The first thing that struck me about the kid is his last name, Tapia. Sharing a name with the former three division champ, even if youre no relation, fairly or not, puts a tiny bit more of a burden to perform upon you.

The second thing that struck me about the kid, Glen Tapia, is that Arturo Gattis manager, Pat Lynch, signed him up. Lynch doesnt go around to the gym and the shows throwing contracts at people willy nilly. He does his homework, and makes sure a prospect has a certain level of dedication and desire before he decides to invest money, time and sweat into him.

The third thing that struck me about 20-year-old jersey boy Glen Tapia, as we chatted Tuesday at a Friars Club lunch to promote Bob Arums Nov. 13 show at Cowboys Stadium, was how consumed he is with excelling as a fighter. I want to be one of the greatest champions, like Manny Pacquiao, Tapia told the press.

PacManiacs know that the junior middleweight Tapia served as Mannys chief sparring partner, in the Philipines and back in California, so I picked the kids brain about that experience, and assessed whether I should add him to my ones to watch list, guys to keep a bit closer tabs on.

Tapia, now 7-0 with five knockouts, flew to the Wild Card five weeks ago, where Freddie Roach sized him up, see what he brought to the table, see if hed make a smart fit for Manny in sparring. Freddie liked what he saw over two days, and that week, Tapia flew to the Phillipnes. He worked out there for a week, and soaked up info from Roach, and methods from Manny. It was one of the best experiences of my life, Tapia told TSS.

He went four rounds with Manny that Thursday, a month ago, and recalls that he had his moments. I got the best of him that day, he said. I woke him up. After, he told me, Im coming back.

On saturday, fellow sparmate Michael Medina took the brunt of it, as Pacquiao was that much more accurate. Tuesday, Tapia hopped back in with Manny. His speed was fater, and we went back and forth, the Passaic resident said.

No, Tapia didnt try and collect the bounty, $1000, put up by Roach if anyone knocked down Pacquiao. He explains: Im there to give him work, not there to knock the guy out.

Tapia laughed as he remembered he and Pacquiao would each bust each others lip a bit, mostly during the last twenty seconds of a round: We were showing each others busted lips.

Tapia got back to the States last Saturday, and is looking to use his sharpened skills on Saturday night, against Quinton Whitaker at Ballys in Atlantic City.

It was a great experience with one of the best, no, the best fighters in the world, Tapia told TSS.

We then chatted, along with Lynch, about something that separates fighters. Tapia told me hes a crowd pleaser, that he sees himself as an entertainer. I talked about how you look on YouTube at some of the rumbles from the 70s and 80s, and it looks like guys had more of a finishers mentality. I want to bring that era back, Tapia said. Lynch shared a story about one of Gattis early fights, when he was getting marked up, and someone told him if he didnt watch out, his features would be permamnently scarred. I dont give an eff about my face, Gatti answered.

Tapia says he feels the same way. He doesnt worry, he says, about long term damage.

Im not thinking about being retarded later, he said. You think Muhammad Ali was thinking about that?

SPEEDBAG A friend of mine, Melissa Vaughan, just put out a cool new cookbook, called The New Brooklyn Cookbook: Recipes And Stories From 31 Restaurants That Put Brooklyn On The Culinary Map, which I ordered from Amazon ( I will be making Cast-Iron Chicken with Caramelized Shallots and Sherry Pan Sauce, and will let yall know how it is, so if you feel like it, you can order the book for a holiday gift.