|Real name||John Lee Tapia|
|Nickname(s)||Mi Vida Loca|
|Rated at||Super Flyweight
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|Reach||65 in (165 cm)|
February 13, 1967|
Albuquerque, NM, USA
|Died||May 27, 2012
Albuquerque, NM, USA
|Wins by KO||30|
Johnny Tapia endured a tragic early life. His father had reportedly been murdered while his mother was pregnant with him. When he was eight years old, his mother, Virginia, was kidnapped, raped, hanged, repeatedly stabbed, and left for dead by her assailant. Tapia was awakened by her screams and saw her chained to the back of a pickup truck. He tried to alert others in his household, but no one believed him. His mother was later found by the police and taken to the hospital after she had crawled 100 yards to a road. She died four days after the attack without regaining consciousness. Raised thereafter by his grandmother, Tapia turned to boxing at the age of nine.
Tapia had an outstanding amateur career, and was the 1983 National Golden Gloves light flyweight champion and the 1985 National Golden Gloves flyweight champion.
Tapia's professional boxing career began on March 25, 1988, when he fought Effren Chavez in Irvine, California. After four rounds of boxing the fight was called a draw. He won eight fights that year, five by knockout, of which four were in the first round. In 1989, he won seven more fights, including a first round knockout of Abner Barajas and an eight-round decision against John Michael Johnson.
In 1990, he won seven bouts, including an eight-round decision over Jesus Chong, an eleventh-round technical knockout of Roland Gomez in Reno that gave him the United States Junior Bantamweight title, and a twelve-round decision over Luigi Camputaro, to retain that title. Tapia was, by the end of the year, a known boxer, his name often appearing in magazine articles. However, his career came to a halt for the next three and a half years after being suspended from boxing for testing positive for cocaine.
When he finally returned to the ring on March 27, 1994, he beat Jaime Olvera by a knockout in four rounds in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He won three more fights by knockout, and then he faced Oscar Aguilar on the Michael Carbajal–Josue Camacho undercard in Phoenix for the NABF Jr. Bantamweight title. He won that fight by a knockout in the third round. Five days later the Albuquerque Police claimed they found cocaine after the fight in a bag carried by Tapia. Tapia claimed what the police found was only a soap bar, and the charges were eventually dropped.
WBO super flyweight title
On October 12, 1994, Tapia defeated Henry Martínez to claim the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title. He then knocked out former champion Rolando Bohol in the second round. In his first title defense, Tapia defeated Jose Rafael Sosa by decision.
He retained the title with a nine-round technical draw with Ricardo Vargas and a decision in twelve against his onetime nemesis in the amateur ranks, Arthur Johnson. After two more wins, he gave Willy Salazar a title shot, knocking him out in nine rounds.
In 1996, he fought six more times, keeping his undefeated record and defending the title five additional times during that period, which included wins against Giovanni Andrade, Ivan Alvarez, future champion Hugo Rafael Soto, Sammy Stewart and Adonis Cruz. By then, a heated rivalry was cooking up between him and IBF champion Danny Romero. Their rivalry had begun many years earlier when Romero's father trained both boxers. Tapia's split with the Romeros had not been on good terms. It was rumored that Tapia and Romero were members of rival gangs, although those claims were never substantiated.
1997 saw Tapia fend off a challenge from Jorge Barrera in three rounds. After that, the fight with Romero was set for Las Vegas. The fight took place on July 18. Tapia won by a unanimous twelve round decision, adding the IBF title to his WBO belt. In his next fight, he defeated Puerto Rico's Andy Agosto via decision. Tapia began 1998 by successfully defending his championships for the 11th time against former world champion Rodolfo Blanco of Colombia via decision, and then he vacated his world titles in order to move up in weight.
In 1999, Tapia suffered his first loss in his 48-bout career, losing a decision and the WBA title to Paulie Ayala in what The Ring Magazine called its "Fight of the Year." Later that year, Tapia tried to commit suicide with a drug overdose and required hospitalization. Back quickly after that, he was given a shot at the WBO title. He became a two time world bantamweight champion by beating Jorge Eliecer Julio by a decision at Albuquerque on January 8, 2000. After he defended his belt with a decision over Javier Torres, a rematch with Ayala to unify the belt was set up. Ayala won by unanimous decision in a fight that ring observers largely felt Tapia won; following the fight, Showtime commentators said that Tapia "put on a clinic" and "something's not right," nearly labeling the decision as rigged.
