In the summer of 1997, a boxing match between two Albuquerqueans – Johnny Tapia and Danny Romero – was spirited away to Las Vegas, Nev., because of concerns about fan violence if the fight were to take place here.
Tonight, with no fan violence wanted or anticipated, a mini-version of that memorable fight will be contested at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
OK, it’s true that neither Josh Torres nor Ranee Ganoy has reached the boxing heights of a Romero or a Tapia.
And the intracity connection that made Tapia-Romero so compelling is muted in tonight’s main event. Torres is an Albuquerque native; Ganoy is a native of the Philippines who lived in Australia for a decade before moving here six months ago.
Nor is there the enmity that spiced Tapia-Romero. During the buildup to tonight’s fight, Torres and Ganoy have treated each other with the utmost respect.
Yet, simply in terms of styles, Torres-Ganoy does have that Tapia-Romero flavor.
To defeat Ganoy, Torres will have to pull a Tapia.
On that long-ago night in Vegas, Tapia blunted the power of one of the hardest punchers in the sport. And he did it, for most of that fight, while standing right in front of his powerful foe.
That’s the sort of fight plan that Torres and trainer Daniel Perez – while not offering specifics – have in mind for the power-punching Ganoy (36-11-2, 32 knockouts) tonight.
Getting into a slugging match with Ganoy, Perez said, is a bad idea.
Turning a fight into track meet, he said, is a worse one.
“We’re not gonna run from Ganoy,” said Perez, a pro boxing contemporary of Tapia and Romero’s who finished his career with a 19-4 record. “Josh will be there to box him, and show him a little bit of our power, too.
“We’ll be there to give the fans what they want.”
In training Torres for tonight’s fight, Perez used his own Tapia-Romero moment as something of a blueprint.
In 1991, Perez – then a 20-year-old middleweight with a 7-1 record – fought hard-punching veteran Alberto Gonzalez on an ESPN card in Shelby, Mont.
“I had to prepare myself for that fight the way I’m preparing Josh for this fight,” he said, “and I ended up winning a unanimous decision.”
Tonight’s bout, scheduled for 10 rounds, is for the World Boxing Council’s USNBC junior welterweight title. For Torres (13-3-2, six KOs), it’s his third attempt to win a WBC belt. The first two resulted in loss and a draw.
“That green belt is in my mind, and I’m hungry for it,” he said after Friday’s weigh-in. “I want it, and I’ve said before, the third time is a charm.
“I’m gonna make (the title) mine, and that belt is here to stay in Albuquerque.”
Jacob Maes, Ganoy’s manager, is on record as believing his fighter has too much power and too much experience for Torres. But, he adds, Ganoy didn’t win his last 11 fights by taking anyone lightly.
“(Tonight’s fight) is something we’ve got to win,” Maes said, “and we don’t underestimate anybody.
“It’s a title fight, but we have bigger dreams. So, this is just another fight to get us to where we want to go.”
Torres weighed in Friday at 139 pounds, Ganoy at 139.6.
THEN THERE WERE FOUR: Los Lunas super flyweight Brandi Montoya, a United States Marine corporal stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, withdrew from her scheduled bout tonight after suffering a torn ligament.
Montoya’s withdrawal leaves promoter Joe Chavez with just four bouts.
In addition to the main event, scheduled bouts are:
- Alex Holguin (3-1, two KOs) vs. Mike Turrietta (pro debut), both of Albuquerque, lightweights;
- Jose Osorio, (3-2, two KOs) Albuquerque, vs. Alex Hipolito (3-3, two KOs), Lubbock, Texas, featherweights;
- Ricky Villafuerte (0-3), Albuquerque, vs. Ambrosio Bautista (record and hometown unavailable), light heavyweights.
The Osorio-Hipolito bout has been elevated to a six-round semi-main event. The other two undercard bouts are scheduled for four rounds.
TOO HEAVY: Turrietta weighed in at 138.2 pounds, more than 5 pounds over the contracted limit for his bout with Holguin.
Tom King, chairman of the New Mexico Athletic Commission, said the NMAC is allowing the bout to go on, since not doing so would reduce the card to three fights. But Turrietta has been fined 20 percent of his purse and will be required to forfeit another $200 to Holguin.
King said the NMAC likely will suspend Turrietta for an as yet unspecified length of time.