16
Oct
2019

Arturo Gatti, Chad Dawson among Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2019

RINGSIDE 11/10/2019
Gatti Ward

📸 HBO

The Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame (CBHOF) has announced its six-member Class of 2019 to be inducted during the 15th annual CBHOF Gala Induction Dinner on Saturday night, November 9, in the Uncas Ballroom at Mohegan Sun.

The new CBHOF inductees are boxers Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, “Bad” Chad Dawson, Delvin Rodriguez, Eddie Campo and Teddy “Redtop” Davis, as well as referee Arthur Mercante, Sr.

“Once again,” CBHOF president John Laudati said, “the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame has elected a great class of Inductees. The 2019 class includes giants of the sport such as Arturo Gatti and Arthur Mercante, Sr., modern era stars in Delvin Rodriguez and ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson and historically significant fighters Teddy “Red Top” Davis and Eddie Compo. We look forward to seeing all of our boxing fans, family and friends at our gala induction dinner at Mohegan Sun on November 9th. ”

Not many remember the first time Hall of Famer Gatti fought in Connecticut. It was in August of 1998. Looking to snap a three-fight losing streak, Gatti took on the 21-3 Reyes Munoz. If you went for a hotdog you might have missed the first-round TKO for Gatti. The second appearance in Connecticut was far more memorable.

It was the first in his trilogy with CBHOF member Micky Ward. The rousing affair at the Mohegan Sun Arena was the Fight of the Year in many publications. Ward won a majority decision, but the heart Gatti showed to withstand a brutal barrage in a scintillating Round 9 will forever stay in the minds of the fans who were there that night.

Gatti would go on to win the next two fights with Ward. He also beat the 54-3-1 Tracy Harris Patterson to win the IBF super featherweight title. One of his successful title defenses came against the 44-3 Gabriel Ruelas. Gatti moved up to welterweight to take on Oscar De La Hoya, losing by TKO, but earning more respect for his grit.

In 2005, Gatti beat Jesse James Leija to capture the WBC super lightweight title. Who did he lose it to? None other than the incomparable Floyd Mayweather Jr. in June of 2005. Gatti had a record of 40-9-0 before his tragic death at the age of 37 in July of 2009.

Dawson’s spectacular career of New Haven light heavyweight product Dawson was appropriately launched at the home for the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame. After a sterling amateur career, Dawson made his pro debut on Aug. 18, 2001 at the Mohegan Sun Casino. He scored a second-round TKO over Steve Garrett.

Six of his first 10 fights were at the Mohegan Sun. Twenty one of his 41 fights have been in Connecticut. It was a meteoric rise for Dawson, who began his career 29-0. After beating CBHOF member Eric Harding to capture the NABF light heavyweight title in 2006, Dawson was ready for the 31-0 WBC light heavyweight champion Tomasz Adamek.

It was no contest. Dawson battered Adamek in winning the unanimous decision in 2007, hastening the talk of him being one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world at the age of 25. Dawson would go on to defeat some of sport’s heavy hitters. He twice made successful title defenses against Glenn Johnson. He twice beat Antonio Tarver for the IBF and IBO light heavyweight titles.

He twice fought the legendary Bernard Hopkins. The first bout Dawson appeared to be winning easily, but it was ruled a no contest. He beat Hopkins easily in the rematch. Dawson was 32-1 when he decided to drop in weight to take on WBC and WBA super middleweight champ Andre Ward, losing by TKO. Dawson remains active with a 37-5 record.

If you look up the word action in the dictionary, don’t be surprised if you see a Rodriguez’ picture. The Danbury product always gave people their money’s worth in a career where he won 19 of his first 21 bouts, including a TKO of 21-2 Luis Hernandez in a bout in May of 2006 that gave Rodriguez the USBA welterweight title.

He lost his first title defense against Jesse Feliciano but showed his resilience by beating the 26-2 Oscar Diaz in his hometown of San Antonio to regain the USBA welterweight crown. Not only did Rodriguez beat Diaz in his own backyard, he knocked Diaz out in the 11th round in July of 2008.

