AFTER a long wait, Marlon Tapales finally faces International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Association (WBA) super bantamweight king Murodjon Akhmadaliev on April 8 at the Boeing Center at the Tech Port in San Antonio, Texas.
“I’m very excited about this fight because I’ve been waiting for this fight for a long time. This is a huge opportunity for me,” Tapales told SunStar Cebu.
Tapales earned mandatory status for Akhmadaliev’s IBF belt after winning a world title eliminator with Hiroaki Teshigawara on Dec. 11, 2021. Tapales, the former World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight titleholder, destroyed Teshigawara in two rounds in Carson, California.
In the following month, Tapales was mandated by the IBF to challenge Akhmadaliev. But the WBA also ordered Ronny Rios to challenge Akhmadaliev right after.
Both boxing organizations then agreed that Rios should go first before Tapales.
Tapales was forced to fight an active fight and took on Mexican veteran Jose Estrella on May 14, 2022 also in Carson. He demolished Estrella also in two rounds.
After the win, Tapales stayed in the US to continue his training under Ernie Fontanilla at the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas.
The 30-year-old Tapales has been sparring with fellow Pinoys, former world champion Jerwin Ancajas and unbeaten Jade Bornea.
Akhmadaliev, in the meantime, stopped Rios in the 12th round of their world championship bout in San Antonio last year.
Rios, a 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist, became a world champion in 2020 after dethroning Daniel Roman by split decision for the two belts. He successfully defended his titles against Ryosuke Iwasa, Jose Velasquez and Rios.
“He’s a very good fighter. He has the stamina, has very good movement and footwork,” said Tapales. “But I believe in myself that I can beat him, that I can match his movements, and that I have more power in my punches.”
Tapales is 36-3 with nine knockouts, while the 28-year-old Akhmadaliev is 11-0 with eight knockouts.
February 10, 2023
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