"That's the next stage," Ingle says with a small shrug. "I've been through the first two and only have one to go."
Johnny on the Spot
Tapia Moving Up To Face Konadu
Another quick-punching, light-hitting fighter who wants a piece of Hamed is Johnny Tapia. Since his career-defining victory over Albuquerque rival Danny Romero in July 1997, the undefeated (44-0-2) WBO and IBF junior bantamweight champ has had to settle for big pushovers and small purses.
Tapia, 31, was once more dangerous outside the ring than in it. But last summer he changed his nickname from Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life) to Mi Vida Nueva (My New Life). "My life is stable now," he reasons.
His old, unstable life was marked by enough aberrant events to keep Andy Sipowicz busy for a full season of NYPD Blue. Tapia's father was murdered a few months before his son was born. When Tapia was eight, his mother was kidnapped, raped and brutally murdered—hanged and stabbed 22 times with an ice pick. A 1990 suspension for drug use cost Tapia 3� years of his career. Though he says he has lived a clean life since his 1993 marriage to Teresa Chavez, who now doubles as his manager, in 1995 he was convicted of assaulting her and was given probation.
Tapia has run through a dozen or so trainers over the last three years, including veteran Teddy Atlas, of whom Tapia had said, "He pledged a lifelong commitment to me, and I intend to finish my career with him." Alas, Atlas fell out with Teresa, and he lasted barely a week. Tapia has already auditioned six other trainers for a Dec. 5 showdown with WBA bantamweight champ Nana Konadu. "I am fighting at a heavier weight—118 pounds—and I want a trainer who can teach me new things," says Tapia. "The minute I stop learning, I'll quit."
If Hamed were interested, Tapia says he would be willing to move up to 122. But the Prince would have to move down from 126. " Tapia wouldn't last a round," says Ingle dismissively. "He'd have to nail Naz to the canvas to beat him, and what ref would let him bring a hammer into the ring?"
No Joshing About This Name
In an undercard bout at the Bismarck (N.Dak.) Civic Center this Sunday, fading heavyweight title contender Jorge Luis Gonzalez faces a Southern California surfing addict who claims to have a mean boxing legacy. Josh Gormley, a 6'4" 245-pound thumper from Redondo Beach who holds a 19-2 record with 18 knockouts, fights under the name Josh Dempsey because he says he's a grandnephew of Jack Dempsey.
Nobody in the Dempsey family has either supported or disputed Gormley's assertion, but his trainer, Randy Shields, offers evidence to prove that his un-ranked brawler is indeed a descendant of the Manassa Mauler. Says Shields, "He thinks he's the toughest guy in the world."