Naoya Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) came out the victor as expected, but not without some tense moments as Marlon Tapales gave as good as he got.
The brave Pinoy warrior clearly ran out of steam in the middle rounds as the sustained beating dished out by “The Monster” eventually took its toll.
Prior to the fight, sportswriter extraordinaire Homer Sayson had quizzed me on what it would take for Tapales to win. My reply was simple. He had to stand his ground early and fight smart. If he doesn’t Inoue respect him he will walk right through him.
True enough, Tapales fought well in the first quarter of the bout but there’s a reason why Inoue is at the apogee of the sport right now, and he was just too strong, too fast and too tough even for someone as tough as “The Nighmare.”
THE FIGHT. Tapales (37-4, 19 KOs) started out solid, wisely standing his ground to Inoue and letting him know he was no pushover. He even landed a flush left straight which got Inoue’s attention in the first round.
The next two rounds were also fought evenly, although you could tell, Inoue was the heavier puncher in there.
In the fourth, both fighters shifted to their respective body attacks as if on cue, and Tapales gave as good as he got.
But near the end of the round, he got caught by a left hook which seemed to stun him and Inoue — the master finisher that he is, followed it up with several flurries resulting in a knockdown.
Tapales got up at the count of eight but was visibly shaken.
Inoue tried to end matters in the next round as he went on the offensive, but Tapales defended well. Impressively, he exchanged with Inoue, seemingly able to shake off the effects of the knockdown the round before.
Inoue started to take more chances in the 7th as he opened up and unloaded. Tapales was able to land some punches as well but Inoue was clearly taking over at this point in the fight. Even those punches that Tapales caught on his arms and shoulders were weighing heavily on him.
Tapales seemed to briefly come alive in the 8th as he stood his ground and unloaded, but in the ninth, he became an easier target and was visibly weakening and fading.
The merciful end came less than a minute in the 10th round as Inoue pummeled Tapales back against the ropes and Tapales stumbled forward and went down.
He tried feebly to get up but the ref had seen enough and called for the denouement of the fight.
PROGNOSIS. I liken Inoue to a young, but more polished Manny Pacquiao. And just like the Pacman he has started his ascent across the weight divisions as with the Tapales victory he became a two-division undisputed champion.
Will he ever surpass the Pacman? I don’t think so. But it will certainly be fun seeing him try.
LAST ROUND. It’s on Sofia Inez G. Garcia who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!