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Arturo Gatti of Montreal, here posing for his fight with Oscar De La Hoya in 2001, was found dead in his hotel room on Saturday. ((Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press) )

The wife of former boxing champion Arturo Gatti has been detained by Brazilian authorities and formally accused of his killing.

Amanda Rodrigues, 23, has been detained as a suspect in the case, a police spokesperson told Reuters by telephone.

Milena Saraiva, a spokeswoman for the Pernambuco police, said Gatti appeared to have been strangled and also had sustained a head injury.

Gatti, 37, who grew up in Montreal, was found dead early Saturday in Porto de Galinhas in northeastern Brazil, where he was on a trip with his wife and infant son.

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Tributes pour in

"It's a massive loss, honestly, because I think it's fair to make the assessment that Arturo carried boxing on his shoulders for at least five years." — Montreal trainer, ex-fighter and friend Howard Grant, to CBC News. 

"There was a real bond between us. It’s why hearing this — hearing what happened to Arturo — is like a piece of you is gone because we shared so much of everything in the ring." — Rival and friend Micky Ward, to Ring Magazine. 

"It was a bolt from the blue — totally unexpected. I regarded him as a true friend and he was a great fighter." — British champ Ricky Hatton, to the British newspaper the Sun. 

"He was the greatest fan-friendly TV fighter I've ever been associated with in my 20-plus years in boxing. … He lived with an overabundance of passion. He fought hard. He lived hard. He played hard." — Promoter and former TV exec Lou DiBella, to the New York Daily News.

Rodrigues has denied any involvement in her husband's death, but the Pernambuco state civil police have found inconsistencies in her account of the hours leading up to the discovery of the ex-fighter's body.

Acelino (Popo) Freitas, the former Brazilian boxing champion, told Globo TV's website on Saturday that he was a close friend of Gatti and his wife and that the couple had been quarrelling of late.

Nicknamed "Thunder," Gatti was born in Italy but grew up in Montreal, where he learned to box.

He moved to New Jersey as a teen and embarked on a professional career marked by some of the most exciting bouts in recent years in the sport.

Known for his straightforward punching and granite-like chin, Gatti captured the junior lightweight title in 1995, when he defeated Tracy Harris Patterson in Atlantic City, N.J.

He later went on to win a junior welterweight belt in 2004 and fought losing efforts against the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

He cemented his reputation as one of the most exciting fighters in boxing history with an epic trilogy with Micky Ward, who later became a friend. He last fought in 2007 and compiled a career record of 40-9 and 31 knockouts.