A Lesson Learned?
By Ed de la Vega, DDS
23 Apr 2017
It was supposed to be one of his greatest moments in life, if not the greatest. But alas, it never even came close.
Marlon Tapales was set to defend his WBO bantamweight title at Osaka, Japan against a Japanese pug, Shohi Omori.
Tapales and his Team, a horde of followers and a handful of premier boxing journalists left Cebu feeling the utmost confidence that he will come back home with his belt still with them.
After all, he has beaten this same fighter once before. Beating him again to keep his title would not be too difficult. He knows the style of the opponent and he has every weapon to counter it and come out victorious.
But that didn’t happen. Tapales lost his belt even before stepping into the ring!
The guy was over a pound overweight and in spite of the two hour grace given to him, he never made the stipulated weight limit. Instead of losing weight, he even gained more!
I wonder, did Team Tapales have a personal scale in their hotel room to monitor his weight?
Now I am not one to whip a horse when it's down, so to speak. And, I for one feel deeply sorry for Tapales for the unfortunate fate he got into. After all, he is one of Philippine fighters that holds the distinction of using my humble mouthguards in the past.
But losing a belt on the scales leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It should not have happened and there is no excuse for it particularly when a fighter is up for a title fight.
Thus it is time to rehash the issue about failure to make weight. Again!
Ryan Songalia, a respected sports writer based in Manila, told me that Tapales “is a big bantamweight and walks around at 145lbs. Therefore, he had a 3 month preparation.”
“People without weight issues take less than that to prepare for a fight”, Songalia added.
I am aware that one of the hardest part of training is getting to the right weight and yet be on tip top condition. I have seen fighters sacrifice so much to attain that and I know how much they suffer. Thus it’s not too easy to say anything negative.
But the fight was for a title and it’s the first time Tapales was suppose to defend it!
Therefore, there was no excuse not to come well prepared. Tapales should have weigh no more than 3 to 5 pounds over the limit when he left Cebu so it is easier to go down to the stipulated weight come weigh-in day. But he was 10 pounds over and he had a devil of a time cutting the excess. In fact, he never made weight.
I put the blame on this fiasco to Tapales himself. He became over confident about his weight issues because in the past he was able to conquer it. He may have forgotten that he was fighting in Japan where the climate is cooler and losing weight in such conditions is difficult at best.
I also put the blame on his trainers. They too should have known the situation and should not have allowed Tapales to be so bloated when he left Cebu. Keeping the fighter’s weight in check is their responsibility too! They failed their responsibility so miserably!
I also put the blame on Wakee Salud. For a veteran promoter who has traveled to Japan many times, he should have cautioned his ward about the difficulties of losing weight in a foreign country whose weather pattern is totally different from ours.
But Salud never expressed any concerns about the issue. In fact he was reportedly confident that Tapales will make weight and he may have ignored the issue totally.
Now everything is too late.
With Tapales losing his belt at the scales, everyone in the Team has an egg in his face. It is tough even to criticize them. But, they brought the situation to themselves and Tapales is left with no belt and the country is left one less world champion.
The Tapales saga should be a lesson to others. It is not everyday that Filipinos get a chance to fight for a world title. Thus, those who are involved should stay focus on the task ahead, including keeping weights in check! There is no excuse not to!
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