Johnny Tapia Community Center at Wells Park Honors a “Duke City” Legend

By Austin Killeen  – (Click on pictures to enlarge.)

Due to pre-op, a surgical procedure and post op appointments my columns have been pushed back by several days.

Joe Chavez and Arthur Bueno

On Saturday morning, the Wells Park Community Center was officially renamed the “Johnny Tapia Community Center at Wells Park.” Wells Park is where Tapia played as a little boy and later worked as a recreation leader.  City Councilors Klarissa Peña and Ken Sanchez oversaw the event and the boxing card that followed. “Johnny always wanted to put Albuquerque on the map and we’re hoping to put these kids on the map as well,” said Peña. I’ve seen Councilor Peña in attendance at several fight cards over the years so it’s not suprising to see her at this event.  After the ceremony an amateur boxing card was held at Civic Plaza involving boxers from Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico. Joe Chavez was the promoter of the event and Arthur Bueno was the matchmaker. It proved to be an entertaining afternoon until the rains came and come they did. As a result of the downpour the last couple of matches had to be canceled for the safety of the boxers.

I dread going to amateur fights because there are so many fights I have to write about. However I always leave the venues impressed with the skill and enthusiasm displayed by the youngsters. Also the amateur boxers are the seeds that produce the pros I enjoy so much.  I must have been suffering from boxing judge Adalaide Byrd fever, because my score cards disagreed with many of the officials verdicts.  As with all amateur cards I cover, I’ll cover those contests that caught my eye first, with no disrespect to other contestants.

l-r) Rodriguez, Referee Burke, Ruiz

Bout #2, Moises Rodriguez (El Paso, TX) won a UD over Ramon Ruiz (Arizona). Rodriguez had a great first round behind nice combinations, solid defense and overall ring generalship. In the 2nd round Ruiz picked up the pace, but the defense and balance of Rodriguez allowed him to stay in control. In the final round Rodriguez displayed some excellent body punching and short right hands to the head. Ruiz had a solid right hand of his own and made this an excellent bout to watch. I thought Rodriguez looked very impressive, but don’t sleep on Ruiz; that boy can also fight. This was one of the best fights on the card.

l-r) Martinez, Burke, Moreu

Bout #3, Yoruba Moreu (Albuquerque) won by UD over Jeremiah Martinez (Colorado).  This was one of the best fights of the day.  I’ve seen Moreu fight many times and he always seems to draw a tough opponent. A southpaw, Moreu is a volume puncher who seems to rob his opponents of their rhythm. But Martinez was no ordinary opponent and didn’t seem fazed by his opponent’s style. The first two rounds were razor close and could have gone either way. Moreu threw more shots at Martinez, but the Colorado lad landed some clean counter punches. From my vantage point I felt Martinez won the final round by timing Moreu’s attack and scoring with clean counter punches. This was the first of many bouts, where I found myself on the wrong side of the official score cards.

l-r) Pope, Burke, Sanchez

Bout #14, Jared Pope (Punches Gym) won by decision over Carlos Sanchez (Castillo Boxing Team). This was another one of the best bouts of the day, because two live bodies were matched up and holding nothing back. The opening round was fought at a fast pace with Sanchez possibly having the edge. Both showed some defensive skills in the second round, but I was impressed by the combination punching of Pope. In the third round Pope scored with some nice rights to the head, in an otherwise close round. I liked the call, but felt bad that somebody had to lose.

l-r) Andres Jiron, Ref Rios, Ramon Guzman

Bout #6, Andres Jiron (Bear Knuckle) won by SD over Ramon Guzman (South Valley Boxing). The opening round was action packed but Jiron displayed some nice defensive moves when under attack. Guzman took a standing-8-count but fought back well. Jiron was a cool customer, looking good on offense and displayed some nice defense when he needed it. Jiron continued to do well in round 3 but suffered a bloody nose from the attacking Guzman. Guzman’s defense was his offense and it was good enough to carry the final round. I liked this bout.

l-r) La Riva, Ref Burke, King

Bout #14, William King (Punches Gym) won by TKO over Damien La Riva (CBT). This bout was dominated by the hard punching King. King has power in both hands and excellent balance which contributed to his superior clout. La Riva never stopped trying to turn the tide; I was impressed by his grit. When La Riva did mount an attack, King displayed some nice defensive skills. Referee Burke had seen enough after La Riva had taken his second standing-8-count, halting the contest at 1:35 of the second round. Keep your eye on King he could be a good pro if he’s not rushed.

