By Keith Idec
The guts of Glen Tapia shouldn't surprise anyone who watched the courageous contender from Passaic perform in his HBO debut Saturday night against James Kirkland. Tapia displayed plenty of heart in a brutal battle that thoroughly entertained viewers and fans at Boardwalk Hall's Adrian Phillips Ballroom, but he'll have to re-establish himself after suffering a sixth-round technical knockout defeat in the biggest fight of his five-year pro career.
"I'm a warrior," a disappointed Tapia said Sunday. "I get better and work harder when I'm faced with defeat. You haven't heard the last of me at all."
You might not hear from him for six months, though.
Carl Moretti — vice president of boxing operations for Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc., Tapia's promoter — estimated that Tapia's comeback bout won't take place until June or July. Tapia suffered a hairline fracture to his nose, but otherwise was given a clean bill of health before leaving AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center City Campus in Atlantic City on Sunday morning.
Nevertheless, after absorbing an inordinate amount of punishment against one of the sport's most powerful punchers, an extended break probably would best serve Tapia (20-1, 12 KOs), who'll turn 24 on Wednesday.
"I don't want to use that 'back-to-the-drawing-board' cliché, but the level at which he'll fight next won't be at this level," said Moretti. "And we'll assess what he looks like against an average opponent. If he continues to get hit and loses zip on his punches, then it's a whole other problem. If he shows that the rest helped him and he just stepped up and fought a tougher guy, then we'll take it as that."
Arum hoped Tapia would score his most noteworthy win to date against Kirkland, which would've helped Tapia become a regular on HBO, one of the two premium cable networks that basically bankrolls boxing. His handlers still have high hopes for him, but among the things they'll attempt to learn is why the well-conditioned Tapia never really seemed to have his legs under him after successfully outboxing Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) in the first round of a scheduled 10-round junior middleweight match.
"We'll look carefully at every fight he has, starting with the comeback fight," Moretti said. "We'll see how he reacts to getting hit and are the opponents that we put him in with, are they in competitive fights that shouldn't be?''