Born February 13, 1967 in Albuquerque, NM. Tapia, who learned to box from his grandfather, compiled an impressive 101-21 (65 KOs) amateur record.
He turned pro in 1988 and captured the USBA and NABF super flyweight titles before stopping Henry Martinez via 11th round TKO in 1994 for the vacant WBO super flyweight crown in front of a raucous hometown crowd. He successfully defended the belt 13 times, including wins over Willy Salazar (TKO 9), Arthur Johnson (W 12), Ivan Alvarez (TKO 8) and Hugo Soto (W 12). He added the IBF belt with 12-round win over hometown rival Danny Romero in 1997. After two successful unified title defenses, Tapia vacated the belts to campaign as a bantamweight and captured the WBA strap with a 12-round win over Nana Konadu (W 12) in 1998. He lost for the first time when he dropped the belt to Paulie Ayala (L 12) in 1999’s “Fight of the Year.” Tapia won the WBO bantamweight title in 2000 by defeating Jorge Julio (W 12) and became a three-division world champion with a 12-round decision over Manuel Medina for the IBF featherweight championship in 2002. Known for his passionate fighting style and celebratory post-win back flip, the fan-friendly Tapia retired in 2011 following a win over Mauricio Pastrana (W 8) with a pro record of 59-5-2 (30 KOs) that includes wins over Carlos Hernandez (W 10) and Cesar Soto (KO 3).
On May 27, 2012, Tapia died from heart problems in Albuquerque at age 45.
Born: Feb. 13, 1967
Died: May 27, 2012