BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Johnny “Blaze” Tapia is getting back in the boxing ring after losing his wife due to fungal meningitis.

His wife, Crystal Villegas, is one of 12 people who died due to a meningitis outbreak linked to two Matamoros clinics. 

“You have to continue going forward,” Tapia said. “Life is gonna hit you hard sometimes, it’s gonna throw you curveballs and I feel that being in boxing for so long has mentally prepared me to be tough.”

Tapia’s father joined him in his interview with NBC23 and stressed the importance of supporting your children’s dreams.

“Boxing helps you have high self-confidence,” Tapia’s father said. ‘it demands a lot of physical training.”

Tapia is preparing for a fight on Oct. 7 at the Edinburg Municipal Park

He said his father is his right-hand man who is supporting him and continues to do so. Tapia has not fought ion the ring since September 2022.

He dedicates this fight to his late wife Crystal.

“I want to dedicate this fight to Crystal and the other women who also passed due to the fungal meningitis outbreak and to the families and to the many husbands that are going through the same thing that I’m going through,” Tapia said. “Stay strong. We have to stay strong for our little ones.”