Sports: RIP: Johnny Tapia (+)
Former boxing world champion Johnny Tapia was found lifeless in his Albuquerque, New Mexico home in the US last May 27 (28 in Manila) and his demise was undeniably a great loss to the sport where he won five world boxing titles from 1994 to 2002.
The 45-year old professional boxer had a troubled career not only in the punch-for-pay business but likewise, in his own personal battle with his illegal drugs woes and the tragedy that befell Tapia particularly the death of her mother while he was only eight years old.
According to Wikipedia, the 5-6 American professional fighter was born without a father after the latter was reportedly murdered while his mother was pregnant with him. Adding salt to injury, his mom Virginia was kidnapped, raped and subsequently murdered by unknown assailants.
This incident left Tapia under the care of her grandma and at the young age of nine, he started his boxing career where he won the 1983 National Golden Gloves light flyweight crown. Two years later, he bagged the flyweight diadem of the said US annual amateur boxing competition.
Born in 1967, the American five-time champion known as John Lee Tapia annexed the World Boxing Organization super flyweight title in 1994 and the International Boxing Federation belt in 1997 before winning the World Boxing Association bantamweight crown on December 5, 1998 against Nana Konadu.
In 2000, Tapia won the WBO bantamweight belt by beating Jorge Eliecer Julio before scoring his last boxing title victory over Manuel Medina for the IBF featherweight crown on April 27, 2002. His boxing record of 58-5-2 (win-loss-draw) with 30 KOs was a decent finish for a professional fighter of his caliber.
However, ‘Mi Vida Loca’ (Tapia’s nickname) got involved in cocaine use in the latter years of his colorful boxing career and was likewise arrested for violating parole related to his substance abuse case. In fact, he was found unconscious in a New Mexico hotel for cocaine overdose in 2007.
The comical Tapia was a refreshing sight to see on top of the ring in majority of his 65 career total professional fights. He lost to Marco Antonio Barrera via unanimous decision in one of his latter professional fights and made several comebacks after winning (and yielding!) his last boxing crown in 2002.
Tapia beat Ilido Julio in February 2007 during one of his major comebacks via majority decision in his home town of Albuquerque. The fight dubbed as The Final Fury saw Tapia winning in two of the three judges’ scorecards while drawing Julio in the third for the victory.
His last fight was a big fourth-round knockout of Jorge Alberto Reyes on March 2010 before finally calling it quits after 22 long years of professional boxing. Tapia is married to Teresa in 1994 and the couple had two children.
Indeed, the heavily-tattooed Tapia whose nickname meant ‘My Crazy Life’ would be heavily missed by boxing fans for his oncourt antics and unique fighting style that earned the admiration of aficionados here and abroad. To Johnny, rest in peace!
By the way, on June 2 (Sunday, Philippine time), Congressman Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao will test the mettle of an unbeaten Timothy Bradley over at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The gentleman from Sarangani will defend his WBO welterweight title against the undefeated American boxer (28 wins, 1 no contest, 12 KOs).
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