By Keith Idec
Glen Tapia’s chance at redemption will come on about as big a stage as he could’ve hoped.
Tapia (23-2, 15 KOs) has agreed to fight former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux (34-3, 31 KOs) on the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan undercard May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Their 10-round middleweight match, which will be broadcast by HBO Pay-Per-View, will represent Tapia’s first fight in almost exactly a year.
The 26-year-old Tapia hasn’t boxed since France’s Michel Soro (27-1-1, 17 KOs) surprisingly stopped him in the fourth round of a 10-round junior middleweight main event May 8 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, 10 minutes from Tapia’s hometown of Passaic. Montreal’s Lemieux was supposed to fight Saturday night in Montreal, but his scheduled 10-rounder against James De la Rosa (23-3, 13 KOs) was cancelled because Lemieux came in nearly three pounds over the contracted limit of 163 at Friday’s weigh-in.
“His resume is better than mine, so there’s really nothing bad that I can say about him,” said Tapia, who’s trained by Freddie Roach. “He’s a tough, really exciting fighter. There’s going to be fireworks.”
The maximum weight for the Tapia-Lemieux match is 160 pounds, the middleweight limit. Tapia is moving up from junior middleweight to middleweight.
Tapia, who was released by Top Rank Inc. from his promotional contract Wednesday, also agreed to sign with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions as part of the Lemieux deal. Golden Boy also promotes Lemieux.
Tapia probably would’ve landed a 154-pound title shot later in 2015 had he beaten Soro. While the Soro loss wasn’t as brutal as Tapia’s sixth-round TKO defeat to James Kirkland in Tapia’s HBO debut in December 2013, Tapia realizes it hurt his reputation even more because Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) is one of boxing’s most powerful punchers and their fight was widely viewed as one of the most action-packed bouts of 2013.
“People probably think that I can’t take a punch because of my last fight,” Tapia said. “But they don’t understand what I went through with the weight issue, killing myself to go down in weight [to 154 pounds] and how I did it. I had to lose like 13 pounds in three days. I was weak. I was dead.
“It looked like I have a weak chin, but it’s far from that. People in high-level gyms know that. They know I’m one of the guys who can take a punch and that I can fight. But I don’t really care what the critics say, because it’s my fault. I’m the one that put myself in this position, so for them to think that is right. It is what it is. I’ve just got to prove them wrong.”
The 27-year-old Lemieux hasn’t fought since middleweight knockout artist Gennady Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs) stopped him in the eighth round of their 160-pound championship unification fight October 17 at a sold-out Madison Square Garden.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.