Marlon Tapales vows victory in undisputed fight vs Naoya Inoue
BAGUIO CITY–Marlon Tapales needs not to look far for added inspiration ahead of the biggest fight of his life.
Signed posters and pictures of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao were scattered around the walls of the Shape-Up Boxing Gym where Tapales has been holed up for the past several weeks.
But even Pacquiao, one of the greatest boxers ever and through all his accolades, couldn’t accomplish what Tapales is about to embark on: a shot at an undisputed title against top pound-for-pound fighter Naoya Inoue.
Facing a seemingly invincible opponent doesn’t faze Tapales, who is brimming with confidence ahead of the December 26 showdown in Tokyo, Japan.
“Ipapanalo ko talaga ito. Gusto ko talaga nang magandang laban. Of course gusto ko i-enjoy tong laban na ‘to kasi bihira lang sa isang boksingero na makalaban yung nasa top talaga nang pound-for-pound so I’m very thankful na makalaban tong tao na ‘to, ibig sabihin nandoon din ako so hindi rin ako magpapahuli,” said Tapales after his workout on Monday at Shape-Up Boxing Gym here.
(I will win this. I want a good fight. Of course, I also want to enjoy this fight because it’s not every day a fighter gets to fight the top pound-for-pound boxer so I’m very thankful to be able to fight [Inoue] because that means I’m also on his level.)
The 31-year-old Tapales (37-3, 19KOs), who holds the WBA (Super) and IBF super bantamweight belts, is not the type to shy away from pressure. He is also embracing the underdog status like he always has.
“Sa mga laban ko naman palagi tayong underdog so hindi na bago sakin tong underdog. Basta para sakin, kabataan ko pa lang lumaban na ako, nagsu-survive na ako,” Tapales said.
(I’ve always been the underdog when In fight so this is not new to me. I’ve been fighting and surviving ever since I was young.)
“Yung kaba kasi andun na yon. Normal na yan sa tao. Pero pag walang kaba, walang challenge yun. Ibig sabihin yung kalaban mo talagang wala. Pinakaimportante yung kaba, yun ang pinakamagandang challenge para magtiyaga ka nang husto para alam mong may laban ka. Yun yung pinakamaganda,” he added.
(Being nervous is normal. But if you’re not nervous, there’s no challenge. That means you’re not against a big-name fighter. Being nervous is important because that’s the biggest challenge to work harder and know you have a chance. That’s the most important thing.)
Tapales is also tasked to do what hasn’t been done before which is to beat Inoue, who is undefeated in 25 fights, 22 of which ending inside the distance.
In his recent tour de force, Inoue whipped a previously unbeaten Stephen Fulton in just eight rounds to claim the WBC and WBO titles last July 25.
But as indestructible as Inoue looks, Tapales is ready to expose the Japanese’s flaws.
“Lahat naman tayo may weakness so meron din siya,” said Tapales, the pride of Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
(We all have weaknesses so he has too.)