Laurent Boudouani/Guillermo Jones
Johnny Tapia/Rodlfo Blanco


by Pusboil

Showtime gave us two fights last night. Not that they advertised at all, to let anyone know they were on. This seems to be their new thing. Show fights but keep it a secret.

Don’t quite understand that. If you have a show to put on, let people know about it. King only seems interested in advertising when Tyson is involved. From news reports last week, and his unusually quiet remarks when asked about Tyson, it seems that there is definitely trouble in "Team" Tyson.

We have two reports on last night’s action. DscribeDC and myself responded to our benign dictator/Editor-in-Chief GorDoom’s call for coverage.

One final note that reflects only my own humble opinion. Showtime’s choice of lead in, which was advertising Mike "I need a part-time job" Tyson was pretty lame. It goes to show that Showtime and Don King will use Tyson for anything they want.


Johnny Tapia-Rodolfo Blanco
Laurent Boudouani-Guillermo Jones
"The Pit," Albuquerque, NM
February 13, 1998

by DscribeDC

In a fight that threatened to feature more low blows than a Kenneth Starr grand jury transcript, Johnny "The Baby-Faced Assassin" Tapia routed the game and professional, but over-the-hill Rodolfo Blanco in defense of the WBO and IBF junior bantamweight titles, before a rabidly pro-Tapia hometown crowd of 13,000. The bout solidified Tapia's stature as one of the few reliably-bankable commodities in a sport short (perhaps terminally so) on charismatic champions who can command the attention, the emotion and the ducats of the sporting public. In Albuquerque, Tapia is Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Madonna rolled into one and, from the sound of the throng on Showtime's telecast, his status can only grow after the Blanco win.

It's genuinely difficult to say too much about Tapia's victory. The pattern of the bout was set early on, Johnny using unorthodox angles, lateral movement, quick hands, deceptively-canny defense and painful-to-listen-to body punching to exact a tactical advantage against the older, slower and smaller Blanco while thoroughly befuddling and demoralizing the former flyweight king with a mixture of superior ring generalship, back-alley street brawling and the clowning that has made Tapia such a crowd-pleaser to his fans and such a pariah to purists.

The opening round signaled what could have been a compelling war, an accidental clash of heads, bitterly protested by Tapia, opening a large gash over Johnny's left eye, and Blanco's charging, roughhouse style seeming, for just an instant, to get Tapia out of his mental zone. But it was not long before the quicker and more physically-gifted Tapia had things back under control again. Blanco's performance was almost maddeningly consistent; with his hands held high, he methodically paced in behind a jab, attempting to wing occasional straight rights or uppercuts on the inside, but his advances were nearly always neutralized by Tapia's superior punchrate and hard hooks to the ribs that were delivered with a gusto no judge could miss.

But for the seventh round, when Tapia seemed to recoup his energies and let Blanco assume a slight edge, it was a thorough domination. The only chance Blanco appeared to have was to rough Tapia up in the clinches and force a phone-booth war, but with the exception of some scattered (and quickly repaid) low blows -- one of which cost Blanco a point in the ninth -- Rodolfo's fight plan was remarkably conventional. Since a (perhaps ill-considered) comeback, Blanco has lost five of his last seven fights, and the steady erosion of skills could not have been plainer. He was a 30-to-1 underdog and fought like it. Two judges scored the fight 120-107, and the other scored it -- as did this writer -- 119-108, all for Tapia. There could be no rational dispute.

Tapia's supporters gave him a real birthday present, a relatively simple defense against a smaller ex-champ coming up in weight. (It will be interesting to see if Tapia takes the kind of grief for this tactic that Oscar De La Hoya has in recent years.) The only things missing were the ribbon and the bow.

Tapia's win means that the boxing public will be treated to yet further chapters of his engrossing saga, a rags-to-riches tale that began with the brutal murder of Tapia's parents, proceeded through drug problems, incarceration, and allegations of domestic violence and, in its middle chapters, turns into a story of fistic redemption, with a revived career, an all-embracing hometown fight mob and renewed domestic bliss. Yet, it's a tale with frightening undercurrents. I could not help but feel a chill go down my spine when Teresa Tapia told Showtime cameras that a boxing ring is "the safest place" for her husband. This is the kind of story boxing people love -- and will pay for -- a cliffhanger featuring a wirewalking edge personality whose violence threatens to spill over into his private life and ruin him. (Consider how profitably Mike Tyson has worked this formula.) The soap opera far so good...let's hope JT's final chapters are happier than those of most of his boxing peers.

