BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Johnny “Blaze” Tapia, an up-and-coming Brownsville boxer, is returning to the ring after his last matchup in September 2022.

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

Tapia said it was difficult, however, now he will always have her in his corner.

He has been preparing for the returning matchup in October and said his wife is with him in spirit.

“My motivation is at an all-time high, like I said, spiritually I have a guardian angel in my corner now so there is nothing. I feel unstoppable right now,” Tapia said.

Tapia had a fight lined up in June, however, he decided to not fight to be with his wife Crystal who, at the time, was battling fungal meningitis.

“Crystal was telling me not to pull out of the fight. That she would be fine but I’m glad I did because I got to spend some time with her,” Tapia said.

Tapia said she was a strong fighter while battling the infection for four months.

“She did fight. She was a fighter. She fought till the end, and she had the motivation to come home and be with her kids,” Tapia said. “It’s up to me to continue her legacy and her duties.”

Tapia’s father was at the Blazing Boxing Gym in Brownsville helping him train and says seeing his son get back in the ring is a bittersweet feeling.

“Just to see him focused and see him back, it just makes me happy because I know that it’s something that is in his blood that it’s something he strives for and we’re excited to see him back in the ring,” Tapia’s father said.

Johnny says he is ready for his next upcoming fight. 

“I’m going to give the best performance of my career thus far, and it’s all going to be dedicated to Crystal and to the women who lost their lives,” Tapia said.

He will be fighting in Young Guns, a professional boxing event on October 7 at the Edinburg Municipal Park Pavilion located on 714 S. Raul Longoria Rd.

Tapia thanks the community for the support for himself and his family amid his wife’s passing.