WBA and IBF super bantamweight champion Marlon ‘Nightmare’ Tapales 37-3 (19) is brimming with confidence ahead of his ambitious challenge to WBC and WBO 122-pound champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue 25-0 (22) at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday night.
The Boxing Day bout will not only crown an undisputed super bantamweight king, but also a new Ring Magazine champion.
Filipino southpaw Tapales, 31, arrived in Japan on Tuesday, confident in his conditioning after sparring more than 200 rounds in his four month training camp split between Baguio City and Las Vegas under the guidance of coach Ernel Fontanilla, strength and conditioning trainer Quincy Hatcher and his manager and promoter JC Manangquil of Sanman Promotions.
“I’m in very good shape and wish to win over Inoue clearly,” Tapales said to the media. “I know Inoue is an excellent boxer with high IQ, but I’ll do everything possible to be victorious.”
Tapales will have his work cut out for him against the man widely considered to be no worse than the second best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet.
But Tapales can draw confidence from his current form, which has seen him put together four straight wins including a split decision victory over the tough and talented Murodjon Akhmadaliev 12-1 (9) to claim the IBF and WBA titles in San Antonio, Texas last April.
Tapales beat the 29-year-old Uzbek southpaw by scores of 115-113 and 115-113 to 110-118.
Four-weight world champion Inoue, 30, presents a different puzzle to solves. Tapales says he is ready for anything the Japanese phenom throws at him.
“I believe I have good chances of winning because I trained real hard for this fight,” Tapales said to Rappler, adding a knockout is the probable outcome.
“Most likely, somebody will fall. It’s either him or me,” said Tapales, who claims he is currently between three and five pounds over the division limit of 122-pounds.
“Inoue may be the favourite, but with my training and preparation, I think I would be able to hurt him.”
Coach Fontanilla said Tapales left no stone unturned in preparation for this bout.
“He’s ready. Only the fight is lacking,” Fontanilla said.
MP Promotions head honcho Sean Gibbons, who co-promotes Tapales, said his boxer is ready to “stun and shock the world”.
At the start of the month Fontanilla said Tapales was on track to shock the world.
“Our camp today is very good, we really gave it everything here, especially what the boss needed… we got really good sparring to give a fight here,” Fontanilla told ABC-CBS News.
“We’re here, we’ve been rehearsing all the time, we’re working really hard, so we can’t waste this opportunity, so as a coach, I’m really giving my best because you can see Marlon Tapales’ hard work, we really gave it our all because we want to let’s also be the first Filipino undisputed.”