By Rene Bonsubre Jr – Three years ago, Marlon Tapales was the toast of Philippine boxing. His made for Hollywood performance against Pungluang Sor Singyu (Panya Uthok) in Ayutthaya, Thailand earned him the WBO bantamweight world title. Tapales had to rise from the canvas twice in the fifth, endure the pain from hellish body shots, to stop the Thai in round eleven.
But inexplicably, his career never took off. His handlers could not stage a title defense for him at home and this lead to nine months of inactivity. He would then lose his title on the scales in Japan. Tapales was a heavy favorite against Shohei Omori, a man he already stopped in two rounds in 2015. He checked in more than a pound above the division limit of 118. The title was declared vacant but the fight pushed through with Tapales winning by eleventh round TKO. He moved up one division higher but had to wait seventeen months for another fight, an easy one against Tanzanian Goodluck Mrema in Metro Manila, which lasted less than a round.
Things began to change this year. He signed with Manny Pacquiao’s company, MP Promotions and got two fights in the United States. He stopped Mexico’s Fernando Vargas Parra in five rounds and Roberto Castañeda in three.
The 27 year old Tapales (33-2,16KO’s) will be getting another big break this December 7 when he faces Japanese Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3,16KO’s) for the IBF interim world super bantamweight title at the Barclays Center in New York.
Daniel Roman of the U.S., who is the unified IBF/WBA champion in the 122 lb. division, was reported to have suffered a shoulder injury in training camp last September paving the way for this interim title bout.
“I am happy training here in Los Angeles,” Tapales told this writer in a short chat, “I have a lot of sparring partners here. I am now comfortable fighting at 122 lbs, I feel strong.”
“I have seen my opponent fight. I am familiar with his style. We are both southpaws, We fought on the same card last February. I know I can take him.” Tapales added.
Iwasa beat the tough Mexican Cesar Juarez by tenth round technical decision in that card held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The 29 year old Iwasa previously held the IBF super bantamweight crown but lost in his second title defense to Australian TJ Doheny by unanimous decision last year. Iwasa has beaten many Filipino fighters, Ernesto Saulong, Glen Medura and Dennis Tubieron to name a few.
“I want to be a world champion again. I am training hard and praying for that to happen.” Tapales concluded.
Iwasa is ranked number one by the IBF while Tapales is at number three. They will be one of the main supporting bouts for the WBC world middleweight title fight between Jermall Charlo and Dennis Hogan.