One unsettling aspect of the fight was the apparent lack of publicity. TV Guide did not list the bout, nor did the usually-reliable TV section of the boxing-friendly Washington Post. Had this writer not paid a visit to the Showtime website for the start time, he might have missed the fight altogether. Is this the way sports phenoms are made? Forget Albert, Czyz and Pacheco; this fight should have been done by Scully and Mulder. Unless Showtime promotes its new star attraction a bit more aggressively in the future, Tapia may be harder for the casual fan to find than D.B. Cooper's hideout in the Lost Dutchman mine.

By far the more compelling bout of the evening was the WBA junior middleweight title tilt between champ Laurent Boudouani and Panamanian challenger Guillermo Jones, a 6'4" ectomorph who brought to mind nothing if not an inflated version of JUNIOR Jones. With his long arms, lanky body and extreme height advantage, all of which he used to excellent result, the unheralded Jones was able to keep the only intermittently-effective Boudouani at bay and outpoint him through most of the fight. Jones controlled the first three rounds while the laconic Boudouani hung at the end of Jones' jab, eating punch after punch and seemingly conceding the first quarter of the fight while measuring Jones for the thudding counters that would come in rounds four through six. At the end of the third frame, a straight Jones right had Boudouani reeling and it seemed an upset was imminent.

To his credit, the Frenchman stormed back in the next three rounds, launching precise counter hooks and seeming to land every power shot, while, with only an ineffective "touch" jab, Jones appeared to be conceding the bout, imagining himself in more pleasant surroundings.

By the seventh, Jones regained his wind, jabbing more forcefully from the outside, dancing and moving on rejuvenated legs and, ultimately, adding the right hand to effective combinations, while the lethargic Boudouani launched single haymakers that did little damage. Although the champion came on to take the last round, he appeared to be a clear loser. Alas, in truest boxing fashion, two of the three judges at ringside gave Laurent a french kiss in the form of 114-114 draws, preserving the fortunate Frenchman's belt for another (and, hopefully, sharper) defense. Jones seemed magnanimous in the post-fight interview, knowing that the crowd in attendance and many of the television viewers scored the fight a clean Jones win, and that his stock can only rise in defeat. This reporter scored the bout 116-112 for Jones. One thing about which you can be absolutely "cerdan"; Monsieur Boudouani will need better outings if he expects to win "l'amour toujours" from the U.S. fight audience. C'est vrai!

Last notes: Am I the only one who really likes Showtime's jazz-scored black-and-white broadcast intro? It's artistic, atmospheric, and really captures something raw and soulful about the sport that canned rap simply can not.

And although I may not have been overly impressed by the latest Acaries Bros. import, there is something indefinably, irresistibly wonderful about listening to the delicate, continental stylings of the charming Nathalie Cristal (sp?) on the microphone. Whether she's deciphering cornermen's instructions or translating a post-fight interview, the contrast between sheer violence and sheer romance makes for some truly arresting TV. Come on, Showtime...isn't it time boxing had a third "gamin" in the ring? Ooh la la.

While we should never prejudge any legal dispute, it's hard not to feel a little uncomfortable with Don King's assessment of the Mike Tyson situation when he is talking in normal, people-sized sentences. A monosyllabic Don King might as well be taking the fifth. At least that's how many people, accustomed to his elaborate and overwrought rhetorical flourishes, will see it. He artfully slipped questions on Tyson's tax problems and the Bel Air Hotel dust-up with all the deftness of Slick Willie Clinton tiptoeing his way around the definition of an "improper relationship." When King suggested to Jim Gray (a pit bull who scores more points for aggressiveness than any fighter on tonight's card) that his fracas with Tyson was a "minor domestic dispute," Gray, in the funniest moment of the night, asked King whether the police would have broken them apart if they had been husband and wife.

The police, I suspect, might have thrown up their hands and concluded that these particular dysfunctional spouses were made for each other.

Friday the 13th

by Pusboil

Our first fight of the night featured Guillermo Jones 22-1 (19)challenging WBA Jr. Middleweight champ Laurent Boudouani 36-2 (22) for his title. Let me start by saying I respect every fighter who gets in the ring. Every fighter is deserving of respect for risking his faculties in every bout.

