Initial police reports indicate no evidence of foul play, but a cause of death is not known at this time.
Tapia was one of boxing’s most colorful characters over the course of his twenty-three year career and was recognized as one of the sport’s most fan-favorite fighters.
Tapia captured the WBO super flyweight title in 1994 via TKO 11 over Henry Martinez and would defend that belt a total of thirteen times, later adding Albuquerque rival, Danny Romero’s IBF belt. Tapia would then move up to bantamweight where he captured the WBA bantamweight title against Nana Yaw Konadu in 1998.
Following a title loss to Paulie Ayala, Tapia would claim the WBO version of the bantamweight title against Jorge Eliecer Julio in 2000.
Two years later, the colorful brawler would capture a world title in a third division with a majority decision over veteran IBF featherweight titlist, Manuel Medina.
Along the way, Tapia would engage in several memorable battles with the likes of Romero, Ayala, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Cesar Soto.
Nicknamed “Mi Vida Loca” (My Crazy Life), Tapia’s life outside the ring was more dramatic, tumultuous, and tragic than anything that took place inside the ring.
Tapia’s last several years were plagued with substance abuse issues and personal tragedies that had the fighter eventually turn to religion and reportedly become a born again Christian.
As a child, Tapia witnessed his mother chained to the back of a pick-up truck, screaming for help as she was being kidnapped. She would later be raped and stabbed repeatedly before being left for dead.
An orphaned nine year old Tapia would go to live with his grandmother and, shortly thereafter, find the sport that would keep him sane and focused through years of intense personal trauma.
The passionate brawler immediately became a hit on the amateur circuit, amassing a record of 150-12 and becoming a two-time National Gold Gloves champ before turning professional.
The Boxing Tribune will post more details concerning Tapia’s death as they become available.
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