By Kurt Wolfheimer and Rick Scharmberg at ringside.
Saturday night at Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Main Events promotions put on a fitting boxing tribute and six bout card to honor the recently passed Atlantic City boxing legend Arturo “Thunder” Gatti. The card was fittingly called “A night of thunder,” in remembrance of the boxing legend. Gatti was a blood and guts warrior who won over the hearts and souls of boxing fans in Atlantic City and all over the world with his unbelievable courage and will to come back from the edge of defeat in winning thrilling toe to toe victories.
Photos: Mike Greenhill
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The recently passed boxing legend, Gatti carried the boxing scene in Atlantic City, New Jersey for several years with sold out shows at various venues, including several at the legendary Boardwalk Hall, The boxing legend was graciously honored by Kathy Duva of Main Events and Bally’s Casino with plaques and proclamations. Earlier in the day, a street in Atlantic City was named after Arturo Gatti. Also included in the tribute was a six bout card, which was fought between video highlights of Gatti’s career. In the main event of the evening, undefeated Philly super bantamweight prospect, Teon “The Technician” Kennedy (13-0-1, 5 KOs) looked to get a signature win added to his career, but was forced to settle for a ten round majority draw with Accra Ghana’s Lante Addy (6-4-1, 4 KOs). The co-feature of the evening was a crossroads war between pair of undefeated super featherweights, which went at it for a chance to prove who would be one of the top prospects in the division. In the end, Victor “The Viper” Valenzuela’s (7-0, 1 KO) hand speed was just too much, as he willed his way to a six round unanimous decision victory over Anthony Flores (8-1, 5 KOs).
The twenty-five-year-old Kennedy came into the main event with big expectations of securing another signature win against the more experienced Addy who had already been twelve rounds three times.
Right from the opening round, Kennedy looked sharp, moving to his left with stinging left jabs.
As the fight went on, Addy stayed low and ducked under the jabs while pressing with wide combinations.
By round three, both fighters began to trade with heavy shots. Addy was the aggressor, pushing forward and throwing the most shots. A few of his punches were getting in, but many were bouncing off the arms and gloves of Kennedy who was connecting with fewer, but cleaner blows. Addy took round three based on his aggressiveness.
Kennedy went on the bicycle and seemed to squeak out round four with clean shots which slowed Addy’s attack.
Rounds six and seven were too close to call as both fighters exchanged blistering combinations as the rounds closed. Late in round seven, Teon Kennedy popped a big overhand right off the face of Addy and followed up with a right hand. Addy, like a warrior, just shook it off and continued to pile on the pressure using a variety of wide combinations. More of Lante Addy’s punches were getting into the face of Kennedy as he tired from the constant onslaught.
By round eight both fighters looked tired as they traded heavy combinations. Kennedy hurt Addy with a big overhand right and steadily went after him. Addy covered but recovered quickly and went back on the attack as Kennedy backed off. Both fighters continued with furious exchanges. The power and constant pressure of Addy had done its job as he was winning the exchanges in rounds eight and nine. The damage from Addy’s shots showed as Kennedy’s left eye area showed signs of swelling.
The fight appeared to be on the line as both fighters went at it in back forth heavy exchanges in tenth and final round. Kennedy went to the body, but Addy just backed up and regained his composure with a few right hands and went back on the attack. Late in the round, Addy went to the body, but Kennedy backed him up with a right hand as the final round came to a close.
The fans rose to their feet in appreciation in the efforts of both fighters. There were several anxious moments in both corners as they waited for the scores to be tallied. After a few moments, the scores were read. The first judge saw the bout 98-92 in favor of Teon Kennedy. However, he was overruled as the other two saw the bout 95-95 even for the majority draw.
The crowd booed the decision, but it appeared just as many of the rounds could have gone either way. Neither fighter deserved to lose this fight, as they put on show that would have made Arturo Gatti proud.
Teon Kennedy slides to (13-0-1, 5 KOs), while Lante Addy moves to (6-4-1, 4 KOs).
Valenzuela stuns Flores
In the co-feature, Victor “The Viper” Valenzuela (7-0, 1 KO), of Passaic, NJ won a battle of unbeaten prospects, taking a six round unanimous decision over “Flawless” Anthony Flores (8-1, 5 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA in a six round super featherweight bout.
At times a slow starter, Flores came out more aggressive than normal, which seemed to play into the speedier Valenzuela’s hands. After a very close first round, Valenzuela began waiting on Flores, slipping his shots, and then countering with quick, solid left hooks to the head in round two.
Yet to find his rhythm, Flores targeted the body in round three, but Valenzuela was still beating him to the punch. He also started working the hook to the body of Flores. Valenzuela had Flores in a nice hole on the scorecards at the midway point.
Flores opened the fourth with a nice counter right hand followed by an overhand right, which forced a clinch. There was an accidental clash of heads, and Flores emerged with a cut over his left eye. The cut seemed to inspire Anthony, who finally began using his longer left jab and working his right to the body. Round four was very close.
Flores had his best round of the fight in the fifth round. He kept Valenzuela on the defensive with purposeful jabs followed up with right hands, while Valenzuela’s output noticeably dropped.
