By Chris Robinson
It was roughly a year ago that Passaic, New Jersey’s Glen Tapia garnered some valuable notoriety as a chief sparring for Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, who was then getting ready for an assignment against the always-rugged Antonio Margarito. An undefeated junior middleweight prospect with a 7-0 (5) record at the time, Tapia held himself well while going heads up with Pacquiao in his native Philippines, impressing Top Rank CEO Bob Arum enough for him to offer a co-promotional contract for his future services.
Tapia has since reeled of four consecutive victories and recently made news by teaming up with a new trainer in James ‘Buddy’ McGirt at the advice of his manager Pat Lynch. Lynch managed the late Arturo Gatti and after seeing McGirt have success with him later in his career, he figured a pairing with Tapia might work out.
Tapia was quick to point out that there were no hard feelings with his prior coach, Mike Skowronski, who moved on to handle other responsibilities of his own, and feels McGirt will complement the style he already has in place.
“He’s just working with my style,” Tapia said during our conversation on Wednesday night. “Because I’m actually a little awkward, a little different. He’s just trying to help me out, not trying to change me. He’s just tweaking and making me a better me.”
Tapia is in line for an appearance on the undercard of the December 3rd rematch between Margarito and WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, set to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York. While it’s one of the biggest shows of the year, Tapia on’t be satisfied until he is the one headlining.
“Everybody else, this may be a highlight of their career but me, I’m not happy until I’m the main event,” said Tapia, who has already fought at the Garden twice prior. “When everybody’s coming out to see me, that’s when I’m going to be like ‘Ok, I’m happy for that’. But for now, it’s really nothing. I want to be one of the greatest, not just a world champion, so this is just the beginning.”
The 21-year old was asked for his opinion of the first Cotto-Margarito duel a little over three years ago, a contest won by Margarito after he stormed back from an early deficit to drop his Puerto Rican foe twice late on his way towards an 11th round TKO.
“Cotto was winning when it started, in the early rounds, but Margarito kept putting on that pressure and he will beat you up,” Tapia stated. “Me, personally, I think it could happen again; the same consequences could happen again. Cotto could have some little tricks up his sleeve but when somebody takes your heart like that, it’s kind of hard to bounce back and do better.”
Margarito was involved in a well-documented scandal prior to his next fight against Shane Mosley when he was found to have tampered hand wraps in the dressing room minutes before walking out. The discovery would lead some to believe that perhaps the Tijuana fighter had performed illegally in previous fights, some even going as far as to put an asterisk on his victory over Cotto, but Tapia isn’t buying into it as much.
“You never know. You never know what he did but I don’t really think it matters,” Tapia continued. “When somebody is hitting you with punches, it’s going to hurt you anyways. It’s going to affect you. It looks like Cotto’s wind wasn’t there by the seventh round. Of course the head shots matter, but he was just connecting and connecting so much.”
Just before our conversation was coming to a close, Tapia dropped a bit of insight when he revealed to me that he likely will be heading to Tampa, Florida later this month to help assist Cotto with his training.
“I think I’m sparring Cotto soon,” the subdued Tapia stated. “That would be good if I go out there. They were talking about it for a long time, my manager Pat Lynch and Emanuel Steward were talking about it. And then I thought it wasn’t going to go down because Emanuel Steward isn’t going to be in his corner for this fight but they are still talking about it. At the end of this month I’m going to leave to Florida to spar with Cotto.”
Should make for some lively work and Tapia showed his appreciation for what the three-division champion has accomplished during his 10-year career.
“I love fighters. I am a fan of a lot of great fighters. If you go out there and do something great, that a lot of people don’t do. He’s one of the guys who goes out there and tries to win and put on a show. I don’t fight like that, he fights a little different, but I love his style.”
[ Reader's note: For more images related to this article please visit the following slideshows On tour with Cotto and Margarito / Behind the scenes with Margarito, Rios, and Donaire / Random shots of Cotto, Margarito ]
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at Trimond@aol.com
Tags: Miguel Cotto , Antonio Margarito , Cotto vs Margarito , Cotto-Margarito , Glen Tapia