In March of 2009, Rodriguez would make a successful defense of his title by defeating a 20-1 Shamone Alvarez at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Rodriguez would eventually fight for the WBA super welterweight title, losing a decision to the 24-0 Austin Trout in 2012. In 2013, Rodriguez got a shot at the rugged Miguel Cotto, losing by a TKO. Rodriguez, who also dabbles in broadcasting, finished his career in 2017 with a 29-9-4 record.

Eddie Campagnuolo, aka Eddie Campo, had more letters in his last name than he did defeats in an outstanding professional career. If the name Campagnuolo doesn’t ring a bell, that’s because the featherweight boxer who was born and lived most of his life in New Haven would change his name to Eddie Compo.

He wasn’t known as a fearsome puncher with just 14 knockouts in an 11-year career, but his winning percentage is one of the best in boxing history. Compo was 75-10-4. Compo would beat CBHOF inductees Teddy “Redtop” Davis, Julie Kogon, and Chico Vejar in a career where he took on all comers. Compo won his first 25 professional fights, many at the New Haven Arena.

There was plenty of buzz around Compo’s world featherweight title fight with CBHOF inductee Willie Pep at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury in September of 1949. That’s because Compo was 57-1-3. Pep was 141-2-1. It may have been the only bout in the history of boxing where the two combatants combined for just under 200 wins with a mere 3 defeats. Pep won with a 7th-round TKO. Compo retired in 1955 and lived to the age of 69 before passing away in 1998.

Born Murray Cain in South Carolina in 1923, Davis struggled at the beginning of his career as a featherweight in the Midwest. He won only one of his first nine professional bouts. But a shift to New England turned his career around. He first made a name for himself by taking the legendary Willie Pep the distance in back-to-back fights in Hartford in 1948.

In 1953, Davis captured the USA New England Light title with a victory over the 49-3-1 George Araujo in Boston. Just one month later, Davis made a successful title defense against Araujo in Madison Square Garden. In 1954, Davis would make successful title defenses in Waterbury and New Haven.

It wasn’t until 1958 that Davis lost a title fight, bowing to Steve Ward in a bout for the New England Super Light title in Hartford. Davis would also take on the likes of Sandy Saddler, Eddie Compo, and Tony DeMarco in a solid career that spanned 14 years. Davis may have hung on a bit too long. He went 4-22-1 in his final 27 fights, causing his career record to end up at 71-75-6. He was just 42 when he died in 1966.

After refereeing more than 140 world title fights in 47 years, Mercante Sr. retired at the age of 81 in 2001. He would stay around the sport, accompanying his son Arthur Jr. to a fight card in Connecticut in 2004. As related in a 2010 espn.com story by Wallace Matthews, Mercante Jr., also a referee, heard a thump on the floor while staying in a Connecticut hotel with his dad.


 

Fearing the worst, Mercante Jr. scurried to see if his dad had fallen to the floor. “I looked over and he’s down there doing push-ups,” Mercante Jr. related. Mercante Sr. was 84 at the time but he had lost none of the toughness that made him what the New York Times called the “most prominent referee in of the past half century” after the elder Mercante passed away in 2010. Mercante Sr. is best known for being the referee in the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight in New York in 1971, but he had New England roots.

Mercante Sr. was born in Brockton, Mass., where he was a childhood friend of Rocky Marciano. Mercante was also in the Navy, where his commanding officer was Gene Tunney, a former heavyweight champion of the world and a member of the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame. Mercante has also been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Tickets for the CBHOF 15th annual Gala Induction Dinner, reasonably priced at $90.00, are on sale and available to purchase by calling Ann Murphy at Mohegan Sun (1.860.862.8846) or Sherman Cain at 1.860.212.9029. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. ET, followed by a full sit-down dinner at 7 p.m. ET.

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