed photo montage of some of Arturo’s memorable moments.
Greg Tesone presented Fabrizio with a framed, scaled down version of the banner that will hang permanently from Boardwalk Hall, commemorating Arturo’s 15 fights and three world titles at the venue.
Councilman George Tibbett then presented a street sign with the name “Arturo Thunder Gatti Place”, which was dedicated in his name. The street is located near Boardwalk Hall, between Georgia and Pacific Avenues.
Fabrizio Gatti and Pat Lynch spoke briefly before the fights resumed. Prior to the main event, another film was shown. Arturo’s friends in the sport paid tribute in the film, which ended with Arturo stating, “There will never be another Arturo Gatti.”
The evening was summed up best by Fabrizio Gatti. As he left the room carrying the “Eternal Light” flame, Fightnews asked him what the honor meant to him. Fighting back tears, he said, “Arturo would be so proud to see all of this. What the state of New Jersey, Atlantic City, and all his friends did was awesome. I only wish that he could be here to see it.”