Johnny Tapia would have been proud.
Or, looking down, maybe he actually was.
On a damp – OK, wet – and blustery Friday night on the West Side, Albuquerque welterweight boxer Josh Torres pounded out a victory by unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Reggie Harris Jr.
The judges scored the bout 78-74, 80-72 and 77-75.
Torres improved his record to 24-7-2 with 14 knockouts. Harris, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is 7-1 (three KOs).
The card, staged outdoors at Paradise Hills Golf Course, was scheduled to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Tapia’s death. The legendary Albuquerque boxer died on May 27, 2012, at age 45.
Before the five-time world champion’s death, Torres trained at Tapia’s gym.
“Johnny was with us tonight,” Torres said in the ring afterward.
Friday’s card was successful despite the weather.
The skies opened wide at around 5:30 p.m., while an amateur boxing card was in progress, and rain continued to fall intermittently throughout the evening.
The ring and all the seating were kept dry, however, underneath a canopy.
Harris on Thursday had weighed in at 148.8 pounds, 1.8 pounds over the contracted weight. Unable to make 147 after a two-hour grace period, he was required to forfeit $150 of his contracted pay to Torres.
In the semi-main event, Albuquerque’s Matthew Griego-Ortega (12-0, eight KOs) made an impressive return to the ring after a 26-month layoff, outboxing California veteran Gilberto Mendoza (19-13-3, 10 KOs) over six rounds.
The judges scored it 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56.
Asked how he’d rate his performance after the long hiatus, Griego said, “I’d say seven out of ten. (Mendoza) was tough, I knew he’d be tough. … I’ve got things to work on to get better, just like any other fighter.”
In other bouts:
Maximus Moya, (2-0, two KOs), Albuquerque, defeated Carlos Ramirez (pro debut), Fort Stockton, Texas, by first-round TKO in a lightweight bout.
Daniel Gonzales (2-0, two KOs), Albuquerque, defeated El Paso’a David Espino (0-2) by unanimous decision in a four-round junior middleweight bout.
In the first New Mexico Athletic Commission-sanctioned bare-knuckle fight in the Albuquerque area, Christopher Zakhari of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, (1-0 as a bare-knuckle fighter, 4-2 in MMA) defeated Wyoming’s Terrance Brown (3-2) by second-round TKO.
In the opening bout, Moya made quick work of the amateurish Ramirez. After the mismatch, the Gonzales-Espino battle was a welcome change.
Gonzales dropped Espino with a body shot in the first round, but the Espino would not go away. He took Gonzales through four tough rounds, giving almost as good as he got. The bout was far more competitive round by round than the scorecards (40-35, 40-35, 38-37) suggested.
In the bare-knuckle fight, as the two heavyweights pawed at each other, Brown appeared to have slightly the better of a quiet first round. But in the second, a Zakhari punch opened a deep gash in Brown’s forehead. The bout was stopped at the 16-second mark.
AMATEURS: A seven-bout amateur card preceded the pro card.
In the main event, Nicco Tapia, the youngest of Johnny and promoter Teresa Tapia’s three sons, lost by split decision to fellow Albuquerquean Juan Manuel Lopez.
Nicco Tapia, unlike his late father a southpaw, lost the first two rounds on the Journal’s card. But in the third, perhaps fired up when Lopez ignored Tapia’s extended glove in salute at the beginning of the round, Tapia rallied to put the decision in doubt.
Earlier, two boxers, Ivan Barragan and Marcelino Delgado, both fighting for Power Plant, secured spots on the New Mexico team for NM-Colorado Golden Gloves Regionals.
MMA: In Austin, Texas, New Mexicans Tim Means and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone weighed in successfully, as did their opponents, for their fights Saturday on UFC Fight Night card.
Cerrone (36-16) weighed in at 155 pounds for his lightweight (155 plus 1 for non-title bouts) fight against Joe Lauzon (28-15), who weighed 154.75.
Means (32-12-1) weighed 170.5 pounds for his welterweight (170 plus 1) fight against Kevin Holland (22-7), who weighed 170.