In the first of two war’s between then WBA World Bantamweight champion Johnny “Mi Vida Loca” Tapia and Paulie Ayala were classics shown over Showtime Friday night!
In June of 1999 No. 2 contender Ayala, 27-1, in a battle between two warriors, dethroned WBA World Bantamweight champion Tapia at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas, NV.
In viewing this non-stop fight over 12 rounds with commentators favoring Tapia this writer had to wonder what fight they were viewing. Prior to the fight before classy ring announcer Jimmy Lennon did the introductions Tapia walked over to Ayala’s corner and shoved him. It was a fight before the fight by the crazy acting Tapia. There was no intimidating Ayala. It took referee Joe Cortez to get Tapia back to his corner.
Tapia would come out charging at the start of every round but was met with resistance from the talented Ayala who matched him punch for punch and then some for the full 12 rounds. The southpaw Ayala would get the better of Tapia inside though Tapia seemed to want to prove his superiority. At times Tapia would turn southpaw and do well before returning to orthodox.
The pro Tapia commentators would give Tapia full credit to the wonderment of this writer while mostly ignoring Ayala’s work. At the end of the fight they seemed stunned Ayala got the decision by judges Guy Jutras, 115-114 and both judges Duane Ford and Fernando Viso at 116-113. This writer saw it 116-112 for Ayala. Prior to the announcement of the decision both warriors hugged one another in respect of each others performances.
It would be sixteen months before the two would have a return match. Tapia in the meantime would defeat Colombia’s WBO World Bantam champion Jorge Eliecer Julio, 42-1, and defend his title defeating Argentina’s Pedro “El Alacran” Javier Torres, 32-14-8, both over 12 rounds.
Ayala would make a pair of defenses defeating Thailand’s Anupong Srisuk, 28-8, and a majority decision over Denmark’s Johhny Bredahl, 45-1. In October of 2000 the rematch between Ayala and Tapia was set at a catch weight of 124.
The rematch was another good battle though not as good as the first one. Again the commentators had Tapia ahead to my amazement. Tapia with a new trainer in one of the best in Jesse Reid did better in this writer’s eyes but still felt Ayala pulled out the final two rounds to take a 115-113 win. Judges Jerry Roth and Chuck Giampa had it the same with judge Keith MacDonald having it 116-113 all for Ayala. This one was at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, NV.
Both fighters had their cheering fans throughout both fights with their manager’s who happened to be their wives right with them. It was two hours of pleasure thanks to Showtime while boxing remains silent world wide.