All aboard! The Sonny Conto Express takes Philadelphia boxing fans on another jaunt. The South Philadelphia heavyweight makes his second straight appearance in the backyard boxing arena seemingly made for him, the Event Center at Live! Casino Philadelphia.
Conto (8-0, 7 KOs) puts his undefeated streak on the line against Mike Marshall (6-2-1, 4 KOs) of Danbury, CT, in a six-round heavyweight bout on Thursday, February 24th. His announced opponents are always subject to change, At this point of Conto’s career, it hardly matters who he fights. For Philadelphia fans, it just matters that he fights.
Tickets for his next headlining performance start at $50, $75 and $125. Fans must be 21 or older to attend. The card starts at 7 p.m.
A Philadelphia casino and a Philadelphia fighter, at last
Conto did more than break in the 1,000 seat Event Center at Live! by stopping Joel Caudle in three rounds of a scheduled six-round main event in November. He did more than usher in Philly’s casino-boxing marriage, a bond made famous in 1980s Atlantic City with a cast of Philadelphia characters.
As some of those participants looked on, including promoters Russell Peltz, Joe Hand Sr. and Jr., Conto launched a new thrill ride in a proud boxing city.
He brought boxing into the Philly casino age. Conto’s avid supporters, who jammed the restaurants, the gaming floor and the FanDuel sportsbook before and after the fight, advertised the perpetual boxing-casino marriage – gamblers are attracted to the one-on-one nature of combat sports.
Live! Casino Philadelphia is located in the South Philadelphia sports complex, home to the four professional teams. Now, it has a casino with an event center that can host boxing events giving a home “ring” advantage to boxers.
Joe Frazier never had the benefit of casinos in the 1970s. Bernard Hopkins later did, but in venues in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Philadelphia champions toured the world’s casinos in headlined bouts.
Sonny Conto has a home ring advantage
But Conto has a built-in audience, albeit 1,000 fans versus a 20,000-seat arena, but Live! Casino Philadelphia is home.
It’s far too early to tell whether Conto will follow the footsteps of the stars or be the real-life Rocky he’s cast as.
But one thing is certain. He lives at the right time, in the right place. Conto has realized a dream by headlining the arena he often jogged by when Live! was under construction.
Live! celebrated its one-year anniversary on Feb. 11. Pennsylvania gamblers have supported the FanDuel Sportsbook and Lounge on NFL Sundays and Thursday nights, played the 2,100 slots and electronic table games, the 150 live-action table games and the poker room. They’ve sampled the top-level dining and entertainment options, all of which thrive before and after a significant event.
Philadelphia fans are not just going to the fights. They are going to Sonny’s fights, to cheer one of their own. They root for South Philly’s Conto, who, for all intents and purposes, is also Live’s fighter.
Live! Casino is a year old and Conto is its first boxing star. Watch them grow up together.
In the near term, it makes sense for many Conto fights to be here. He gains a natural base of support, the casino makes an inexpensive purchase to lure gamblers through its doors and then has a chance to continually cultivate them through boxing.
At some point, Conto may branch off into other locations if his career grows. He may need bigger venues, more money.
But that’s off in the distance. This is the time for the casino and fighter to laud their new partnership.
Boxing at Live! Casino Philadelphia
Here’s the rest of the announced card:
- Super lightweights Daiyaan Butt (10-1, 5KO’s) of Philadelphia and Bryce Mills (7-1, 4KO’s) of Liverpool, NY will battle six rounds where Butt will look to extend his three-fight winning streak.
- Lightweight Jordon Murphy (1-0, 1KO) of Bensalem, PA will be making his second professional appearance competing in a four-round bout.
- The card will also feature super featherweight Frankie Trader (13-2-1, 3KO’s) of Philadelphia, PA competing in a six-round contest. Trader will look to continue to climb the ranks, as he has won three straight bouts since making his return from a four-and-a-half-year layoff and reuniting with his head trainer Aaron Ford.
- Super lightweights Christopher Burgos (3-4-1, 1KO) of Philadelphia, will battle Phillip Davis (2-5-1) in a six-round bout. Burgos won his last fight in an all-out war in a rematch against Gerardo Martinez and will look to build on that win to gain some momentum.
- Rounding out the card will be Gerardo Martinez (5-2, 1KO) of Coatesville going against Seifullah Jihad Wise (4-8, 1KO) of Philadelphia in a six-round bout.
Lead image c/o Live! Casino Philadelpha