ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Boxing and mixed-martial arts have had a gravitational pull on many of the same athletes, trainers, promoters and fans.
Now they are coming together on the same card.
Johnny Tapia Presents has put together a card that will include both boxing and MMA fights Feb. 1 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It’s being promoted as the second part of the “Next Chapter Show,” a boxing card that was held in November.
Next Chapter Show, Part II,” a boxing and MMA card at Crowne Plaza Hotel. Five boxing matches, two MMA bouts are on the card. Tickets: See holdmyticket.com
The headliners will be boxers Hector Muñoz (20-9-1, 13 KOs) and Josh “Pit Bull” Torres (9-2-1, 4 KOs), both of whom have yet to be paired with opponents, in co-main event eight-round fights.
Lynae Lovato (0-2) and Josh Lanier (3-6) have signed on for MMA bouts, also against foes to be determined. Boxer Yorden Hernandez (6-4-1, 2 KOs) also needs an opponent.
The pairings that have been set are two boxing matches: Santa Fe’s Paul Castillo (1-0-0, 1 KO) versus Albuquerque’s Saunitu Houge, making his pro debut; and Moriarty’s Brenda Gonzales (2-0-0, 1 KO) against Las Vegas, N.M.’s Amanda Crespin (6-4-1, 2 KOs).
Promoters have tried boxing and MMA on the same card before locally, but not on this scale, and not with Tapia involvement.
“Johnny loved MMA,” Teresa Tapia, the card promoter and widow of the late five-time world boxing champion, said at Friday’s news conference at the hotel to announce the card. “He said it was like street fighting, and he’d been a street fighter.”
The planned venue is a five-rope ring that otherwise will look much like the standard boxing ring – 24 feet squared on the outside, 22 feet squared inside the ring, said Lenny Lovato. He is the one making the pitch to the New Mexico Athletic Commission to get approval on the ring during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting next Tuesday.
“It’s a adjustment for the MMA people because they’re used to a cage,” said Lovato, father of Lynae and MMA fighter Lenny Jr.
“In Japan, they have an MMA league, and they’re the ones that started it off with a five-rope ring. It’s a little bit of an adjustment, but it’s competitive; it’s doable.”
Muñoz suggested that his “Next Chapter Show” appearance will tune him up for an ESPN-televised card in March. He likes being on the dual-sport card and, if presented with the right opportunity (read, UFC), could see MMA in his future.
“I just like to fight,” Muñoz said.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal