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Getting to Know Marlon Tapales: Naoya Inoue's Next Opponent

The fight for the undisputed super bantamweight title is almost upon us, with Marlon Tapales the man looking to ruin Inoue's perfect record on December 26.

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Marlon Tapales
IBF and WBA super bantamweight world champion Marlon Tapales holds a public workout on December 20, 2023, in Yokohama. (KYODO)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Getting to Know Marlon Tapales: Naoya Inoue's Next Opponent

GLASGOW ― Marlon Tapales is a boxer facing the toughest current assignment in the sport. Passing the Tuesday, December 26 test will result in the Filipino southpaw being crowned the undisputed super bantamweight champion.

A shock win for Tapales would also end Naoya Inoue's hopes of becoming undisputed champion in two weight classes in consecutive years ― a record that would be incredibly difficult to surpass unless the boxing landscape changes significantly in the future.

In the complicated modern era of boxing, politics often prevents fighters from fighting for undisputed champion status within their weight class.

With four championship belts recognized, having the opportunity to win them all is something that eludes most elite boxers throughout their careers.

Kanagawa Prefecture native "Monster" Inoue (25-0, 22 knockouts) is bucking that trend. In December 2022, the 30-year-old became the undisputed champion at bantamweight. Now, 12 months later, Inoue, who won the WBC and WBO 122-pound titles when he defeated Stephen Fulton in July, has the chance to become undisputed champ in the super bantamweight division.

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Marlon Tapales
Super bantamweight boxing champions Marlon Tapales (left) and Naoya Inoue pose with their title belts after Inoue's victory over Stephen Fulton on July 25 at Ariake Arena. (ⒸSANKEI)

'Nightmare' in the Ring

As briefly noted, standing in Inoue's way is Tapales (37-3, 19 KOs). The 31-year-old Filipino, whose nickname is "Nightmare," is a former bantamweight world champion and is the current holder of the IBF and WBA titles at super bantamweight.

With a wealth of experience, Tapales, a southpaw, brings an aggressive mindset to the ring. He is known for his pressure style and high-punch volume.

Will Tapales employ a bold strategy at Ariake Arena as he looks to shock the world and become the undisputed champion in the 122-pound division?

We will find out in due course. For now, read on for a look back at some of Tapales' career highlights and observations on the man who will carry the hopes of the Philippines with him on Tuesday.

Marlon Tapales
Marlon Tapales punches Shohei Omori in the fifth round of their WBO bantamweight title bout on April 23, 2017, in Osaka. (ⒸSANKEI)

Tapales' Early Professional Experiences

Like most new professionals, Tapales fought often after joining boxing's paid ranks at just 16 years old in July 2008. He boxed eight times in 10 months, building an 8-0 record to usher in his pro career. All of these bouts took place in the Philippines, with five of them in Tapales' home province of Lanao Del Norte.

The young fighter's fast start to professional boxing presented him with the chance to box for the Philippine Boxing Federation flyweight title in his ninth contest. It was a May 2009 bout against Brix Ray that saw Tapales defeated for the first time.

In rebounding, Tapales won 13 fights in a row. Except for a May 2011 trip to Las Vegas, where he defeated Alejandro Solorio by majority decision, Tapales again fought exclusively in his homeland during this stage of his career.

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Author: Colin Morrison

Morrison is a freelance sportswriter. Find his stories on SportsLook. Writing since 2016, his byline appears on boxing website NYFights.com and multi-sports platform Spitballingpod.com. His main areas of interest are boxing, soccer, golf and rugby union. Morrison is from Scotland and can be found on X (formerly Twitter) @Morrie1981.

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