Tapia then returned home to prepare for bouts in 2001, when he went up in weight and beat Famosito Gomez by a knockout in six, and former WBC featherweight champion Cesar Soto by a knockout in three.
In 2002, Tapia traveled to London, where he knocked out Eduardo Enrique Alvarez in the first round; after the bout, he was interviewed by former rival Romero. Tapia's next bout, for the IBF featherweight title, was versus Manuel Medina. Tapia won a dubious decision, becoming a world title holder in three different divisions. He left the title vacant so he could face Lineal & The Ring champion Marco Antonio Barrera, who beat Tapia by unanimous decision
Tapia returned on the night of October 4, 2003, defeating Carlos Contreras by ten round unanimous decision at Albuquerque.
On April 15, 2005, he sustained an injury to his left eye but was able to continue and win a repeat match-up with Frankie Archuleta. That win came by ten round split decision in Albuquerque.
At 38, Tapia faced little-known Sandro Marcos in Chicago. In the second round, Marcos connected with a left hook to the body. Tapia fell to the canvas, clutching his ribcage, as referee Genaro Rodriguez reached the count of 10.
Later career and ongoing problems
On January 17, 2007, Tapia held a press conference stating that he would face Ilido Julio on February 23 in his home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico, then retire. The bout was being promoted as The Final Fury and Tapia promised he would win. Tapia won the fight by majority decision, 98-92, 96-94, 95-95.
Tapia was found unconscious and not breathing in a hotel room early on the morning of March 12, 2007. Tapia was hospitalized in critical condition from an apparent cocaine overdose at Albuquerque Presbyterian Hospital.
The next day, on the morning of March 13, Tapia's brother-in-law and nephew were killed in an automobile accident on U.S. Highway 550 near Bloomfield, New Mexico, apparently en route to the hospital to visit Tapia. That same day, Tapia was upgraded from critical to serious condition.
On February 11, 2009, Tapia was taken into custody in Albuquerque for a violation of parole related to cocaine use.
Tapia beat Jorge Alberto Reyes by a knockout in the 4th round on March 6, 2010, at the Ohkay Casino, San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, United States, in front of a sold-out crowd.
|WBO Super Flyweight Champion
12 October 1994 – 5 December 1998
|IBF Super Flyweight Champion
18 Jul 1997– 5 Dec 1998
|WBA Bantamweight Champion
5 Dec 1998– 26 Jun 1999
Jorge Eliecer Julio
|WBO Bantamweight Champion
8 Jan 2000– Sep 2000
|IBF Featherweight Champion
27 Apr 2002– November 2, 2002
Juan Manuel Márquez
Tapia was married to Teresa Tapia in 1994 and had three boys. The family lived in Albuquerque, NM.
He had many tattoos, which were prominent when he was fighting. One of them said Mi Vida Loca ("My Crazy Life"), the nickname he adopted. He wrote an autobiography by that title. He was a born-again Christian.
On May 27, 2012, Tapia was found dead in his Albuquerque home. He was 45 years old. Foul play is not suspected. Tapia died of heart failure.
- "HBO World Boxing". HBO World Boxing. 2002-04-27. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
- "Johnny Tapia Fails Drug Test in Rehab - Boxing News". Boxingscene.com. 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
- Showtime Broadcast http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeCgCKJ3iQk
- Boxing News by 15rounds.com
- Dan RafaelBoxingArchive (2007-01-18). "Tapia to fight Julio in New Mexico, then retire - boxing - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
- "BoxRec Boxing Records". Boxrec.com. 2007-02-23. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
- "Five-time world champion in serious condition - boxing - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
- "Boxer Johnny Tapia's brother-in-law dies in wreck : Local : Albuquerque Tribune". Abqtrib.com. 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
- "Five-time champ Tapia to remain in rehab after testing positive for drugs". Associated Press. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
- "Johnny Tapia". Retrieved 28 May 2012.
- "Police: Boxing legend Johnny Tapia dead at 45". KOB. May 27, 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2012.