FORMER world champion Marlon Tapales bids farewell to the super bantamweight division as he moves up a weight class in search of a second division world title.
“I think I’ll be fighting at 126. I feel so drained at 122,” Tapales told SunStar Cebu.
The 28-year-old last saw action on Nov. 21 after a long hiatus. He knocked out Eden Sonsona in a contracted 132-pound fight in Sanman Promotions’ first “Bubble” boxing show in General Santos City.
After winning the World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight belt in 2016 with an 11th round technical knockout of Pungluang Sor Singyu, Tapales immediately outgrew the weight the following year.
He was forced to relinquish his belt after tipping the scales two pounds overweight against Shohei Omori in Japan.
Tapales, 34-3 with 17 knockouts, moved up in weight and challenged for the interim International Boxing Federation (IBF) super bantamweight belt against Ryosuke Iwasa on Dec. 12. He lost to Iwasa via an 11th round technical knockout in Brooklyn, New York.
Tapales has fought only once in the featherweight division. It was against Goodluck Mrema, who he destroyed in a single round in Quezon City in 2018.
Though he has yet to feel the competition in the heavier division, he has already set his sights on WBO featherweight king Emanuel Navarrete.
“If I perform well at 126, I want a championship fight with Navarrete,” said Tapales, who’s still rated No. 4 by the IBF in the super bantamweight division.
Like Tapales, the 25-year-old Navarrete just recently moved up to the featherweight division. Following his win over Jeo Santisima, Navarrete vacated his WBO super bantamweight belt to move up to featherweight. He won a world title in his second featherweight bout after a unanimous decision win over Ruben Villa in October. / EKA