Marlon Tapales upsets Uzbek champ to win IBF, WBA belts
MANILA, Philippines—Marlon Tapales stunned Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev to become a unified super bantamweight champion on Sunday (Manila time) at Boeing Center at Tech Port in San Antonio, Texas.
Tapales claimed the WBA (Super) and IBF belts by split decision after two judges had him winning, 115-113, while the other surprisingly scored it, 118-110, in favor of Akhmadaliev.
The 31-year-old Tapales is just the second current Filipino boxing world champion after Melvin Jerusalem, who seized the WBO minimumweight belt three months ago in Japan.
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“I’m still on cloud nine right now. I can’t believe that we won,” Tapales, a huge underdog against Akhmadaliev, said in Filipino.
“I want to thank my team for their support. I won’t win this fight without my team.”
The victory put Tapales in position for a showdown against the winner of the Naoya Inoue and Stephen Fulton title bout rescheduled on July 25 in Tokyo, Japan.
The fight was originally set on March 21 but was pushed back due to a hand injury suffered by Inoue during training camp.
Brimming with confidence, Tapales is embracing the daunting challenge that lies ahead.
“[I will be ready] against either one of them,” he said.
Tapales (37-3, 19KOs), who hails from Tubod, Lanao del Norte, notched his fourth consecutive win following a late stoppage at the hands of Ryosuke Iwasa back in December 2019. He also dealt Akhmadaliev his first loss after an 11-0 start in his pro career.