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Marlon Tapales not intimidated by Murodjon Akhmadaliev: ‘I’m ready to be champion’

Marlon Tapales walks off after demolishing Hiroaki Teshigawara in two rounds. Photo by Jhay Oh Otamias
14
Dec

Marlon Tapales needed an explosive, dominant victory last Saturday when he faced off with Hiroaki Teshigawara at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.

A win in the IBF junior featherweight eliminator would set him up for a shot at IBF/WBA titleholder Murodjon Akhmadaliev, while a loss would relegate him to gatekeeper status.

The 29-year-old Tapales (35-3, 18 knockouts) turned in his most dominant victory in a meaningful fight in six years, scoring two knockdowns against the Japanese fighter in round one before finishing him with a right hook just seconds into the second to put himself into position for the mandatory shot.

Teshigawara (22-3-2, 15 KOs) was rated no. 7 by The Ring at 122 pounds heading into the bout, and hadn’t lost since a 2016 split decision against Ryo Akaho.

Promoter Jim Claude Manangquil of Sanman Promotions tells The Ring that the IBF will likely order the Akhmadaliev-Tapales fight by March or April. Though Tapales, a former WBO bantamweight titleholder, will undoubtedly be an underdog, Manangquil insists Tapales is a live dog under new trainers Ernel Fontanilla and Ting Ariosa.

“Tapales is a different monster now. Everyone counted him out when he lost to [Ryosuke] Iwasa. It’s different now. He is in great shape and stronger. He will beat MJ,” said Manangquil, who co-promotes Tapales with MP Promotions.

Tapales of Lanao del Norte province in the Philippines has struggled with being consistent in the ring. Tapales burst onto the world stage in 2015 with a second round knockout of Shohei Omori in a title eliminator that was reminiscent of the win over Teshigawara.

Tapales’ 2016 title win over Panya Uthok in Thailand, an eleventh round knockout, came only after he was down twice himself in round 5. He lost the title on the scales the following year after blowing the weight for a rematch against Omori, and languished in tuneup bouts before losing to Ryosuke Iwasa by eleventh round TKO in December of 2019.

Tapales credits his new trainers, as well as promoter Jim Claude Manangquil with helping get his career back on track. He says he will remain in Los Angeles to continue preparations for when he’s ready to fight for the world title.

Akhmadaliev (10-0, 7 KOs) has made two defenses of the unified titles he won by split decision over Daniel Roman in January of 2020. His most recent bout was a month ago, dominating a game Jose Velasquez on a DAZN card headlined by Demetrius Andrade’s destruction of Jason Quigley.

Tapales says he isn’t intimidated by the challenge of being an underdog.

“I’m ready to fight and be the champion,” said Tapales.

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