Tapia holds no fear

Johnny Tapia has good reason not to be scared ahead of his world featherweight title fight in Las Vegas tonight.

Johnny Tapia has good reason not to be scared ahead of his world featherweight title fight in Las Vegas tonight.

The American veteran has come through too much for the reputation of his opponent Marco Antonio Barrera to give him sleepless nights.

Tapia will step into the ring at the MGM Grand Casino ready to add one more extraordinary chapter to his scarcely believable life.

This is a man whose father was shot dead while his mother was pregnant with him, and whose mother herself was kidnapped, raped and murdered when he was just eight.

He walked away from a bus crash which killed the lady sitting next to him, survived a drive-by shooting, and overcame chronic alcohol and drug addictions which led doctors to declare him clinically dead three times.

Tapia, who has never been stopped in a glittering career which began when he claimed the WBO super-flyweight title five years ago, acknowledges that boxing saved his life.

He said: “I have already made my mark in the game. I do not need anything else. I am OK financially and I have a beautiful wife who loves me through thick and thin.

“Boxing has been so beautiful to me and I have done everything there is to do in boxing. But I do not see a bigger name than Marco Antonio Barrera.”

Tapia and Barrera are great friends and the Mexican insists they will go out for dinner together whatever happens in the ring in the early hours of Sunday morning British time.

Both fighters’ commendable principles have ensured no irrelevant championship belts are on the line – simply the indisputable status as the best nine-stone fighter on the planet.

Barrera refused the IBO gong after beating Naseem Hamed in 2000 and declined the WBC’s version of the title after overcoming his compatriot Erik Morales.

Meanwhile, Tapia dumped his IBF crown in order to challenge Barrera rather than bothering to try to convince them to sanction the bout.

Barrera has long since shrugged off two early defeats to Junior Jones and established himself as one of the most exciting fighters in the world today.

He said: “I have waited 10 years for people to tell me I am a good fighter and now I feel more responsibility to the fans.

“I am not as good physically as I was when I was younger but I feel that I am smarter. This is going to be a great fight.”

Tapia struggled to defeat Mexican veteran Manuel Medina in his last fight in April and may be past his best. Barrera will look to finish him in the late rounds.

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