Larry Rozadilla, a boxing referee and judge who worked 131 championship bouts during his 35-year career, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Manhattan Beach. He was 72.
Rozadilla, who was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999, worked many of those championship bouts at Southern California venues such as the Forum, the Arrowhead Pond and the Irvine Marriott.
Among the fights he judged was heavyweight Mike Tyson's shocking loss to Buster Douglas in Tokyo in 1990.
Before Tyson was knocked out in the 10th round, Rozadilla had Douglas leading, 88-82, in accordance with most viewers, while Ken Morita judged Tyson ahead, 87-86, and Makazu Uchida had it even, 86-86.
One of the last fights Rozadilla refereed was at Staples Center in July 2001, when Roy Jones Jr. beat Julio Gonzalez to retain his undisputed light heavyweight title.
He also refereed such popular boxers as Thomas Hearns, Vinnie Pazienza and Danny "Little Red" Lopez during the twilight of their careers.
"Larry was definitely a premier referee and judge," said Southland promoter Roy Englebrecht. "When I saw Larry was working my shows, I felt a lot better. I knew we were always going to get a good effort."
Although Rozadilla no longer worked inside the ring, he continued to judge fights and evaluate other judges and referees, said his widow, Lillian. He last worked a fight in November.
She said Rozadilla, her husband of 32 years, was equally proud of his experience as a U.S. Army paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Korean War.
Rozadilla, a Los Angeles native, discovered boxing while in the military. He enjoyed a brief professional career under the guidance of Jackie McCoy, a longtime Southland trainer, but McCoy could see that Rozadilla had much more to offer the world.
"Jack said, 'You're too smart to do this,' and he talked Larry into retiring and going on to college," Lillian Rozadilla said.
"But he continued to love the sport."
Rozadilla graduated from USC and earned his master's in education at Mount St. Mary's College.
He later spent 32 years working in education, retiring as dean of East L.A. College.
In addition to his wife, Rozadilla is survived by two daughters, Diane and Vicki, and two grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Faith United Methodist Church in Torrance.