l-r) Martinez, Ref Burke, Nez

Bout #1, Jermaine Nez (Punches Boxing) won by SD over Michael Martinez (Lil Brawlers) of Colorado. This was a very close bout that could have gone either way. Martinez opened the first round scoring with some nice punches to both the head and body. For his part Nez scored often with an overhand right. In the second round Nez scored with 1-2’s, while Martinez answered with single shots that had power. This was a difficult round to score. Martinez had a big final round, landing the cleaner punches.

l-r) Marquez, Ref Rios, Nez

Bout #4, Jackson Nez (Punches Boxing) won by UD over Leo Marquez (Colorado). In the first round Nez created distance and scored with an excellent jab to carry the round. In the 2nd round Nez added some impressive body punching to his repertoire to stay in control. In the final round Marquez responded with his own body attack, scoring with some clean hits on the inside. If Marquez had started faster there might have been a different outcome.

Bout #5, Sergio Gutierrez (Independent) won by UD over Damian Sandoval (House of Pain). The first round was close. Sandoval utilized his reach advantage, while Gutierrez used a nice right hand. The 2nd round was also difficult to score. Gutierrez wanted to get inside while Sandoval tried to create space so he could work from long range. Gutierrez had a big final round, dominating his rival on the inside with some nice body work. The referee gave Sandoval a standing-8-count.

Bout #7, Gabriel Gomez (Martinez Boxing) won by UD over Chris Almanzar (Crosstown Boxing). In the opening round Almanzar showed some excellent skills on the inside both on offense and defense. Gomez fought back hard to keep it close. Almanzar continued to work well on the inside scoring with overhand rights to the head. Gomez was throwing punches with bad intentions throughout the entire fight, but the shorter Almanzar is a polished boxer who always was in position to land clean punches. I like Gomez, but had Almanzar the winner on my card.

l-r) Ordunez vs Enriquez

Bout #8, Daniel Ordunez (House of Pain) won by UD over Angel Enriquez (South Valley Boxing). The taller Enriguez used overhand rights to capture a close opening round. Enriquez continued to use his height and reach advantage to control the second round. In both rounds Ordunez fought hard and in the eyes of some might have seen a different outcome than I had. Ordunez scored with a hard right to the head in the closing stanza which was eye catching. In a close fight, I once again had the wrong winner.

l-r) Bustillos, Ref Burke, Vialpando

Bout #9, Anthony Bustillos (Power & Glory) Won by TKO over Jose Vialpando (Independent). Bustillos flexed his muscles showing some heavy hands from the opening bell. Vialpando took a standing-8-count in the opening round and was dropped by an overhand right to the head in the second. The referee halted the contest at 1:25 of the round. Vialpando was game, looking for ways to alter the final outcome.

l-r) Guerra, Ref Rios, Tarango

Bout #10, Alyssa Guerra (Independent) won by UD over Eileen Tarango (Independent). Tarango used 1-2’s to control the opening round. Guerra was wild with her offense. The second round was a repeat of the opening stanza. Guerra took the final round when her punches finally found the target. Tarango did have one moment when she used a nice spin move to get off the ropes. Once again my score was off as I had Tarango winning a close verdict.

Bout #11, Ivan Barragan (Independent) won by TKO over Daniel Roybal (Family Affair). Barragan utilized a powerful left hook to the body to overwhelm the game Roybal. The referee halted maters at 1:29 of the first round.

Bout #12, Fernando Gonzalez (Independent) won by TKO over Anthony Coca (Independent). Gonzalez had too much experience, dominating his game rival from the opening bell. Coca took three standing-8-counts before the referee halted maters at 1:34 of the second round.

Bout #13, Mario Ruiz (Independent) won by SD over Joseph LaJeunesse (Independent). In the opening round LaJeunesse showed nice footwork and scored with left hooks to the body. Ruiz scored with a nice uppercut. Both fighters worked well from long distance, but Ruiz seemed to be coming on in the second round. In the final round Ruiz was in control. This was a very close fight and I was not surprised the verdict was split.

Bouts 16, 17, 18 took place after the rain started and the table I was working on was soaked, making it impossible write or take photos.

Bout #16, Jocelyn Shade won by UD over Cheyenne James

Bout #17, Richard Parcel won by UD over Gregory Alaniz

Bout #18, Benjamin Figueroa won by UD over Ivan Watchman