Tapales, Ancajas versus the Inoues - Continuing Saga in PH-Japan Rivalry
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Thu, 26 Oct 2023
Tapales (L) and Ancajas (R).
It is reportedly set---Marlon Tapales will be tangling with the dreaded Japanese Monster Naoya Inoue for the undisputed world super bantamweight championship on December 26, 2023 in Tokyo in what many billed as one of the most important major fights of the year.
But before that, Takuma Inoue, Noaya's younger brother will try to hold on to one of the four major bantamweight belts left by Naoya as he defends his just won WBA title against another Filipino, former IBF super flyweight king Jerwin Ancajas also in Tokyo on November 15, 2023.
To the jaded fans, especially this writer, these bouts are but segments of the continuing saga of Japan-Philippine rivalry in boxing's lighter weight divisions that started in the 50s and 60s.
Curiously, in most of the past major bouts involving prominent boxers from the two nations, Filipino fighters had been the underdogs as are the case in the forthcoming two title bouts. The main reasons being they're pitted against more known or established Japanese foes and worst, in their home turf, too.
But Filipino fighters have been known to pull off surprises and great victories, too. And in some losing bouts, they forced their more celebrated Japanese foes to fight their hardest and best after earlier putting the scare in them and the highly partisan hometown crowd.
Nonito Donaire busting Naoya and having him on the brink of knockout or stoppage at certain junctures in their first fight in Seitama in 2019 (what a wasted opportunity!) easily comes to mind. I was already saying to myself, the Monster has finally met not just his match but his master!
But then, Naoya got his second wind as Nonito began to tire in the later rounds and with the help of a well placed punch to the body that forced Nonito to get down to a knee for an automatic knockdown, Naoya managed to win on points. Naoya in the process retained his IBF belt, won Nonito's WBA crown and the vacant Ring lineal world title.
It was still a magnificent defeat for Nonito which brings to my memory two other lost fights at bantamweight where decidedly underdog Filipinos who gallantly battled the odds:
1.Philippine champion Tiny Palacio, not even world rated at the time, shocked the great Fighting Harada and his hordes of fans by scoring a rare knockdown on the way to losing on points in a non title bout in the mid 60s; and
2. Former flyweight titlist Malcolm Tunacao extending the then streaking undefeated world bantamweight kingpin Shinsuke Yamanaka to the 12th and final round before losing by stoppage. By that time, Tunacao was the only fighter to have last that long against the Japanese KO artist champion.
But then again, who would forget Gerry Penalosa conquering the then mighty and feared Japanese champion Hiroshi Kawashima who was noted for his deadly body punching for the WBA super flyweight championship in the early 90s? Though the fight also held in Japan went the full route, there was no denying that Gerry had the win sewn up as he energetically jogged his way to center of the ring in the final round against a visibly spent and beat up Kawashima whose famed body punching and characteristic strong finish was no match to Penalosa's speed, skill and excellent conditioning.
I believe Jerwin Ancajas and Marlon Tapales have it in them to continue with the great fighting traditions and legacies of our Filipino fighters in this continuing saga of Japan versus the Philippines boxing rivalry.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
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