Junior middleweight Glen Tapia made the trainer change this week that many believed he needed to make after the debacle of his last fight.
Tapia (20-1, 12 KOs) will now be trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, although Tapia told ESPN.com that longtime trainer Alex Devia will remain part of his team as an assistant.
Tapia visited Roach at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., this week to work with him and finalize their arrangement. Tapia, 24, of Passaic, N.J., will report back to Wild Card on April 14 and begin training for a June 14 ring return.
Tapia is due to headline a “Solo Boxeo” card on UniMas from the ballroom at Bally’s in Atlantic City, N.J.
The fight will be Tapia’s first since he took a bad beating from James Kirkland over the second half of a sixth-round knockout loss on Dec. 7 on an HBO-televised undercard bout.
It had been a sensational action fight until Kirkland took over and dished out massive punishment in the final three rounds. Even with Tapia nearly out of it on the stool after the fourth and fifth rounds, Devia kept sending him back out. Instead of protecting his fighter or offering any meaningful advice, the best Devia could muster was to yell at his groggy charge, “Show me some hop!” It was embarrassing.
The switch is a good one for Tapia, who got to know Roach in 2010 when Tapia went to the Philippines as one of Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partners when Pacquiao was preparing for his fight with Antonio Margarito. Tapia immediately hit it off with Roach and Pacquiao.
“This is a big opportunity for me. I have a career and I got to think about that first,” Tapia said from Los Angeles, where he will be for a few more days. “I saw what Freddie had in the Philippines. When I came back to New Jersey after that camp it was like a new me. He teaches everything. Just talking to him and being in the ring he teaches you so much. I know what he can bring. He can bring a lot. It’s opportunity.
“Alex is here, he’s still around. He’s still part of the team. He’ll always be part of the team. We’re both happy with Freddie for the opportunity. Alex and I talked about it. This is a big opportunity for all of us. You have a short career in boxing. There’s a window you have and you have to take a chance.”
Tapia said he had considered asking Roach to train him in 2010, but stayed with Devia out of loyalty.
Pat Lynch, Tapia’s manager, said he was happy to see Tapia make the change.
“Glen and Freddie had a nice relationship from when Glen was Manny’s sparring partner and Freddie was who he had in his heart as the guy he wanted to train him. I never heard Glen sound so excited. He called me Thursday to talk to me about it. You could feel it through the phone how excited he was. He wants to get back on track and we believe Freddie will be the one to help him get there.”
Working with Roach also means Tapia will no longer train in his hometown, which is a good thing.
“There’s always little distractions being at home and people not understanding you’re in training camp. They don’t know, so that’s always a distraction,” Tapia said. “So it’s good to get away.
Get some good sun and some great training.”
Said Lynch, “It’s like a whole career starting for him. I like Alex, but it was time to make a change.”
Tapia said he has put the loss to Kirkland behind him, even though he was depressed and upset about it afterward.
“I’m 100 percent now,” he said. “I needed to take a break after that fight. I know that. My body was good, but mentally, I needed a break. I said, ‘Let me just stay out of the gym for a little bit.’”
He returned to the gym a couple of weeks ago and is excited about going back to training camp with Roach next month.
“I just can’t wait to get back in there and entertain people,” Tapia said. “I want to be champion and to entertain people.”