The final round was close, with Flores dominating the first half of the round with a steady stream of left jabs and lead rights to the head. Valenzuela came back with a counter left, followed by another left hook to the head. Still, Flores appeared to have the edge in the round.
With the first, fourth, and sixth rounds being very close, a draw was not out of the question. However, the judges gave the close rounds to Victor, as they saw it 60-54 and 58-56 (twice) in his favor.
Mercado manhandles Nieves.
Undefeated Cape New Jersey welterweight Josh Mercado moved his record to (2-0, 1 KO) with a one sided three round beat down of the Allentown Pennsylvania’s Joel Nieves.
The twenty-five-year-old Mercado looked more seasoned than a boxer in just his second professional fight, as he methodically broke down the debuting Joel Nieves with pinpoint combinations in the opening round. The work early in the round showed as Nieves became defensive. Mercado unloaded a left hook which landed on the side of the face of Nieves and sent him to the canvas. Nieves rose to his feet and survived the round.
Mercado continued to break down Nieves with various combinations. In the closing seconds Mercado chased a hurt Nieves across the ring and into the corner with a five-punch combination. Josh went in for the finishing shots, but the bell sounded to end the round before he could land any more punches.
Nieves made an attempt to change the tide of the fight as round three began by pinning Mercado in the corner and trying to unload but Mercado would have none of it and spun him around, connecting with several shots of his own. A short uppercut stunned Nieves. Mercado smelled blood and jumped on his prey. After about ten unanswered punches referee Steve Smoger stepped in and saved Nieves from further damage. The time of the stoppage occurred at 2:30 of the third round of the scheduled four round bout.
“My trainer has been stressing to me how strong I was, but I think I second guess it,” said Martinez. “He has a friend who is a sports psychologist and he said something to me that I really implemented in this fight. ‘Remind yourself of what you accomplished in your career. You’re experienced and you can’t let the pressure get to you,’ so I kept reminding myself that I am the better fighter and it showed.
He (Nieves) came into weigh-in late yesterday and I felt he disrespected everybody. There were twelve fighters there and he showed in real late and came in acting like a real punk. It kind of fired me up. I am not like most boxers. I am kind of a gentleman and guys like that give us a bad name and I wanted to teach him a lesson.
I dedicated this fight to my friend Jesse Bowman who broke some bones in his neck from a surfing accident,” said Martinez afterward. “He is recovering, but it has been tough and I just wanted to dedicate this victory to him.”
Wilson overwhelms Kinsey
Garrett Wilson (5-2, 2 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA took a unanimous decision over Atlantic City’s Alfred Kinsey (6-4-1, 3 KOs) in a six round light heavyweight bout.
Wilson established a hard, accurate jab from the opening bell, while Kinsey waited to counter punch. Near the end of the first, Wilson trapped Kinsey along the ropes, and punished him with a six-punch combination to the body.
Wilson clipped Kinsey with a short right behind the jab early in round two, but Kinsey countered an overhand right from Wilson with a nice left hook. It was a close round, as was round three. Kinsey closed this round with a hard counter right hand.
The final three rounds were all Wilson. He pinned Kinsey on the ropes early in rounds four and five and worked him over with both hands. Kinsey was unable to muster much in return.
Two hard left hooks from Wilson early in the sixth rocked Kinsey, and a right-left-right-left combo sent Kinsey back as the bout ended.
The final scores were 60-54 and 59-55 (twice) for Wilson, who was decked out in trunks designed by boxer/entrepreneur Simon “One Punch” Carr and his recently established “Punchline” clothing line.
Bryan hammers Bergeron
Jeremy Bryan (12-0, 5 KOs), of Paterson, NJ landed everything but the kitchen sink on durable Gary “Southern Pride” Bergeron (10-5, 6 KOs), of New Orleans, LA en-route to a fourth round stoppage in a scheduled six round junior welterweight bout.
Bergeron offered little resistance other than a solid chin. With Bergeron throwing very little and landing even less, Bryan teed-off from the beginning, and had his way in every round. Finally, at 2:31 of round four, an overhand right from Bryan buckled Bergeron’s knees, and gave referee Sparkle Lee the impetus to halt the mismatch.
Martinez hammers Harvey.
In the opening bout of the evening, undefeated junior middleweight prospect Steve Martinez of the Bronx, New York raised his record to (2-0, 2 KOs) with a devastating second round knockout of debuting, Stanley “No Limits” Harvey of Norfolk, VA.
Martinez, a 2008 National Golden Gloves champion, looked sharp in the early going with crisp one-two combinations which slowed the attack of Harvey in the opening round. It was clear as round two began, who was the superior fighter as Steve Martinez mixed in hooks to the body with razor like right hands up the middle. An uppercut stunned Stanley Harvey in mid-round and forced him to retreat to the ropes. Martinez looked like a seasoned pro as he immediately stepped in and sent Harvey to the canvas with a blistering four punch combination. Harvey rose to his feet and was on slightly unsteady feet, but Referee Steve Smoger took a look and declared Harvey could continue. It was to no avail though, as just moments later, Martinez pinned Harvey against the ropes and sent him crashing to the canvas with a sledge hammer like overhand right. This time Steve Smoger immediately stepped in and called a halt to the bout without a count. The time of the knockout occurred at 2:04 of the second round.