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Tapales on way back to throne


PhilBoxing.com




Former WBO bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales is back on track for another shot at the world title and now that he’s based in Los Angeles staying in trainer Rodel Mayol’s apartment, the Tubod, Lanao del Norte, slugger isn’t straying from keeping a sharp focus on the throne.

Tapales, 26, was stripped of the WBO belt in his first defense for scaling two pounds over the limit in 2017 then took a layoff of nearly 1 1/2 years before returning to demolish Tanzania’s Goodluck Mrema in one round at the SM City North EDSA Skydome. Last weekend, he stopped Mexico’s Fernando Vargas Parra in the fifth round at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles to raise his record to 32-2, with 15 KOs. He has won his last six outings inside the distance, five over foreigners.

Against Parra, Tapales launched a brutal body attack that forced the Mexican to surrender on his stool before the start of the sixth round. Parra went down late in the fifth and looked in no condition to continue. Referee Wayne Hedgpeth declared Tapales the winner by knockout under California rules.

Mayol, a former WBC lightflyweight titleholder now living in Los Angeles, said after one more tune-up fight, Tapales will be ready for another title shot. He’s ranked No. 6 in the superbantamweight division by both the IBF and WBO. The IBF champion is Irish-born Terence J. Doheny of Australia while the WBO ruler is Emanuel Navarrete of Mexico.

“Marami pa siyang kulang especially since umakyat siya ng timbang,” said Mayol. “Magagaling ang mga champion sa 122 but sa tingin ko, kaya ni Tapales talunin lahat kaya lang kailangan niyang mag-insayo pa yung timing sa suntok at pag-kuha ng distance sa kalaban at pag-deliver ng malalakas na buntal at kailangan hindi paisa-isa, dapat combination of punches. Ang kagandahan kay Tapales ay veteran na siya. Madali siyang maka-adjust kung may changes ang kalaban. Finally, kailangan niyang tibayan ang depensa at palakasin ang stamina.”

Watching Tapales at ringside in Los Angeles were former two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa’s wife Goody and son J. C. and Cebu boxing manager Rex (Wakee) Salud’s son Ryan. Tapales is co-managed by GerryPens Promotions, MP Promotions and Salud.

Penalosa said Tapales will stay in Los Angeles and continue training with Mayol. It’s possible that Tapales’ next fight will be a title eliminator so he’ll be one win away from a championship crack. Penalosa said Las Vegas international matchmaker Sean Gibbons is helping out Tapales to gain a second shot at the world title. “Marlon could become a world champion again and all he needs is more focus,” said Penalosa.

There’s no question Tapales has talent, skills and heart. When he won the WBO bantamweight title in 2016, Tapales survived two trips to the canvas in the fifth round and dropped defending champon Pungluang Sor Singyu in the sixth and 11th enroute to scoring an 11th round stoppage in Thailand. He was behind in two of the three judges scorecards at the time of the stoppage by Puerto Rican referee Ramon Pena.

Checking in two pounds over the limit was unforgivable as Tapales was dethroned on the scales before his first defense against Japan’s Shohei Omori in Osaka in 2017. The fight went on with the WBO declaring that if Omori won, he would be the new champion but if Tapales won, the throne would be vacant. As it turned out, Tapales knocked out Omori in the 11th round but walked out of the ring a former champion.

Doheny, 32, has a record of 21-0, with 15 KOs while Navarrete, 24, totes a 26-1 mark, with 22 KOs. Mayol said he’s confident that Tapales will beat either champion in a showdown. If Tapales wins his next fight, he should get a crack at Doheny or Navarrete before the year ends.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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