by Keith Idec
PATERSON, N.J. — Glen Tapia’s willingness to initiate exciting exchanges has made him a fan-friendly fighter since he turned pro five years ago.
Some boxing experts envision a slugfest favoring James Kirkland, Tapia’s opponent Saturday night in Atlantic City, but that won’t stop Tapia from brawling with one of the sport’s most dangerous punchers at times during his HBO debut.
“Me, personally, I believe if you want to be on a certain level you’ve got to take chances,” Tapia said after a recent sparring session at Ike’s & Randy’s Boxing Gym. “Even though you could box somebody, people don’t want to see that. People want to see entertainment, so I’m going in there to entertain. I’m going to take a chance and I’m going to entertain. I’m not going to box him the whole time. I’m going to go in there to handle my business for the crowd, too. I’ve got to give the people their money’s worth.”
Kirkland (31-1, 27 KOs), a powerful southpaw from Austin, Texas, is by far the most accomplished opponent Tapia has been matched against since the Passaic, N.J., native made his pro debut in December 2008. But Tapia (20-0, 12 KOs), who’ll turn 24 on Dec. 11, believes he possesses various advantages over the rugged Kirkland that’ll enable him to beat the 29-year-old veteran in the biggest fight of his career.
“It’s all up to me,” said Tapia, who stopped previously unbeaten Abie Han (20-1, 13 KOs) after eight rounds in entertaining ESPN2 encounter July 12 in North Las Vegas, Nev. “He fights the same. He’s going to come to me and he’s going to make it a brawl, and he doesn’t have another game plan. Me, I’ve got a lot of game plans. I can box him, I can brawl with him the whole time. But I’ll see in the first round what I have to do to win. Once we’re in the first round, I’ll see which way I’ve got to go. I’m not stupid. I’m not a dumb fighter, even though sometimes I do dumb things, when I go in there and brawl because of the crowd.”
The Tapia-Kirkland fight, a 10-rounder that’ll be contested at a catch weight of 156 pounds, will be one of three bouts broadcast by HBO from Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom. The main event will pit Cuban southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) against Ghana’s Joseph Agbeko (29-4, 22 KOs) in a 12-round fight for Rigondeaux’s WBA and WBO super bantamweight championships. The telecast is set to start at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT with a 10-round middleweight bout between England’s Matthew Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs) and Lamar Russ (14-0, 7 KOs), of Wilmington, N.C.
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.