Tapales unfazed by odds
By Joaquin Henson
Sat, 23 Dec 2023
It won’t be a cakewalk for WBA/IBF superbantamweight champion Marlon Tapales to defeat WBC/WBO titlist Naoya Inoue in their scheduled 12-round bout for undisputed recognition at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Tuesday. The undefeated Inoue is a heavy -1600 favorite to unify the four crowns and add The Ring Magazine strap while Tapales is a +825 underdog.
The odds mean that a bettor must wager $1,600 to win $100 for Inoue. But if Tapales wins, a $100 bet will earn $825. A Tapales victory will bring a windfall for the Filipino’s believers. Tapales said he expects a knockout in the much-awaited showdown. In his own words, it’s either he or Inoue will go down and in his mind, he’s coming home with five straps.
MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, who’s in Tokyo with the Tapales entourage, said Inoue is clearly the prohibitive favorite. “If you pull 20 people to pick a winner, I don’t think you’ll find anyone giving Marlon a chance,” said Gibbons. But that doesn’t mean a Tapales win is impossible.
“Marlon’s in it to win it,” said Gibbons. “The chances are probably 70-30 for Inoue. He’s here in Tokyo like (Nonito) Donaire was. Marlon’s peaking at the right time. I was in Marlon’s camp in Baguio and it was the best camp ever. Baguio’s an amazing place.”
Gibbons described Inoue as a cross between Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao. “Inoue looks unbelievable,” he said. “To be a guy like this, I don’t know if he’s ripe for the taking but this is the best version of Marlon you’re going to see. Most people are giving Marlon a one percent chance of winning but I give him a much higher percentage.”
Tapales, 31, has logged 40 fights compared to Inoue’s 25 and the experience could be a factor in the trenches. Inoue, 30, is an inch taller at 5-5 and has a 2.5-inch advantage in reach. The physical disparity, however, won’t matter as much as the styles that could determine the outcome. Tapales has to be extremely active, quick on the draw and super aggressive to put Inoue on the defensive. The key is not to allow Inoue to dictate. Inoue’s offense is his defense. In their first fight, Donaire exposed Inoue’s chink in his armor by busting his nose and cracking his orbital bone. But Inoue dropped Donaire in the 11th round to clinch a win on points. In their rematch, Donaire engaged Inoue in a slugfest and paid the price, losing by a second round stoppage. Tapales can’t afford to be careless against Inoue.
Photo: IBF and WBA superbantam world champion Marlon Tapales of the Philippines works in Tokyo in front of the Japanese media ahead of his undisputed showdown against WBC and WBO world champion Naoya Inoue of Japan on Tuesday, Dec. 26 at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.
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