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Gatti to face Gomez in return on HBO tripleheader

If you like welterweight fights, circle July 14 on the calendar, when HBO will televise a rare split-site tripleheader.

Plans for the complicated broadcast came together Wednesday evening, when HBO and promoter Main Events finally came to an agreement on the opponent for action star Arturo Gatti. He will fight Alfonso Gomez, a first-season star of "The Contender" reality series who has a brawling style similar to Gatti's.

The night shapes up like this:

•  Gatti (40-8, 31 KOs), a former junior lightweight and junior welterweight titlist, will face Gomez (16-3-2, 7 KOs) in a 10-round bout in the main event of a card at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., where Gatti will fight for the ninth consecutive time.

•  The card will open with welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron (27-1, 25 KOs) making the first defense of his belt against mandatory challenger Walter Matthysse (26-1, 25 KOs) of Argentina.

•  When the action in Atlantic City concludes, HBO will go live to the West Coast, where welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito (34-4, 24 KOs) will make his eighth defense against mandatory challenger Paul Williams (32-0, 24 KOs) in a much-anticipated bout on a Goossen Tutor-promoted card.

Margarito-Williams will take place either at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., or at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, Calif., which are both in greater Los Angeles.

HBO and Main Events had spent the last few weeks locked in a disagreement over Gatti's opponent. The network had pared its wish list down to having Gatti fight either former lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora, who is 2-0 on a comeback, or Steve Forbes, another former "Contender" star and former junior lightweight titlist who lost a highly controversial decision to Demetrius Hopkins last month in an exciting fight.

Gatti's team didn't like either style for him and preferred lesser opponents such as Dmitriy Salita or Edgar Santana, neither of whom HBO would approve.

HBO gave Main Events a tentative OK on Gomez earlier this month and it made a deal with his handlers. But a few days later, on April 7, "Contender" first-season runner up Peter Manfredo -- who had lost a rematch to Gomez on the series -- was wiped out in three rounds by super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe.

That loss gave HBO second thoughts about using another untested "Contender" boxer against Gatti in the final fight of his HBO contract.

However, when the Margarito-Williams fight came together and Cintron-Matthysse, another potentially explosive fight, was pitched for the telecast, HBO agreed to take Gomez.

With Gatti's HBO contract coming to an end, Main Events also agreed to give HBO the right of first negotiation and a matching right on his next fight.

"He's a tough guy and it will be a tough fight, but his style suits Arturo better than Spadafora or Forbes," Gatti manager Pat Lynch told ESPN.com. "We're just happy to have it done and move on to the July 14 fight. I know Gomez can be a dangerous guy. He has a good chin, a good left hand and a good left uppercut. We know what we are in for."

It will be Gatti's first fight since he was knocked out in the ninth round challenging then-world welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir in July 2006.

Jeff Wald of "The Contender" promotional group is just happy to see his fighter get an opportunity, regardless of how it came about.

"We're very excited about fighting a legend like Arturo Gatti," Wald told ESPN.com. "We look forward to a great night of boxing in Atlantic City. I can tell you that Alfonso Gomez is thrilled.

Gomez is a big fan of Arturo Gatti's. He has nothing but respect and love for him."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com