Glen Tapia heads to 160, Golden Boy and maybe a Lemieux showdown
Glen Tapia is getting another shot at proving to his supporters – and detractors – that he can be what they thought he would be.
The 26-year-old from Passaic, N.J. is close to a deal to fight former titleholder David Lemieux in a non-title middleweight fight on the undercard of Saul Alvarez’s RING/WBC middleweight championship fight with Amir Khan on May 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Tapia’s manager Pat Lynch confirmed to THE RING on Friday that a deal had not been finalized, while Lemieux’s manager Camille Estephan said on Saturday that a deal is “very close” and that “it is the fight we want but the deal is not finalized yet.”
Tapia (23-2, 15 knockouts) is hoping to put behind him the disappointments of the past – punishing stoppage losses to James Kirkland and Michael Soro in 2013 and 2015 respectively. He admits that his most recent defeat, a fourth round technical knockout loss to Soro, was made particularly difficult because of what laid ahead had he beaten the France-based fighter.
“It was devastating for me because I knew what was coming next: a potential world title after that some time in September or October,” Tapia tells RingTV.com. Tapia adds that he had to lose 13 pounds in the two days before the weigh-in. He’ll be moving up to 160 pounds for the Lemieux fight.
“Everybody counted me out after that, it was really so hard. All that pressure, everybody was talking about ‘it’s over.'”
Tapia made the decision afterwards that he wasn’t yet finished with the sport and returned to training in New Jersey, staying in shape with assistant trainer Alex Devia, a respected staple of the Northern New Jersey boxing scene, while waiting for a date. He says he’s been in the gym since last July, training for fights in November and December of last year which fell through.
Tapia confirmed that his head trainer is still Freddie Roach and that he expects to trek out to the Wild Card Boxing Club when Roach’s schedule frees up after Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Timothy Bradley on April 9.
Tapia says he requested his release from Top Rank to sign with Golden Boy Promotions in order to make the fight with Lemieux, adding that Top Rank is like “family” and had wished him well with the next stage of his career.
“They gave me all the opportunities I needed to become what I couldn’t become,” said Tapia. “I messed up and I didn’t accomplish what I had to accomplish. It wasn’t their fault.”
The fight, should it push through, will be a crossroads battle between two fighters needing a rebound after losses.
Lemieux (34-3, 31 KOs) is coming off an eighth-round stoppage loss to WBA middleweight beltholder Gennady Golovkin in October of last year, in which Lemieux lost the IBF middleweight title he had won when he decisioned Hassan N’Dam four months earlier.
Lemieux was supposed to return last Saturday against James De La Rosa in his hometown of Montreal, Canada, but the fight was nixed after Lemieux weighed in 2.6 pounds over the contracted weight.
It’s not the easiest way for Tapia to return from a layoff, but it’s an opportunity to prove he still has potential left to fulfill.
“It all worked out perfect because now look at this opportunity. I’m on one of the biggest cards of the year on pay-per-view on the undercard. I’m fighting on TV, it’s just crazy against a big name like Lemieux,” said Tapia.
“[Lemieux] is a great fighter, there’s really nothing I can say about him. He has a better resume’ than me. It would be dumb if I was to start talking bad about him when he’s accomplished more than me. I just know what I can do and I have to show it in the ring.”
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to THE RING magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.