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Finally, a date for Tapales


PhilBoxing.com





After three postponements and a cancelled purse bid, there is finally a date set for IBF superbantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev’ fourth title defense against Filipino mandatory challenger Marlon Tapales. It will be on April 8 in San Antonio, Texas unless something untoward happens to prevent or delay the fight.

Akhmadaliev, 28, has been avoiding an engagement with Tapales for over a year. He also holds the super WBA belt but IBF president Daryl Peoples took the high road in ordering the defense last September. The Uzbek, however, couldn’t oblige because a bone in his left hand was shattered to bits during a bout against Ronny Rios last June. Akhmadaliev had also been down with COVID. A purse bid was scheduled early this year but the fight was negotiated instead with Matchroom promoting it on DAZN.

For Tapales, it’s a chance for redemption after he was stripped of the WBO bantamweight strap for failing to make the 118-pound limit in his first defense in 2017. He has won 15 of his last 16 bouts since 2013 and is more than ready to ascend the throne. Tapales, 30, recently married his long-time girlfriend Jayvee Sheen Roda in his home province of Lanao del Norte and last September, relocated alone to Los Angeles to resume training with coaches Ernel Fontanilla and Ting Ariosa at the Wild Card Gym.

Akhmadaliev won’t be an easy nut to crack. He’s a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist with a pro record of 11-0, including eight KOs compared to Tapales’ 36-3, including 19 KOs. When the Uzbek turned pro in 2018, Tapales had compiled a 30-2 mark so experience is widely on the Filipino’s side. A taint in Akhmadaliev’s amateur record is a loss to Tapales’ stablemate Jade Bornea via a third round stoppage in the 49 kg division at the Asian Junior Championships in Subic in 2013.

Akhmadaliev, who bagged a silver medal at the 2015 World Championships, went through a series of accidents as a boy. First, a car ran over his right leg which was broken in four places from the knee to the foot. Then, he fell off a carousel and broke his left leg, a little above the knee. The injury Akhmadaliev sustained in the Rios fight was just another scar in his history of misfortunes. But despite the setbacks, he has emerged a world champion recognized by two governing bodies. Still, Akhmadaliev lacks the respect usually given to a fighter of his caliber. “I’m getting called out every single day by people, champions, mandatories, amateur guys I’ve faced,” he said, quoted by Phil Rogers in London’s Boxing News. “It’s OK, I get it. I’m getting challenged by every person available so I’m good with that. I’ll stand my ground until my last breath.” Tapales is next in line to try knocking the Uzbek off his pedestal.


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


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