Super bantam champ Tapales on course for big fight with Inoue
Marlon Tapales, with a split decision win over a tough Uzbek foe on Sunday to become the unified super bantamweight champion of the world, gets a potential megabuck fight against Japan’s Naoya Inoue later in the year.
The 31-year-old southpaw from Tubod in Lanao del Norte stunned Murodjon Akhmadaliev and is now the second Filipino world boxing champion after Melvin Jerusalem, who seized the World Boxing Organization minimum weight belt three months ago in Japan.
“I’m still on cloud nine right now. I can’t believe that we won,” Tapales, a huge underdog against Akhmadaliev, said in Filipino after claiming the World Boxing Association (Super) and International Boxing Federation belts and putting himself to fight someone like Inoue.
Tapales, the former World Boxing Organization bantam king was seen as a 115-113 winner by two judges at Boeing Center in San Antonio, Texas, with one surprisingly having it 118-110 in favor of Akhmadaliev.
“I want to thank my team for their support. I couldn’t have won this fight without my team,” added Tapales, who could end up slugging it out with Inoue or Stephen Fulton after their July 25 clash in Japan.
The fight was originally set on March 21 but was pushed back due to a hand injury suffered by Inoue during training camp.
“[I will be ready] against either one of them,” he said.
In upping his record to 37-3 with 19 stoppages, Tapales won a fourth consecutive fight 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. INQ