Johnny Lee Anthony "Johnny" Tapia (February
13, 1967 to May 27, 2012) was a Mexican-American professional boxer
and a five time world champion at super flyweight, bantam weight and
Tapia was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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
Tapia had an outstanding amateur career,
winning the 1983 and 1985 National Golden Gloves tournaments at light
flyweight and flyweight, respectively.
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.
1990, he won seven bouts, including an eight round decision over Jesus
Chong, and eleventh round technical knockout of Roland Gomez in Reno
that gave him the USBA super flyweight title, and a twelve round decision
over Luigi Camputaro, to retain that tile. 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 vs Josue Camacho undercard in Phoenix for
the NABF super flyweight title, winning in three rounds. Five days
late 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.
On October 12, 1994 at The Pit, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
Tapia defeated Henry Martinez in eleven rounds to win the vacant WBO
super flywieght title. He then knocked out former champion Roando
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 amatuer 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 Romero
family had not been on good terms.
Tapia vs Romero unification
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 ot his WBO belt.