Forgotten Legends: Danny Romero

By: Steve Gallegos

When you think of Boxing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the late Johnny Tapia probably comes to mind; however Albuquerque also had another world champion in Danny Romero. Nicknamed “Kid Dynamite” for his explosiveness inside the ring, Romero provided boxing fans with a lot of good memories in the mid 1990’s.

Romero began boxing at the young age of five and his father/trainer Danny Romero Sr. guided his son through a 13 year amateur career. After failing to make the 1992 U.S. Olympic boxing team, Romero would turn pro in September, 1992 and would go 23-0 with 20 knockouts before facing IBF flyweight champion Francisco Tejador in April, 1995.

Romero shined well, taking a unanimous decision and winning his first world title; however the glory would be short-lived. After defending his title once, he faced journeyman Willie Salazar in a nontitle bout. Romero would suffer a serious eye injury and the fight would be stopped in the seventh round, putting Romero’s future in question. After surgery and rehabilitation, the eye healed well and he returned to the ring.

After winning two fights, he challenged IBF Jr Bantamweight champion Harold Grey in his hometown of Albuquerque, NM on 8/24/96 and would score a sensational second round KO. Once again, Romero was a world champion and he was voted as 1996’s comeback of the year by Ring Magazine. By this time a hometown rivalry was brewing between Romero and Johnny Tapia. It was one of the most anticipated fights of 1997 and the event was so hot that it had to be moved from Albuquerque to Las Vegas.

Before they met on 7/18/97, the boxing world was in serious jeopardy due to Mike Tyson’s ear-biting of Evander Holyfield and Henry Akinwande’s DQ loss to Lennox Lewis due to excessive holding. Boxing appeared to be on life support and it was hoping that Tapia vs Romero would rescue the sport.

The fight itself wasn’t the all action slugfest that many fans were expecting; however it did have drama. After losing the early rounds, Romero adapted well in the middle part of the fight and turned boxer, landing many good counter right hands; however Tapia would gain the edge in the later stages of the fight and would win a unanimous decision which temporarily saved boxing.

Although Romero was disappointed and thought he won, he shook the loss off well and moved up to Jr. Featherweight and after winning his next 3 fights, he was back in line for another title shot.

This time he faced long time Super Bantamweight champion Vuyani Bungu on 10/31/98. The fight would be the co-feature for “Prince” Naseem Hamed vs Wayne McCullough and the winner was hoping to land a fight with “Naz”.

Romero fought beautifully, boxing well and appeared to get the better of Bungu in many exchanges. When the final bell sounded, Romero appeared to be the clear winner, even winning the fight convincingly on HBO’s unofficial scorecard; however the judges would decide otherwise awarding Bungu a Majority Decision.

Romero continued to fight on and would win nine out his next eleven bouts before facing Cruz Carbajal in September, 2002 for the WBO Bantamweight title. The fight was stopped in the fourth round after Romero suffered an injury in the first round.

He would fight three more times from 2003-2006 before retiring from the ring with a record of 45-5-2 with 38 KO’s. While he didn’t appear to receive the same level of respect as his cross town rival Johnny Tapia did, Romero should look back on his career with a sense of accomplishment and not a sense of resentment.
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