Philippines, 29 Mar 2020
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INSIDE SPORTS: A FIGHTING HEART AND A FERVENT FAITH


PhilBoxing.com




There were two things that manifested themselves in the sensational 11th round knockout victory of mandatory challenger Marlon ?The Nightmare? Tapales against two-time world bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu of Thailand last Wednesday in the historic city of Ayutthaya some 85 kilometers north of the Thai capital of Bangkok. The first was a courageous Filipino heart that he said he acquired from his mother who was a lady who knew no fear, and the second was a fervent faith in God who mother and son called upon when all seemed lost as the Thai world champion sent Tapales crashing to the canvas not once but twice in the fifth round.

Tapales himself admitted that the first punch which was a vicious right straight to the midsection really hurt but that he used the second knockdown to recuperate. Marlon?s handlers led by trainer Fernando Ocon who lost his voice screaming out instructions and veteran Brix Flores, and well-known promoter Rex ?Wakee? Salud figured it was the end of a lifelong dream. But they hadn?t reckoned with the fighting heart of the Filipino.

As Marlon told us on his arrival ?the Filipino is different. We have a fighting spirit and the heart of a champion.?

He said this was my dream and he was not going to give the belt away after Pungluang, who had beaten 20 Filipinos before him, he was determined to break the trend and the most satisfying moment was to beat a Thai fighter in his hometown.

During his training, Marlon had concentrated on winning by a knockout and not risking a hometown decision which Thailand is noted for.

Tapales paid tribute to his mother who accompanied him on what turned out to be an epic journey and said she was his inspiration and that he inherited his courage from her.

Marlon's mother said she was happy that her son would break the trend of Pungluang?s victories over Filipino challengers including southpaw AJ ?Bazooka? Banal who was knocked out in the 9th round in a battle for the vacant WBO title at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Tapales figured in an eight round bout on the undercard and had an opportunity to size up the Thai champion and said he was confident he could beat him.

The two knockdowns in the 5th round somehow happened to be the turning point in the fight. Marlon?s mother couldn?t stand to see her son grimacing in pain after the first knockdown. She told us she felt sorry for her 24 year old son and wanted to stop the fight and told his trainers ?give him the towel, stop it.? But Marlon thought for a moment and told her, "I can take him!?

His mother who had climbed on the ring apron enjoined Marlon ?just pray, make the sign of the cross and fight.?

There was a religious fervor in his mother?s voice which touched him and gave him a surge of confidence that led to his dropping Pungluang in the sixth round which was the turning point in the bout which official supervisor Leon Panoncillo said was one of the best fights he had seen in Thailand and a candidate for the ?Fight of the Year.? Brix Flores had stressed that he believed Marlon was the best Filipino boxer today and he was quick, moved well and had great defense and awesome power.

The result vindicated Brix?s assessment of Tapales who trained daily for over two hours and for more than two months since the title fight had been postponed for a month.

Rather than hurt Tapales? preparation it helped him and neither the long hours travelling to and fro for the press conference, the weighin and the fight itself hardly made a dent on his condition and if anything strengthened his resolve to come home with the bantamweight belt.

Marlon Tapales may not have been as well-known as some of the highly-publicized ALA fighters but his incredible fighting heart, his competitive spirit and his abiding faith in God helped inscribe his name in the recent annals of Philippine boxing and in the hearts and minds of millions of his countrymen.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ronnie Nathanielsz.


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