Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Black House MMA + Roy Tapia = Boxing success

Normally when you hear the name Black House in combat sports you immediately think of excellence in Mixed Martial Arts; with their stable of numerous world champions and renowned contenders. However, that excellence is now being exhibited in the boxing ring as well and the fighter upholding that standard for them is a young, talented featherweight named Roy 'The Pit' Tapia.

Fighting out of his hometown of East Los Angeles, California, this up and coming prospect is currently (3-0, 2 KO's) as a professional; but don't let his experience or his age, only 20 years old, fool you. This kid was practically born for boxing. To hear him tell it, "My dad always had me in gyms since I was little."

I guess that's what happens when your father, Jose Luis Tapia, is a former fighter himself who had his first pro fight in Tijuana, Mexico at the tender age of 14. Thus, it was no surprise that at age seven, Roy would have his first encounter in an actual boxing gym. "My father used to take me to a park in East L.A. where I would run laps, get in shape and learn the basics. It was so when I got to a gym I wouldn't look dumb."

Apparently it worked because he caught the eye of trainer Clemente Medina who asked his father if he could work with him. That relationship lasted throughout Roy's entire amateur career which spanned over 90 fights and included numerous titles. Part of that resume includes Bronze at the 2006 Junior Olympics Regional tourney, Silver at both the National Blue & Gold and National P.A.L tourneys and three time champion at the Desert Showdown. "Clemente was like a second father figure to me," Roy said.

Everything seemed in order in Roy's life till an incident, which forced the deportation of his father back to Mexico, turned his life upside down. He said, "My father provided everything for me, so when he was gone I lost my head for a while." Forced to move to Corona to live with his mom, he suddenly lost boxing; that lasted about a year. He then went to Vegas for another year where he was working, but had no interest in the gym. All told, he was out of boxing for nearly two and a half years.

Then one day realizing he was going nowhere he confided in a mentor he knew since his childhood, Albert Vasquez, a former boxing trainer himself that he wanted to get back to the gym. Not wasting anytime, Vasquez introduced him to promoter Gary Shaw and before you knew it, Tapia was training for his first pro fight which took place last September. "It was crazy, one day I was working in Vegas and literally the next I was in California training for a fight."

Just when everything seemed back in order in his life, Vasquez had to leave the scene as he was heading back to El Salvador. However, realizing he was an advisor of sorts to Tapia, Vasquez gave Roy a phone number; he told him to call a former fighter of his named Cesar Garcia and to not worry that Garcia would become the advisor he was. When I asked Roy how he felt about trusting a stranger, he said, "I've known Albert practically my whole life, so I trusted his judgment. Once he told me Cesar was okay, I knew I could trust him as well."

"That was in June 2011 and to date," Roy says, "I can honestly say I have not had one bad experience with Cesar." When I asked Cesar the same question he said, "Developing a relationship, we hit it off right away. Once I saw his determination and commitment, it was easy for me to back him. Plus, the reason I knew he was going to be good was because my former trainer recommended him and he's always had an eye for talent."

However, the business of boxing is a shady one; first came the business of finding a trainer. After discussing it with his advisor, Tapia decided on Ramon 'Yuca' Morales of the Maywood Boxing Club. He said, "I just felt I needed a new school as there is only so much you can learn under one person." Then came an even bigger decision to make; what manager to entrust your career with?

Garcia, being a former professional boxer himself, knew what to look for. He advised Tapia to find out what the manager will do for him besides schedule fights. After interviewing four or five different boxing managers, Tapia said, "They were different, yet all of them seemed like the stereotypical manager." That's when Garcia suggested an old contact he knew from small MMA shows he used to attend back in 2005 and 2006. "I was able to talk to Ed Soares of Black House back then and I knew he used a different managerial system for his fighters," Garcia said.

In July 2010 during an interview I had conducted with Ed Soares, I asked him if he would entertain the thought of managing boxers. He told me, "I love combat sports, so it is something I would like to do in the future, though it is not my forte." Nonetheless, the model Black House has used for their MMA fighters was good enough for Tapia to buy into and Vice versa as Soares felt this young prodigy was the perfect fit to be the first and only boxer under the Black House stable.

The result has been three wins in five months with the most recent coming last Friday February 17. Tapia finished his opponent, who had previously gone the distance in five pro fights, in a little over two and a half minutes of the first round. According to Tapia, "The plan is to fight once a month if I can and if so, my goal is to be 10-0 by the end of the year." The way I've seen this kid throw a left hook to the body and the head, I wouldn't bet against it.

Roy Tapia would like to thank Albert Vasquez and Cesar Garcia. Also, his girlfriend Griselda and her family along with all his friends and fans.

I want to thank both Roy Tapia and Cesar Garcia for their time during this interview and Mike Ramirez of Black House for his assistance in setting it up.

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