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Friday, June 1, 2012
Tapia memorial in Albuquerque

By Dan Rafael

Former three-division champion Johnny Tapia, who died Sunday at age 45, had close ties to Showtime. For years, he was under contract to the network, fought on Showtime nine times and had a lot of friends who work there.

He was particularly close to Jay Larkin, the late head of Showtime Sports.

On Friday, Showtime extended its condolences to Tapia's family and announced details of a memorial service in his honor.

"We want to send our thoughts and prayers to the Tapia family in this time of loss," said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports. "A man small in stature but gigantic in heart and personality, Johnny's memory will remain with all that knew him and keep us smiling for years to come -- just as he did in person."

Showtime said the Tapia family has announced a public memorial service in his honor in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M.

The service will be on Sunday at the University of New Mexico's arena, The Pit, where Tapia fought multiple times, including when he won his first junior bantamweight title by knocking out Henry Martinez in the 11th round in 1994.

There is a viewing at 6:30 p.m. and the memorial service at 8 p.m. The Pit is located on the university's South Campus on University Boulevard and Cesar Chavez in southeast Albuquerque.