Johnny Tapia Returns Friday


Former five-time world champion Johnny Tapia of Albuquerque, N.M., launches what he vows will be his final—and a successful—comeback when he fights veteran Pedro Rincon Friday, May 2, in El Paso, Texas. “I’m returning to win a title at 122 pounds,” said Tapia. “I’ve won belts at 115, 118 and 126, but not at 122..”

The 10-round bout against Rincon will be the first for Tapia in 14 months and only his second during the past 31 1/2 months.

Tapia has never fought for a 122-pound title, moving directly from bantamweight to featherweight between 2000 and 2002.

Tapia attempted to earn a shot at a 122-pound title during 2005. He won his first two bouts then was upset.

“I don’t like what happened; I didn’t like the way that ended,” said Tapia. “I had to try one more time. I know I still have big things ahead of me.”

Because he’s 41-year-old, Tapia, who has a record of 56-5-2 with 28 knockouts, knows he can’t dawdle nor duck tough competition when it comes to moving toward that title shot.

“Rincon is tough, but it doesn’t really matter,” said Tapia, who is the former International Boxing Federation featherweight, World Boxing Organization bantamweight, World Boxing Association bantamweight, IBF junior bantamweight and WBO junior bantamweight champion. “I have to keep busy and keep winning if I want to get that last title.”

The hard-hitting 33-year-old Rincon, originally from Colombia and now living in Miami, Fla., has a record of 30-14-2 with 25 knockouts and has a win over former WBA flyweight and IBF junior flyweight champion Mauricio Pastrana.

Five other bouts will be on the card promoted by Browning Boxing and sponsored by Viva Environmental.

The eight-round semi-main event matches heavyweight Arron Lyons of Gulfport, Miss., (8-2, 6 KOs) against southpaw Lovy Page of Dallas (15-8, 12 KOs).

The undercard includes undefeated, left-handed middleweight Austin Trout of Las Cruces, N.M., (13-0, 10 KOs) against Mikel Williams of Monroe, La., (8-21-4, 3 KOs) in a six-round bout; unbeaten heavyweight Alfred “Little Bum” Happy of Lovelock, Nev., (4-0, 3 KOs) against Michael Hamilton of Tyler, Texas, (2-3-1, 1 KO) in a four-round fight; and a four-round women’s contest featuring Jennifer Han of El Paso (pro debut) against Liakisha Harris of Monroe (0-1). The fourth preliminary bout will be announced.

The card will be held in the El Paso County Coliseum starting at 8 p.m. (Mountain). Doors open at 7:30.

Tickets, priced at $20, $40 and $60, are available at the El Paso County Coliseum from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays or by calling 915-533-9899 during those hours and through all Ticketmaster outlets.