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Marlon Tapales’ upward struggle

Marlon Tapales celebrates after his WBO title-winning victory in Thailand in 2016. Photo / Doug Secuya
09
Aug

Nobody will ever claim Marlon Tapales had an easy ride to a world title.

The 24-year-old Filipino boxer had to overcome a knockout loss to a journeyman and a decision loss to David Sanchez in 2013 to rebuild himself as a contender. If he thought it’d be simpler after earning a mandatory shot at the WBO bantamweight title with a second round stoppage of Japan’s Shohei Omori, he was sorely mistaken.

Just getting to Thailand, where he knocked out Pungluang Sor Singyu on July 27, was a struggle.

Tapales’ manager Rex “Wakee” Salud tells RingTV that their flights from the Philippine province of Cebu to the national capital region of Manila, then to Bangkok, were delayed by a day, meaning, instead of arriving on a Sunday for their fight on Wednesday, they showed up on Monday. Then they had to sit for two hours each way through Bangkok traffic to visit the event’s sponsor while going without food as Tapales struggled to make weight.

Tapales had considered conceding that he couldn’t make the 118-pound limit when he finally made the limit at 3 p.m. – just in time for the weigh-in.

“We had no rest in Thailand,” Salud says.

Tapales, who rose from the canvas twice to stop Sor Singyu out in the 11th for the belt, says he could feel the Thai weakening after he dropped Tapales twice on body shots and that kept him going.

“I did it because of my hard training. Even though I went down, I didn’t put negative thoughts in my mind,” says Tapales (29-2, 12 knockouts) of Lanao del Norte, Philippines, who turned pro at age 16 without a single amateur fight.

What’s next for Tapales? Salud says he’s entertaining several offers for a voluntary defense in November or December, some of which are abroad. Salud says he has received an offer from ALA Promotions, the Cebu-based organization which handles former two-division titleholder Donnie Nietes (current holder of THE RING championship), to host a domestic title defense.

ALA, the only Filipino promotional company with a major TV deal through media giant ABS-CBN and the “Pinoy Pride” series, has expressed interest in promoting Tapales. Salud says he is still weighing his options.

What Salud does want after two title defenses is to move up to junior featherweight to face Cesar Juarez, the Mexican toughman, who knocked out Filipino boxer Albert Pagara in July and gave Nonito Donaire Jr. the fight of his life last December.

“Juarez versus Tapales, that’s a very good fight. We will move to catchweight, 122 pounds, non-title. (Juarez is) not the champion but it’ll be a very good fight on the promotional side,” said Salud, who had previously led the Penalosa brothers Gerry and Dodie Boy, plus Malcolm Tunacao, to world titles.

Tapales joins WBO junior featherweight titleholder Donaire and IBF flyweight titleholder Johnriel Casimero as the only three Filipino titlists after Nietes vacated his title to move to 112 pounds. Don’t count on Tapales trying to replace Manny Pacquiao as the country’s superstar athlete.

“Not me. I want a simple life,” Tapales says.