Tapales crosses over to the A-side, where 118-110 cards won’t go against him anymore
All that pent-up energy, all that homesickness, all that work put into an extended training camp helped wash away the nervousness off Marlon Tapales the moment he stepped in the ring against two-belt super bantamweight titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev in San Antonio, Texas.
It was only when the fight scores were being read that Tapales felt a knot grow in his gut.
“When I heard a judge scored it 118-110, that was the only time I was nervous during that night,” Tapales said on Wednesday after arriving in the country bearing the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation (IBF) 122-pound belts.
“118-110? I thought we were going to get ripped off,” said MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons, who partnered with Sanman Promotions to set up the title clash.
Tapales was awarded the victory, though, after two judges scored it 115-113, but there was still a lot of talk about the 118-110 score. It certainly brought questionable judges back in the conversation. Bribed? Inept? Gibbons doesn’t want to go there.
“I see it differently,” he said. “Sometimes, a judge scores by who he sees as the aggressive fighter or sometimes judges sit and look up and see the A-side fighter on the ring and that could have an effect on how he sees the fight.”
Tapales said he had been keeping score himself during the bout.
“I had it 10-2 (in rounds, 118-110 in score) for myself,” he said smiling. “And those two rounds I thought I lost, I was really just pacing myself and every time he came up with an attack, I always had a counter.”
The disparity of the score is proof that Tapales wasn’t the A-side fighter in that match against Akhmadaliev.
“But he has crossed to that side now,” Gibbons said. “He gets to have some A-side perks now.”
Among those perks? Perhaps never having to wait too long for a mandatory title bout.
Tapales was designated as the IBF mandatory challenger in January but was later told to wait because Akhmadaliev was ordered to fight Ronny Rios, also in San Antonio. The Uzbek retained his titles but later said he injured himself, postponing yet again a showdown with Tapales.
“I don’t think the guy was even really hurt,” Gibbons said, recounting how he stalked Akhmadaliev on social media. “He’s partying, he’s on the beach boxing with Anthony Joshua.”
Tapales did benefit from the runaround: Akhmadaliev had bulked up during his inactivity and spent a lot of time during camp shedding off the excess pounds. The Filipino champion, meanwhile, was doing well on the scales.
“I learned my lesson when it comes to making weight,” Tapales said, referring to his bout against Shohei Omori in 2017, when he scored a technical knockout but was disqualified from taking the World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight crown because he didn’t make weight.
The extended camp, however, took a lot of time away from his family.
“I have been away from my daughter for more months than I have been with her,” said Tapales of his child, who turned two last February.In fact, aside from clothes, Tapales didn’t bring any gift for his daughter because “I don’t know what she likes.”
“When I arrive [in Cebu], I’ll take her out shopping so she can choose what she wants,” he said.
Now that he’s on the A-side, Tapales won’t be away from family a lot anymore. He gets to sit at ringside during big fights. He can call out opponents.
His next target? Naoya “The Monster” Inoue, who will stake his undefeated record when he battles World Boxing Council and WBO super bantamweight king Stephen Fulton in July.
Tapales, nicknamed “The Nightmare,” is rooting for Inoue so they can arrange a unification bout.
“We’ll be watching the fight, we’ll be right there,” said Sanman Promotions chief JC Manangquil, who handles Tapales. “If he (Inoue) wins, we’ll chase him [for a fight with Tapales].”
And perhaps the best benefit to crossing over to the A-side? No more knot-inducing, eyebrow-raising 118-110s going against Tapales.