ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- The Arturo Gatti era is over.
It ended brutally at the hands of Alfonso Gomez, the popular first-season contestant on "The Contender" reality series who threw a cold dose of reality on Gatti Saturday night.
Gomez punished Gatti before stopping him with a tremendous right hand in the seventh round of their welterweight fight at Boardwalk Hall.
It was a savage display from Gomez, 26, who handed Gatti, 35, his third knockout loss in four fights and brought the curtain down on a memorable career.
Gatti did not speak to the media after the fight but the former junior lightweight and junior welterweight titleholder announced his retirement in the dressing room in the arena where he built a rabid fan base and faced Micky Ward in two of their three epic fights.
"I'm coming back -- as a spectator," Gatti said in a statement.
Gatti's retirement came on a night when the crowd of 9,438 was the smallest he has drawn in nine consecutive bouts at Boardwalk Hall, and it's hard to imagine them showing up again to see their hero take another beating if he decided to continue.
Kathy Duva, the CEO of Main Events, which promoted Gatti for his entire career, was happy with Gatti's decision.
"I feel closure," Duva said. "He needed to know it was time to stop and he knows it now. He didn't hesitate [to retire]. We endorse it, as does [manager] Pat Lynch, 1,000 percent. We all wish it could go on forever, but it can't. We will all remember the fights of the year and all the thrills he gave us. Tonight will hurt for a while, but at least [we] all know it's time and there is no doubt now."
Gomez, who fights in the same brawling style that made Gatti a star, dished out a terrible beating and was leading on all three scorecards (60-54, 58-56 and 58-56) when the fight was stopped.
"A loss against me pretty much sends him into retirement," said Gomez, an admitted Gatti fan. "I hope he retires. I always admired him because of how he fought. Julio Cesar Chavez [Sr.], Diego Corrales, may he rest in peace, and Gatti. I admired them all because of their heart."
In the seventh, Gomez continued to land punches with both hands almost at will as he had in previous rounds. He had Gatti reeling badly, unloading more than 20 unanswered blows, many of which connected.
Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs), fighting for the first time since he was knocked out by then-champion Carlos Baldomir 11 months ago, tried to mount a rally. His punches, however, had nothing on them. Meanwhile, Gomez (17-3-2, 8 KOs) continued to blast Gatti while referee Randy Neumann showed no interest in stopping it, nor did Gatti's corner, headed for the first time by rival-turned-buddy Ward.
Finally, Gomez landed a crunching right hand and Gatti slithered down the ropes into a heap on the floor. Neumann began to count but Larry Hazzard, commissioner of the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, took matters into his own hands by climbing into the ring and stopping it himself at 2:12.
"I knew from watching Gatti's fights with [Floyd] Mayweather and Baldomir that he eats right hands all night long," Gomez said. "I hurt him upstairs and downstairs. It was just a matter of time. I told everyone I was the stronger fighter. I wasn't even winded in the seventh round."
Gomez landed 40 of 62 power shots in the seventh round and 216 of 471 total blows in the fight (46 percent). Gatti, who earned $1.7 million, could only connect on 74 of 358 punches (21 percent), according to CompuBox statistics.
Gomez, who earned $200,000, was surprised nobody rescued Gatti in the seventh round.
"I was looking out of the corner of my eye to see if Micky Ward would step in and stop it," Gomez said. "He's his friend and he loves him, but they didn't stop it and I continued to throw punches. He was taking a lot of shots. It looked like the referee liked him and wouldn't stop it. I did my job."
Gomez's victory destroyed the prospect of Gatti facing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on pay-per-view in November. It's a fight that Gomez would like in Gatti's place.
"Chavez Jr. would be the best next opponent for me. I really want a crack at him," Gomez said. "Gatti was supposed to fight him, so why not me?"
Cintron destroys Matthysse
Kermit Cintron showed off his trademark devastating power, blowing away mandatory challenger Walter Matthysse with a brutal highlight-reel knockout in the second round to retain his version of the welterweight title.
When the three-knockdown carnage was over, Cintron and trainer Emanuel Steward called out Shane Mosley, a star welterweight without a fall dance partner lined up.
"I want Shane because I believe he is one of the best out there and now he's back in the welterweight division," Cintron said. "I fought my fight tonight. I'm not hurt. I'm ready to take it to the next level."
Cintron (28-1, 26 KOs), a Puerto Rico native living in Reading, Pa., wasted little time in the first defense of the vacant belt he won by knocking out Mark Suarez in the sixth round on Oct. 28, 2006.
He dominated the first round and finished it by knocking down Matthysse (26-2, 25 KOs), of Argentina, at the end of the round with a hard overhand right.
Matthysse, 28, whose only other loss came via 10th-round TKO against Paul Williams on HBO in May 2006, beat the count but the round ended before Cintron could attack again.
"I knew I had him after I landed the first right hand," Cintron, 27, said.
Matthysse was still hurt when the second round began and Citron ended it just 29 seconds into the round with a vicious four-punch combination that ended with Matthysse out cold on the mat as medical personnel hovered over him. He would leave the ring under his own power.
In the opening seconds of the second round, Cintron floored Matthysse with another flush right hand. Matthysse went to his knees, but popped up quickly, and although he was wobbly, referee Earl Morton gave him the benefit of the doubt and allowed the match to continue.
It didn't for long.
Cintron nailed Matthysse with a right hand, a right uppercut, a left and another right to flatten Matthysse in a knockout-of-the-year-type annihilation.
"I wasn't surprised at all," Steward said. "Kermit is a sharp shooter. He is becoming a very accurate puncher."
Cintron, however, was surprised.
"I wasn't expecting it to end that quickly," said Cintron, who trained for the fight in Austria in the camp of heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko, whom Steward also trains. "Emanuel told me to be cautious and to use my left jab. Emanuel is the best."
While Steward quickly left the ring, changed into a tuxedo and went to ringside to assume his position as an HBO analyst for Gatti-Gomez, Cintron gave him much of the credit for his improvement since his only loss, a one-sided fifth-round knockout loss to titlist Antonio Margarito in April 2005.
"The Margarito fight was nothing. This is the real Kermit," Cintron said, who has worked with Steward for the past three fights. "I've shown a lot of improvement. My punches weren't wild. I felt really good and really strong. We're working on throwing a lot more combinations. It showed tonight. Working with Emanuel Steward has brought the real Kermit out."
• Middleweight prospect Giovanni Lorenzo (25-0, 17 KOs) continued to feast on lesser opponents, overwhelming Sherwin Davis (18-5, 12 KOs) for a third-round knockout.
Lorenzo, who had been considered as an opponent for middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor, knocked Davis down twice in the second and two more times in the third, the final knockdown resulting in a 10-count with Davis sitting on his backside against the ropes at 2:56.
It was Davis' fourth consecutive loss and fifth loss in his last six bouts, all by knockout.
• Bantamweight prospect Raul Martinez (19-0, 13 KOs) easily dominated Evaristo Primero (14-11-1, 7 KOs), who retired after the fifth round.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.