Tapia Unhappy the Last Time
By Dennis Latta
Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer
LAS VEGAS, Nev. New Mexico's Johnny Tapia is looking forward to a
The last time, he felt it was four-on-one and didn't like the odds.
Tapia (48-1-2) will face Texan Paulie Ayala (30-1) on Saturday night at
the MGM Grand in a rematch of the only professional fight Tapia has ever
lost. On June 26, 1999, Ayala was awarded a unanimous decision over Tapia in
a bout fought down the street from the MGM Grand at Mandalay Bay.
Tapia believes he won that fight and was cheated. So, he's interested in
who the referee and judges will be this time.
Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission,
is the man in charge of arranging for the officials.
''The referee will be Richard Steele,'' says Ratner. ''All three of the
judges are from Nevada. They're Jerry Roth, Chuck Giampa and Keith
Steele is a proven veteran who'll set a record for working the most
title fights by doing No. 163 on Saturday. His credentials are impeccable.
''I think the three judges have 300 world title fights between them,''
Ratner says. ''None of them worked the first fight. These are all new
''It's our job to pick them. We discussed them with Jesse Reid (Tapia's
trainer). I talked with Scott Sherman (Ayala's manager), and he said they
Tapia believes Bob Arum, president of Ayala's promoter, Top Rank, had
influence over the judges in their first bout.
''I had a talk with Mister Ratner,'' Reid says. ''I felt Johnny had won
the last four rounds in their first fight, but they gave the last one to
Paulie. I wanted to make sure the people had no ties.''
Tapia seems content with the choices.
''We talked with Mister Ratner," Tapia says. "I just want them to score
right. I'm not asking for favoritism. I just want them to be fair.''
The opening fight on the card will have Albuquerque's Danny Romero
(39-3-1) fighting Jorge Reyes (21-15-2) of Juarez, Mexico, in a non-title
Reyes is 1-8-1 in his last 10 fights. He was 20-7-1 before that string.
Romero is getting tired of people complaining about his opponents.
''I have no control over this," he says. "They only budgeted $5,000, and
this guy is the best one they could find.
''I'm on the way to my next world title,'' adds Romero, who has held
crowns at 112 and 115 pounds. This bout is at 122 pounds.
''Stay tuned,'' he says.
Romero is planning to be aggressive, which was his normal way of
''I've gone back to my old style where I let everything fly," he says.
"I want to get in there and crunch his head and put him out. I feel the
right attitude, and I'm going to put that attitude on the right spot on
Romero hasn't fought since May 6 when he won on a unanimous decision in
''I feel real good about everything," Romero says. "I want to kick
somebody's butt. He's in for a quick night. This is a tuneup for me. This is
an important time for me. This fight could be dangerous.''
Arum says ticket sales are going well.
''We've sold well over 4,000," he says. "We're expecting between 6,000
and 7,000 tickets sold. We're looking for a big walkup (today) and