Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs. Marlon Tapales set for April 8 on DAZN
On Saturday, Murodjon Akhmadaliev will put his IBF and WBA junior featherweight titles on the line against his mandatory challenger Marlon Tapales, at Boeing Center at Tech Port, San Antonio, Texas.
Akhmadaliev, The Ring-rated No. 2 junior featherweight, will be returning to action for the first time since he beat Ronny Rios (TKO 12) last June.
“I am very happy to be back in the ring. It’s been a while since my last mandatory against Rios,” Akhmadaliev (11-0, 8 knockouts) told The Ring. “[I] injured my hand and it took some time to get back to normal. [I’m] happy to be back in San Antonio [where I beat Rios], great city, great boxing fans!”
Akhmadaliev has spent 10 months sidelined due to the severity of the aforementioned hand injury.
“It was my left hand. In the second round, I landed the punch and felt pain,” he explained. “I came back in the corner and said that I hurt my hand. [My] corner told me not to worry about it and just box and do my thing. I hurt it little more each round and [the] pain was getting worse but thank God I was able to win the fight. After we went to hospital, it was seven fractures. So, yes, it was tough but, again, I am feeling good now.”
The 28-year-old was a standout amateur, winning silver at the 2015 World Championships and bronze at the 2016 Olympics before seamlessly transitioning into the pros.
The dynamic Uzbekistan southpaw edged the more experienced Daniel Roman (SD 12) in early 2020 to become the IBF/WBA 122-pound titleholder and has made three successful defenses.
Akhmadaliev feels ready to dip his toe back into the deep end against Tapales in chief support to Jesse Rodriguez-Cristian Gonzalez, who meet to contest the vacant WBO flyweight title.
“Tapales is my mandatory in IBF. He’s [a] former [WBO bantamweight] champion and I take him as a champion,” he said. “I expect a difficult fight against a top world-class fighter. I’ve watched a little bit of his highlights and he has similar to my style. He’s aggressive; he comes to fight, so it should be an action-packed fight, where both guys can punch. At the end of the day, the ring will show who’s better.”
Many boxing fans are intrigued by the prospect of Akhmadaliev facing the winner of Stephen Fulton versus Naoya Inoue, who are tabbed to fight in July for Fulton’s WBC and WBO 122-pound titles. However Akhmadaliev isn’t getting too far ahead of himself at this juncture.
“Honestly I don’t think about them at the moment. I am only thinking about April 8 and my goal to defend what’s mine,” he said. “All I can tell is it’s great that they made this fight. I wish them good luck in their camps and may the best man win.
“My target is Tapales, that is what I am concentrated on but, as a boxer and a champion, my goal is to beat all of the top guys in my division and become undisputed. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Akhmadaliev’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, who is famed for his work with Dmitry Bivol, Ruslan Provodnikov and Viktor Postol, knows this will be a tough assignment for his fighter but hopes to parlay a victory into a bigger opportunity later this year.
“This fight with Tapales will be a very tough test for MJ,” said Kornilov. “We are looking forward to this being one of the final career-making fights before he gets his chance to fight for undisputed in the near future.”
Tapales (36-3, 19 KOs), The Ring-rated No. 6 junior featherweight, has worked his way up through the ranks in the Philippines and scored wins over countrymen Randy Petalcorin (TKO 2) and Warlito Parrenas (TKO 7). He narrowly lost to David Sanchez (MD 12), in Mexico, but upset unbeaten Shohei Omari (TKO 2) in a WBO bantamweight title eliminator in Japan.
The Filipino headed to Thailand and twice got off the canvas to stop Pungluang Sor Singyu (KO 11) to pick up the WBO 118-pound title. In his first defense, Tapales headed back to Japan to face Omari in a rematch. Although he missed weight and was stripped of his title, he stopped Omari in the 11th round. Over a year of inactivity followed but Tapales returned with three wins before losing to Ryosuke Iwasa (TKO 11) in an IBF 122-pound title eliminator. He’s back on track with three wins including an impressive stoppage over Hiroaki Teshigawara (TKO 2).
Jesse Rodriguez vs. Cristian Gonzalez, plus undercard, will be broadcast on DAZN at 7:00 pm ET/ 4:00 pm PT.
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