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Tapia's 'crazy life' ends at 45

Tapia’s body was found in his Albuquerque, New Mexico, home last night.

Five-time world champion Johnny Tapia in his corner in 2007.
Five-time world champion Johnny Tapia in his corner in 2007.
Image: (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf)

FORMER WORLD SUPER flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight world boxing champion Johnny Tapia has died at the age of 45.

Tapia’s body was found in his Albuquerque, New Mexico, home last night and police spokesperson Robert Gibbs said there did not appear to be any suspicious circumstances.

Although a highly successful boxer, Tapia’s life outside the ring was highly tumultuous — plagued by drug abuse, depression and brushes with the law.

His mother was murdered when he was eight, and his father was reportedly killed before the boxer was born. He had the Spanish phrase ‘mi vida loca’ (my crazy life) tattooed on his stomach and went after his opponents in an all-action style.

Tapia turned professional in 1988 and after going unbeaten in his first 48 fights — claiming the WBO and IBF super flyweight titles plus the WBA bantamweight crown in the process — he was eventually defeated by Paulie Ayala in June 1999.

He won the IBF featherweight title in April 2002 with a majority decision victory over Manuel Medina but dropped a decision to the great Marco Antonio Barrera six months later and from there his career went slowly downhill. His last fight came in June 2011 when he scored an eight-round decision over Mauricio Pastrana in his home town of Albuquerque, leaving him with a career record of 59 wins, five losses and two draws.

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