Teresa Tapia's co-promoter accused of writing bad checks after February card at Rio Rancho Events Center - Albuquerque Journal

Teresa Tapia’s co-promoter accused of writing bad checks after February card at Rio Rancho Events Center

Albuquerque’s Jason Sanchez, left, goes toe to toe with Rafael Reyes during action on Tapia Fight Nights Bouts card at the Santa Ana Events Center on Feb. 24. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

An ill-fated partnership between promoters has left many of the 16 pro boxers who performed on a Feb. 24 card at the Rio Rancho Events Center without some or all of the pay they were contracted to receive.

Albuquerque’s Teresa Tapia, the promoter of record, told the Journal she’s doing “everything I can to make things right” after Kansas promoter Joe Kelly wrote bad checks that night after the event.

Kelly did not respond to phone messages left by the Journal.

Tapia, who has been promoting in New Mexico since 2011, entered into a partnership with Kelly because Kelly had previously done business with Triller, a company that streamed the February 24 card on Fite TV.

Kelly was eager to promote a show in Albuquerque, Tapia said, and eventually came to an agreement with the Events Center.

Initially, Tapia said, she was expecting money up front from Kelly to pay for fighters’ travel, lodging, per diem, publicity, etc., but never received it. At that point, she said, it was agreed that Kelly, who has been promoting in Kansas since 2004, would pay the boxers’ purses with the exception of Albuquerqueans Josh Torres and Lorenzo Benavidez, who were to be paid by Tapia Promotions.

After the card, said Albuquerque trainer/manager Steve Garcia, Kelly wrote checks and distributed them, including one to Garcia’s daughter, Jordanne, who’d fought on the card.

“He wrote all the checks and they all bounced,” Garcia said. “… Some of these guys, that’s their living.”

Since then, Garcia said, his daughter has been paid in full by Tapia.

Tapia provided the Journal with paperwork showing that she has paid six of the 16 boxers in full and that four more have received partial payments.

Albuquerque trainer-manager Pepe Sanchez, whose sons Jason and José Luís performed on the card, said they have received a small percentage of the contracted amounts.

Torres, who has fought on Tapia-promoted cards in the past, told the Journal on Saturday that he has not been paid but is not concerned.

“I’m real close to Teresa, so we pretty much have an agreement that she’s trying to get everything settled and taken care of,” Torres said, “because I know she’s not going anywhere.

“… She’s trying to chip away at it, because it was a large card.”

Tapia said she derived no profits from the Triller streaming and that the Events Center was paid though the evening’s gate receipts. The show was sparsely attended, though attendance and paid-gate figures were not available on Monday.

“All payments for (the) show and to fighters are being paid by me personally,” Tapia said on Monday via text.

Earlier, in a phone interview on Saturday, Tapia said she had “learned a very harsh lesson.”

She has extensive documentation, she said, of what had been agreed to by Kelly in advance of the show.

Joe Chavez, chairman of the New Mexico Athletic Commission, which oversees professional boxing and MMA for the state, said the investigatory process into what happened on Feb. 24 and its aftermath is just beginning. Chavez has been a boxing promoter as well as a commissioner, and he said he has never dealt with a situation like this one.

The commission, he said, has never before encountered a similar problem with a Tapia promotion.

Chavez said he was unaware until late last week that Kelly was even involved with the card, since the event was approved under Tapia’s license.

Tapia, the widow of the late Albuquerque world champion Johnny Tapia, has two sons, one of whom, Nicco, is an amateur boxer who performed on the 24th card.

“That’s what hurts me,” she said, “because I have a son that’s fighting and I have Johnny’s legacy. Why would I taint it over something this stupid?

“… I have nothing to hide. I feel bad that this has happened, because the only ones that are hurting are the fighters. I’m trying to do everything I can to rectify that.”

She said she has filed a report with the Rio Rancho Police Department and plans to contact the Attorney General’s office.

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