Johnny Tapia: A Tribute to La Vida Loca

Al's WingmanAnalyst IMay 25, 2009

Johnny Tapia is an irresistibly fascinating character.

Both in and out of the ring, he has a personality that is entertaining and endearing. Blessed with athleticism and boxing talent, Johnny developed tremendous boxing skills over the years. 

His trademark is possessing all the tools of a great boxer—fast hands, fast feet, power, and precision.

What stands out most to me, and it seems to Johnny as well since he has made it his nickname “La Vida Loca," are his trials and tribulations in overcoming a very difficult life, especially his childhood.

Johnny has fallen from grace more than a few times, bounced back, and so on.

For whatever reasons, Johnny has noticeably come apart at the seams on several occasions, and he routinely pushes the envelope. He has had unfortunate conflicts with the law, within himself, and with addiction.

All things considered however, Johnny has a lot to be proud of. He's had a Hall of Fame caliber boxing career, he has a beautiful wife and family, and his achievements outweigh his troubles outside the ring.

As a fan, with so much working in his favor, I always wondered why he couldn’t settle down and be the guy that he really deserves to be, which is the happy-go-lucky champion, retired from the sport that has given him so much.

Only Johnny knows the answer to that question.

My guess would be, like many boxers, he feels it his life duty to conquer his demons in the ring.

Whatever his problems, he continues to be a role model as a boxer, continues to attract fans, and retains the loyalty of many who love him.

Despite the many challenges, Johnny has risen to the top of his class in the boxing world. Though it has not been easy, he has had to shrug off the frustrations of losing twice on points to Paulie Ayala in slug-fests that would have killed ordinary men.

Let’s give him credit for being gracious in defeat. I still recall him hoisting Frankie Archuletta on his shoulders after the scorecards were announced in favor of Archuletta in 2004.

Arguably, the right time for him to retire was after his redemptive victory over Frankie the following year in 2005.

That must have been sweet.

Johnny did not retire.

He has not fought since 2007.

Will he make a comeback?

Time will tell. I would never count out Mi Vida Loca.