Ta­pales in­sists he’s no one-hit box­ing won­der

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By JOAQUIN HEN­SON

WBO ban­tamweight cham­pion Mar­lon Ta­pales will make the first de­fense of his ti­tle against Ja­panese chal­lenger Sho­hei Omori in a re­match at the 8,000-seat Edion Arena in Osaka to­mor­row with the goal of prov­ing he’s no one-hit won­der.

Ta­pales, 25, in­tends to do a re­peat per­for­mance on Omori whom he stopped at 1:35 of the sec­ond round in Ky­oto in De­cem­ber 2015. The Tu­bod, Lanao del Norte, south­paw dropped Omori thrice in the first round then floored him again with a right to the head in the sec­ond. Omori, how­ever, wouldn’t stay down and con­tin­ued to bat­tle but ref­eree Lou Moret stepped in to halt the car­nage.

When Ta­pales trounced Omori, his idol and for­mer twotime world cham­pion Gerry Peñalosa was at ring­side. To­mor­row, Peñalosa will be at ring­side once more to in­spire Ta­pales. Also in the arena will be his mother Maria who played a key role in Ta­pales’ re­cov­ery from two knock­downs in the fifth round to stop Punglu­ang Sor Singyu in the 11th for the WBO crown in Thai­land last July. After a shaky fifth round, Ta­pales’ mother got up from her seat to talk to the fighter in his corner, re­mind­ing him to stay fo­cused, pray to God for strength and make the sign of the cross. Ta­pales lis­tened to his mother and shook off the cob­webs in his head to deck Punglu­ang in the next round then went on to wrest the ti­tle.

Ta­pales hasn’t lost in three out­ings in Ja­pan and plans to ex­tend his un­beaten streak. Omori has bounced back from the de­feat to Ta­pales to score three straight knock­outs with Filipino Rocky Fuentes his lat­est vic­tim. An­other Ja­panese fighter was sup­posed to be Ta­pales’ first chal­lenger last Dec. 30 but the fight was can­celled when Takuma Inoue frac­tured his right hand in train­ing camp. Omori’s back­ers re­port­edly of­fered Ta­pales a $150,000 purse for the re­match. It’s a huge up­grade from the $37,000 pay­check that Ta­pales got for fac­ing Punglu­ang.

At least 16 for­mer Filipino world cham­pi­ons were de­throned in their first ti­tle de­fense and Ta­pales is de­ter­mined not to join the cast of one-hit won­ders. The list in­cludes Roberto Cruz, Mor­ris East, Sonny Boy Jaro, Eric Jamili, Bobby Berna, Pe­dro Adigue, Rene Bar­ri­en­tos, Joma Gam­boa, Manny Mel­chor, Frank Ce­deno, Rico Siodora, Eric Chavez, Flo­rante Con­des, Bern­abe Vil­la­campo, Don­don Sul­tan and Joselito Rivera.

Ta­pales left for Osaka last Mon­day weigh­ing nine pounds over the limit. But yes­ter­day,

philbox­ing.com web ed­i­tor Dong Se­cuya said Ta­pales was only three over and saw no prob­lems mak­ing 118 at the noon­time weigh-in in the Mon­terey Gras­mere Ho­tel to­day. “Mar­lon looks good,” said Se­cuya who’s in Osaka. “He’s not over­con­fi­dent and ex­pects Omori to im­prove but he wants an­other knock­out win. Gerry (Peñalosa) ex­pects an­other knock­out vic­tory for Mar­lon.” Ta­pales’ man­ager Rex (Wa­kee) Salud sent this text from Osaka: “So far, so good, Mar­lon is in shape.” It was Salud who once de­scribed Ta­pales as the “new Manny Pac­quiao” for his twofisted power and ex­cit­ing style.

Omori, 24, is a left­hander like Ta­pales and has a record of 18-1, with 13 KOs. He has reg­is­tered three first round stop­pages, in­clud­ing one over Filipino Al­bert Al­coy in 2013. Ta­pales’ record is 29-2, with 12 KOs. His only losses were to Brix Rey in Suri­gao City in 2009 and to Mex­i­can David Sanchez on a ma­jor­ity 12-round de­ci­sion in Sonora in 2013. Ta­pales is un­de­feated in his last eight out­ings since halt­ing In­done­sia’s Ruben Manakane in Ishikawa, Ja­pan, in May 2013.

Chicago’s Ce­lestino Ruiz, who worked Don­nie Ni­etes’ fifth round stop­page of Raul Gar­cia to re­tain his WBO light­fly­weight ti­tle in Ba­colod last year, will be the third man in the ring.

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