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Tiaga (3-0) Battles Hebi in Undercard of Inoue-Fulton

Promising Japanese Lightweight Taiga Imanaga 今永虎雅 (3-0, 3 KO's) will have the toughest war in his young boxing career this far when he collides hard against strong, more-experienced Indonesian warrior Hebi "Gladiator" Marapu (18-1-1, 13 KO's), on Tuesday, July 25, at the Ariake Sport Arena in Tokyo, Japan, live on ESPN+.

Have the handlers of Taiga made a mistake on this matching up?

Last year, the 23-year-old Tiaga - a slick newcomer southpaw and former amateur standout from Yokohama - successfully turned pro, punishing and stopping all his three opponents, getting the attention of boxing fans in Japan.

Those victims of Tiaga included unheralded Pinoy boxers John Ordonio (9-5-1, 5 KO's) of La Union Province and Roy Sumugat (15-13-1, 7 KO's) of Bacolod, who succumbed to the power of the rookie.

Copy that, but could Tiaga Imanaga do that same fast 'n furious thing to Hebi Marapu too?

That is the question: Could the young Tiaga Imanaga - trained at the famed Ohashi Gym - deliver the same kind of rough treatment to the far more-dangerous Hebi Marapu, the confident, well-trained "Gladiator" from Jakarta, Indonesia?

That is unknown if he can do it or not. In boxing anything could happen.

But what is known is that Tiaga might need to reach for all of his fighting skills while battling Hebi, an Indonesian fighter, known for his coming-forward combatant approach, a well-trained "Gladiator" owner of decent firepower, confidence and ring knowledge.

In fact, to some fans, Hebi seems superior as a fighter to all the opponents Tiaga has ever faced, being the Indonesian a more-complete, fearsome and accomplished fighter.

The numbers say it all: Tiaga has fought only 3 pro bouts. Hebi has battled 20 wars. Most of them victories, only one set back (a majority decision loss) and a draw, and a big number of wins by way of KO.

Therefore, fighting experience is surely on the Indonesian side. Although youth, speed and the advantage of fighting in his own country are on the Nippon fighter’s flank. What do you think?

Furthermore, the Indonesian Hebi has claimed wins behind enemy lines, in countries as far as Switzerland, but also in Thailand and Malaysia.

That could mean that fighting in the legendary "Land of the Rising Sun" might not be a problem at all, and no butterflies in the stomach for the 34-year-old Hebi Marapu.

What's more, Hebi is a committed, disciplined fighter, currently training with renown veteran Canadian-Thai coach David John Treharne.

To me, this is an interesting rumble that spices up the exciting July 25 show in Japan.

"Tiaga Imanaga vs Hebi Marapu" is one of the supporting bouts for the thrilling super bantam title clash between Naoya Inoue and American 122 world champio Stephen Fulton.

The event, set for July 25, is promoted by Hideyuki Ohashi, head of Ohashi Promotions.

An awesome show. May the Best Men Win! 👍👍

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Carlos Costa.

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