Two-belt super bantamweight ruler Marlon Tapales has been training hard for his Boxing Day unification showdown with “Monster” Naoya Inoue for weeks now, it not months. The underdog going in, as have all of Inoue’s opponents since the Japanese star won his first world title back in April of 2014, Tapales is determined to upset the odds on December 26 in Tokyo.
Tapales, 37-3(19) and hailing from the Philippines, is an aggressive, dangerous southpaw who throws a lot of punches in his fights. Nicknamed “Nightmare,” the 31 year old hold the WBA and IBF title to Inoue’s WBC and WBO belts. Fellow Filipino Jonjon Estrada, who has sparred some torrid sessions with Tapales, is picking his countryman to get the win next month, either by KO or by decision.
“He is in very good condition,” Estrada said to GMA News. “His punches surprised me because speed and power are there. Nothing is impossible if [Inoue] brawls with Tapales. But even if they finish the rounds (and go the distance) I would still go with Tapales because he never lets up, punches a lot, closes the distance, and he is aggressive. I do not believe the people who say that [Tapales has no chance against Inoue] because he is a two-division champion and he is training hard. He is preparing hard and [is] ready to fight. From what I experienced in sparring, he is very strong.”
Of course, Estrada, who is 17-11-1(14) as a pro, can easily be looked at as a man who is biased, seeing how he has been in Tapales’ employ and he is his countryman. However, as hungry and determined as Tapales seems to be, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to write off his chances. Inoue, 25-0(22) is a very special talent, we all know that, and the 30 year old also throws himself into intense, leave no stone unturned training.
We fans could be the lucky ones with this fight, set as it it go out during the festive holidays. Might it even be that one of the very last fights of the year ends up being The Fight of the Year? Tapales has a fan-friendly style, and we all know what Inoue can do. This potentially explosive mix, in fact you could say guaranteed explosive mix, promises to give us something memorable.
Inoue has to be the pick to win, but this one could prove to be one of “The Monster’s” toughest fights. Maybe.