|Interview: Danny “Kid Dynamite” Romero the Two Time World Champion!
Interview by Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (July 14, 2009)
The two time former world champion Danny “Kid Dynamite” Romero was at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City the last Saturday night in June talking to his former manager Cameron Dunkin whom introduced me. I also saw Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez at ringside working with one of the Spanish stations as was Houston’s Raul Marquez with another network and here was Albuquerque’s Romero. Talk about Tex-Mex. It was a Latin Fury 9 show put on by Top Rank.
Romero was one of the hottest prospects coming out of the amateurs after posting a 127-5 record when he turned pro in August of 1992 having just turned 18 the previous month. It was a time when the people of Albuquerque were without their other former amateur standout and pro Johnny Tapia who was 21-0-1. He hadn’t fought since October of 1990 after winning by technical decision after being thumbed by his opponent Santiago Caballero in defending the USBA Super flyweight title. It wouldn’t be until March of 1994 before Tapia would return to boxing. So the time was right for Romero who was 7 years the junior to the 25 year old Tapia.
It would be in Romero’s 10th fight when he made his Albuquerque debut winning the New Mexico State Super Flyweight title stopping Silverio Porras, 13-4-1, in May of 1993. A year later he defeated his first major opponent Brian Lonon, 18-1, for the NABF flyweight title at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. At the end of 1994 he stopped Domingo Sosa, 26-3, in Las Vegas in the 1st round. It was just a year before that Sosa fought Michael Carbajal for the WBC/IBF light flyweight titles.
In April of 1995 Romero would get a title shot against Colombia’s Francisco Tejedor, 42-2-1, for the IBF Flyweight title in Las Vegas. He would score his 24th straight win defeating the champion over 12 rounds for his first world title. In his first defense he defeated Miguel Martinez, 32-8-1, by knockout in 6 rounds at San Antonio. Just 6 weeks later with his weight going from 110 ¾ to 119 (highest of his career) in a non-title bout while ahead on all score cards he loses to Willy Salazar, 41-21-1. Romero suffered an eye injury from an elbow and was stopped in the 7th round on advice of the ringside physician. It was Ring Magazine’s 1995 Upset of the Year. For Salazar it would propel him into a title bout with Tapia just 3 months later for his WBO Super flyweight title losing in 9 rounds.
Romero would come back almost 6 months later and score back to back knockouts earning a title bout with Colombia’s Harold Grey, 21-1, for his IBF super flyweight title in Albuquerque in August of 1996. It was no contest as Romero knocked Grey out within 2 rounds for his second world title. Two knockout title defenses would follow with the latter one back in Albuquerque in March of 1997 on the same card that Tapia also stopped his opponent in a title defense. The one before was with Hipolito Saucedo, 12-2-1, and it was a war until Romero stopped him in the 12th and final round.
The stage was set with Romero’s IBF title and Tapia’s WBO title on the line in July of 1997 at Las Vegas. Instead of going on memory I watched this one on www.you-tube.com “We were friends up until the signing of this fight and he got me so angry and it got beyond what it should have,” said Romero. Tapia got off to a good start. In his corner were two of my all time favorite corner people, Jesse Reid and Eddie Futch. By co-incidence Reid was also in Atlantic City the night I met Romero. Romero’s head trainer was his dad. The 3rd round was close but Romero seemed to win the 4th thru the 8th. Tapia landed a punch after the bell ending the 4th round. Otherwise it was a clean fight. The 6th round was probably Romero’s best round backing Tapia into the ropes. In the 7th he landed a good right hand. Tapia dropped his hands and touched the canvas. No knockdown was called by the referee Mitch Halpern who was the best in the business at the time. Tapia had a habit of clowning so he got a pass that otherwise would have cost him. “I hit him with a right hand and it should have been scored a knockdown,” said Romero. Tapia came back to win the 9th thru the 11th with Romero closing the show better. Outside of a bloody nose Romero looked unmarked as did Tapia at the end of the fight. There were several accidental head butts. The scores were 116-112 (2x) and 115-113. I had it 115-113 Romero but there were several close rounds like the 3rd round that could have gone either way. A draw would not have hurt anyone. Matter of fact it would have set the stage for the rematch that never came. Tapia gave the glory to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and got very emotional when his grandfather came over to him in the ring. He had raised him along with his wife after Tapia’s mother’s killing. Romero thought that he won. Dejected he said, “I thought I won. I thought I pulled it out.” Pertaining to a rematch he was all for it. “He got signed with King and we could never get a rematch,” said Romero. “He said we would go to war and he boxed more than he fought,” he added.
For Tapia he would become the WBA bantamweight champion a year later. For Romero a year later he would lose a majority decision trying to take South African Vuyani Bungu’s IBF super bantamweight title in Atlantic City. I had gone from Top Rank to Kushner. He took a good punch but I beat the heck out of him,” said Romero.
