PHILADELPHIA – Sonny Conto doesn’t like going back there to that dark time. Though, he can still remember it well. How dry the street was that summer night in 2015, the kind of tranquil evening that’s enough to make anyone’s mind wonder a little bit. The problem was the wayward mind happened to belong to the woman driving behind Conto.
The Philadelphia heavyweight had waited to make a turn into a development when he was rammed from behind. The jolt shook Conto, though, at the time, he did nothing about.
For a moment, he saw his future flash before his eyes. It took him about a week to actually feel the pain. He underwent an operation, which left a faded scar on his lower back.
It’s a physical mark that never touched his psyche.
Today, it’s the towering 6-foot-4, 220-pound Conto who brings the pain.
On Saturday night, Conto (1-0, 1 knockout) will be taking on Omar Acosta (1-5, 1 KO) in a four-round heavyweight fight as part of the undercard featuring the Top Rank show main event between WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 knockouts) and Doudou Ngumbu (38-8, 14 KOs) on ESPN (10 p.m. ET).
Conto, 23, will not be the main event, but he will be the main attraction, considering the native South Philadelphian will be fighting for a second time at the 2300 Arena in South Philly.
“This is the biggest stage I’ve been on so far in my young career,” Conto said. “I’m pretty calm. This is what I worked for my whole life, and I’m in Philly to do it.
“I wasn’t really pleased with my performance in my first fight. I felt like I was rushing and I was sloppy. This time, I plan on being calmer and establishing my jab. I want to take over the fight early and work from there.
“I guess my emotions got the better of me the first time. There were a lot of people there for me and I wanted to give them the best show, and I was pretty psyched up. This time around, I’m going to make the adjustments and come in calmer.”
In Acosta, Conto is facing a fighter who’s been stopped the last three times he’s been in the ring. So, om paper, it looks as if Conto may have the perfect softball to bang out of the park.
But it’s a priority for him to get some rounds in and feel more in control. This is another test in his maturation process.
“Sonny has it all,” said Conto’s trainer, Mickey Rosati. “It’s rare to see a heavyweight move the way Sonny does. Sonny was excited the first time he fought. The other guy didn’t give us much.
“We’re looking for Sonny to show his skill, to use his jab and establish that. Sonny moves really well, and what makes someone like Sonny hard to find is he’s a heavyweight who can move and hit you hard.”
Conto’s come light years from the gangly teenager who was staring his future in the face lying in a hospital bed.
“You know, I don’t like to think about those times that much, because they were dark times,” Conto admitted. “It was a negative time in my life, and I’m more of a positive person who surrounds himself with positivity.
“It’s like it never happened. I don’t feel like the car accident happened. Being in this hurt business, I expect more scars on my face. I’m going in there Saturday night and bring my best.”
When you’ve been through a scare like Conto has, it’s easy to expect nothing different.
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