With that said, this fight was difficult to watch. Neither Jones nor Boudouani looked like they knew much about the sweet science. There was no way you would mistake this fight for Hagler-Hearns or Ali-Frazier.

The first two rounds of this bout were a virtual snoozefest. Both fighters were looking amateurish and Boudouani was the worst of the two. You could make excuses for Jones since he was the less experienced fighter. But Boudouani was the WBA champ for cryin’ out loud. Jones in my opinion ,took these first two dull rounds.

The third round brought some action finally. Jones was able to stagger Boudouani with a right hand about halfway through the round and convincingly won it. So far the only punch Boudouani was able to land was a leaping left hook. He landed this occasionally throughout the first three rounds.

The fourth round was Boudouani’s best by far. He started throwing and landing some decent combinations. He also caught Jones with one of those leaping hooks and staggered him in the round. The fifth was more of the same. Boudouani seemed to have found his groove and was now landing left hooks in bunches.

He also started landing his first jabs of the night. Noticeably absent from Boudouani’s attack were body shots. Jones is 6’4 and 153 or so pounds. Do the math, that leaves a nice long lanky body begging to be cracked. Boudouani barely ever went near it. Preferring head shots most of the night. But it seemed that the tide had turned in Boudouani’s favor.

Jones looked completely out of gas in the sixth. He had absolutely nothing behind his punches. Sure he was landing a few more shots than Boudouani, but these were pitty-pat punches. It seemed Boudouani had finally worn him down. The seventh and the eight looked more like the first and second round. There was not a lot of clean action going on. But this seemed to favor Jones because by the time the ninth started it seemed the tide had turned back to his favor.

Boudouani with no visible explanation, pretty much just stopped fighting at this point. He let Jones back into a fight that Jones had looked like he had given up on.

The 10th, 11th and 12th were pretty much the same. Jones dominated with a semi-weak jab and Boudouani offered the occasional left hook in return. Boudouani started fighting harder in the 12th but to me it was too late.

At the final bell I had Jones winning 117-112. 8-3-1 in rounds. But this was Friday the 13th and Boudouani managed to keep his title with a majority draw decision. The three blind mice, err I mean judges, had it 115-114 ,114-114, and 114-114. The score card that wasn’t a draw did have Jones ahead.

Jones looked undeserving of a number one ranking but he is young. Boudouani on the other hand reminded me of one of his countrymen Pepe Le Pew. He really stunk this one out.

Next up was Johnny Tapia 42-0-2 (24), Albuquerque’s favorite son. He was defending his IBF (I do not recognize the WBO) Jr. Bantamweight title against former IBF Flyweight champ Rodolfo Blanco.

Anyone who has followed Tapia’s career and life knows that it was appropriate that Friday the 13th was the perfect day for Johnny Tapia to be celebrating his birthday and defending his title.

The fight started out quickly with an accidental head-butt by Blanco that opened a cut over Tapia’s left eye. Before the fight, Tapia had talked about Blanco’s dirty tactics. The head-butt appeared not to be intentional, but Blanco later on lived up to his reputation and Tapia was happy to answer with his own antics.

The second round saw Tapia apparently distracted by the cut. He didn't look his usual confident self and seemed to have a hard time letting his punches go. Blanco kept a robotic jab moving in this round and in my opinion won it.

In the third , Tapia was less distracted and stronger again. His corner had told him to give them a little help with the cut and not get in too close. But that was not something Tapia did easily. He is a warrior and knows one way to fight usually. In your face with everything he has.

I don’t think Tapia cares if he loses as long as he is in there fighting his ass off. The fighters exchanged low blows in the fourth. Blanco started this trade and Tapia was more than happy to reply. Tapia forgot about the cut by this time and was almost at 100% again.

Blanco was on the receiving end of some peppering combos in the fifth. Tapia was back in full force. From this point on, Tapia was in total control of the fight. Tapia’s speed could not be overcome by Blanco.

Blanco had a point deducted in the ninth, but it was over at this point. Blanco only won one round the entire night and needed a knockout to win. It would take more than Blanco could muster to kayo Johnny Tapia.

Tapia won this fight easily. I had it 119-108. The three judges saw it pretty much the same. Next up for Tapia might be a rematch with Danny Romero, another Albuquerque native.


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