By Keith Idec
Jason Quigley beat Glen Tapia, but the undefeated prospect showed some flaws during a 10-round middleweight fight ESPN2 televised Thursday night from Indio, California.
Quigley was very effective through the first three rounds and appeared well on his way to a knockout victory. An extremely tough Tapia managed to start making their fight competitive in the fourth round, though, and fatigue appeared to affect Quigley for the remainder of the fight.
Each of the three judges scored the fight by large margins for Quigley. Carla Caiz had it 100-90, Max DeLuca scored it 98-92 and Zac Young credited Quigley with a 99-91 win.
Ireland’s Quigley, who won the vacant NABF middleweight title, improved to 13-0. Tapia, of Passaic, New Jersey, lost a third straight fight and slipped to 23-4.
“I felt slow and sluggish this fight,” said Tapia, who had been stopped in his previous two bouts by David Lemieux and Michel Soro. “I feel like I didn’t even get to do to him what I trained in camp for. I was able to put pressure on him and hurt him a couple of times. This was not my best performance.”
ESPN2 televised the Quigley-Tapia fight as the main event the inaugural “Golden Boy On ESPN” broadcast on ESPN2. It initially looked like Quigley would stop Tapia early.
Quigley hit Tapia with a straight right hand just about 40 seconds into the first round that knocked Tapia backward, into the ropes. The punch bloodied Tapia’s nose as well.
Quigley then buckled Tapia’s legs with a right hand with about 55 seconds remaining in the first round. Just before the first round ended, Quigley connected with a left hook that seemed to wobble Tapia, who didn’t have his legs under him as he walked back to his corner.
Referee Jack Reiss told Tapia between the first and second rounds that he needed to protect himself better or the fight would be stopped. He didn’t do that during the second round, when Quigley battered Tapia at will.
Tapia went to the canvas late in the second round, but it was because their legs got tangled.
Quigley continued to assault Tapia during the third round, though Tapia never stopped trying to make the fight competitive. Tapia landed a hard right hand early in the fourth round, which made Quigley back off temporarily and attempt to box.
Tapia landed another right hand to the side of Quigley’s head with about a minute to go in the fourth round, when Quigley started to seem a little tired, as though he had punched himself out. Quigley came back about 30 seconds later to drill Tapia with a left hook.
With Quigley seemingly slowing down, Tapia made the fifth round competitive as well. A straight right hand by Tapia landed flush on Quigley’s jaw and made him move away from Tapia.
Neither fighter landed a lot of punches in the sixth round, which ended with Quigley and Tapia winging wild power punches up until the bell.
Quigley landed a hard right hand just after the midway mark of the seventh round, but Tapia kept coming forward. Quigley landed another flush right hand later in the seventh round, only to have Tapia shake his head to let Quigley know it didn’t affect him.
Quigley had a better eighth round, when he seemed to catch his second wind and landed several hard right hands. Reiss came to Tapia’s corner again after the eighth round and warned that if Tapia wasn’t competitive in the ninth round he would stop the fight.
Tapia, who had a nasty cut around his right eye, begged Reiss to allow him to continue and started the ninth round trying to throw as many punches as possible.
Tapia survived the final two rounds, but didn’t land many punches during those final six minutes. Quigley seemed content to box his way toward the final bell.
Tapia is more experienced than Quigley and probably the best opponent of Quigley’s career, but he entered the ring coming off a long layoff Thursday night. The 27-year-old Tapia hadn’t fought in the 10½ months since Lemieux, a former IBF middleweight champion, stopped him in the fourth round on the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan undercard May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Tapia also was stopped in the fourth round of his previous bout, when France’s Michel Soro beat Tapia by technical knockout in May 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. Had Tapia won that televised main event near his hometown, he likely would’ve fought for the WBO super welterweight championship later in 2015.
The first loss of Tapia’s career was a brutal sixth-round knockout defeat to hard-hitting James Kirkland. HBO televised that fight in December 2013 from Atlantic City.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.