Romero would go unbeaten in 9 fights (including a draw) after this title attempt that included stopping former IBF flyweight champion Rodolfo Blanco, 28-15-1, in the 1st round in Albuquerque. On a return trip to the east coast he lost another majority decision. This time to Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, 42-6 the future WBO bantamweight champion, in Madison Square Garden. “He boxed like he never did from the tapes we saw. We expected him to slug it out with us though I still thought I won,” said Romero.
Scoring knockouts over Chuauhtemoc Gomez, 48-12, for the vacant NABA bantamweight title and Dominto Guillen, 29-3-1, both in Albuquerque, they earned him a title fight with Cruz Carbajal, 21-11-1, for his WBO bantamweight title who today is the IBF featherweight champion. “I had problems making weight for Guillen. My weight went up to 145 and was told the fight was on for September (2 mos later) and I blame myself for getting so heavy,” said Romero. The bout was stopped in the 4th round and the first and only time Romero lost in New Mexico in 20 fights during his career. “We bumped heads in the 1st round. By the 3rd my eye was closed and it only got worse by the 4th,” he added.
Romero would return to the ring 8 months later winning the IBA super bantamweight title from Trinidad Mendoza, 20-5-2, over 12 rounds. Then 2 years of inactivity followed. After his father received a liver transplant Romero was motivated to return to the ring in May of 2005 being held to a draw by Alex Baba, 21-7, in Las Vegas over 8 rounds. Several months later at the highest weight of his career, 135, he won by knockout and retired from boxing. His final record was 45-5-2 (38).
I had the pleasure of conducting a Q&A with Danny who turns 35 on July 12th.
KH: Danny, you had quite a good record as an amateur. Did you win many titles?
DR: I won 6 national titles and all my international titles. I was 127-5.
KH: I know Cameron Dunkin was your manager as you started out and I believe he lived in Arizona. Is that why your first 8 fights were in Arizona?
DR: Yes it was. We wanted to have a good record when returning to New Mexico.
KH: Did you feel you were fighting in the shadow of Johnny Tapia even when he was out of boxing over a 4 year period?
DR: Not really because we had known each other al l our lives.
KH: You were just 20 years old when you won the IBF flyweight title, but had parted ways with Dunkin just months before that fight. In looking back to you regret that move?
DR: I had made a lot of money and I feel bad about that. He should have gotten credit then for accomplishing making me his first world champion. I was young and my dad was a strong influence on this.
KH: After a successful defense against Miguel Martinez you were stopped in a non-title bout with Willy Salazar suffering your first loss. Had you known much about him?
DR: I knew very little and to come back 6 weeks later I thought I would score a quick knockout.
KH: Was making weight your reason for giving up the IBF flyweight title?
DR: I was 119-125 as an amateur. I had to move up in weight.
KH: How big of a deal was it winning the IBF super flyweight title in Albuquerque?
DR: Huge. I was on a mission.
KH: Were you confident you had won prior to the announcement of the decision in the Tapia fight?
DR: I thought I did enough to win the fight.
KH: How were you received by your fans upon arriving home from Las Vegas?
DR: Excellent. We were both treated like the two best fighters in that division.
KH: When you went to MSG to fight Ratanachai Sor Vorapin was it an elimination bout?
DR: Yes, I was with King by then and the winner was to get Tim Austin, his fighter.
KH: When you fought Cruz Carbajal for his WBO bantamweight title it was the third bout in less than 4 months and you had come down to 118 from 122. Did it have an effect on your performance?
DR: I should have never gone back down to 118.
KH: In your next fight you came back to win the lesser known IBA super bantamweight title. It would be your last fight for 2 years. Had you planned it to be your final fight?
DR: No. My dad came down with a liver problem and everything concentrated on that instead of boxing and my family.
KH: I understand it was after your father’s liver transplant you decided to come back after 2 years of inactivity. Were you well prepared being it was just an 8 round bout?
DR: Even though my brother had always been with me in the corner it wasn’t the same without my dad whose weight had come down almost to mine.
KH: You didn’t fight again for over a year and came back at a career high 135 giving away 7 pounds to a losing record fighter. What made you take this fight?
DR: I still knew I could punch but should have never been that heavy.
KH: I Tapia and you were both religious people. What role does God play in your life?
DR: When my dad got sick I got away from the Lord thinking he got away from me. Eventually I prayed every day for my dad’s recovery. He never even drank. I started drinking heavy but haven’t for over 2 years. My dad is about 85% good now.
KH: You have Danny Romero’s Hideout gym in Albuquerque. Tell us something about your boxers there?
DR: It’s always been our gym and we have some good fighters there now.
KH: It’s been 3 years since your last fight and I understand you are considering a comeback. If true, in what weight class would you fight?
DR: I plan to fight at 126. I am currently 139. I would like to fight in September. I have been talking to Cameron about helping me again.
KH: In closing is there anything you want to say to all your fans?
DR: I look for their support in getting back into the ring. I know I have the punch.
e-mail Ken at: email@example.com
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