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Unbeaten Tapia Moves Up in Class

December 6, 1998

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Unbeaten bantamweight Johnny Tapia survived a knockdown and a listless performance Saturday to win the WBA bantamweight title from Nana Konadu in a majority 12-round decision.

Judges John Poturaj and Uriel Aguilera scored it 115-112 and 116-111 for Tapia, while Judge Franco Priami called it a 114-114 draw. The AP had Konadu winning 116-113.

Konadu, 33, of Ghana, dropped to 39-4-1 with a performance that had fans booing and chanting ``bor-ing″ midway through.

Tapia, a former 115-pounder fighting for a title in the 118-pound class for the first time, was cut over the right eye in the third round and knocked down in the 11th, but he was the more active fighter throughout.

Moving side to side and stopping to square up and throw his punches, the 31-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., fighter thrust his tattooed arms into the air when the decision was announced.

Tapia got caught with a solid left hook and then a forearm in the 11th to go down, but he argued the call with referee Frank Capuccino, saying he had slipped. The slippery canvas gave fighters trouble all night.

Tapia, a 115-pound champion who holds the IBF and WBO world champion junior bantamweight title, ran his record to 45-0-2.

Konadu, who won his title in 1996, lost it nine months later to Daorung Chuwatana and then won it back in a 1997 rematch with Chuwatana. This year, he had won both of his fights.

Tapia’s purse was $450,000, Konadu’s $200,000.

The fight marked the first in Atlantic City in eight years for promoter Don King, who was banned from doing business with casinos here in 1994 because of a pending wire fraud indictment in New York state. The ban was lifted earlier this year after King was cleared of the charges.

The card, dubbed ``The King Is Back,″ included a flamboyant entrance by the frizzle-topped promoter, whose tuxedo and diamond-studded crucifix necklace was showered with confetti as he stepped into the ring at the Atlantic City Convention Center ring accompanied by the Orange High School band.

The ring had be soaked with soda pop before the fight after a co-feature in which WBA welterweight champion repeatedly slipped and fell en route to a 12-round unanimous decision over Jose Luis Lopez.

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