MANILA, Philippines – For the past two years, Jun Talape had been living in Singapore, imparting the wisdom he had accrued from his 31 professional bouts to students as the head coach of the Vanda Boxing Club.
Talape hadn’t fought in nearly 6 years, saying a feud with his then-management convinced him to walk away from boxing after losing a decision to compatriot Ronald Pontillas in 2011. But when he had seen local promotion Singapore Fighting Championship (SFC) dabble in pro boxing last year with 4 shows, he decided to give it a shot in his new hometown.
“He came to me and said he thinks he might want to fight,” said Arvind Lalwani, head of SFC. “I was like ‘that would be brilliant. That’d be a good comeback.'”
Now 31, Talape (21-9-1, 8 knockouts) will return to the ring on Saturday, April 8 in a 6-round junior welterweight bout against Indonesia’s Heri Andriyanto (22-23-2, 10 KOs) as part of SFC 5 at the Foochow Building in Singapore. The card will feature a mix-match of combat sports, including 7 pro boxing fights, plus kickboxing, and mixed martial arts of the professional and amateur variety.
The native of Abra province in the Philippines had turned pro in 2002 and won 9 of his first 10 bouts. Talape was usually on the winning side in his home country but fell short against world title challengers in Thailand and South Africa, drawing with Yuya Miyagi in Japan and being stopped in Romania by Viorel Simion.
“He still has it,” says Lalwani, a former Singapore national team coach who has been helping train Talape. “He’s a beast. He hits hard, of course after 5 years there’s gonna be some ring rust. Come April 8 he’s gonna show he hasn’t lost it yet.”
Talape had already moved on from boxing when Vanda Boxing Club contacted him on Facebook to teach at their gym, which caters to different disciplines of martial arts.
“During that time we were about to reach him, he was actually looking for a job. When somebody from Vanda tried to contact him, he said yes and now he’s here,” said James Peñalosa of the Vanda Group, who expects Talape’s family to fly in for the fight.
The show will be headlined by Muhamad Ridhwan, a 3-time Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist Muhamad Ridhwan (6-0, 1 5 KOs), who will face Waldo Sabu (12-6, 2 KOs) in a 10-round junior lightweight bout. Ridhwan turned pro in February of 2016 in Cebu City on a card promoted by ALA Promotions, the Philippine-based company Lalwani hopes to pattern a Singapore boxing scene after.
Talape also is the trainer for Alexandrew David, a 2-0 (1 KO) boxer who will fight a 4-rounder against Indonesia’s Wellem Reyk on the undercard.
With Singapore’s boxing scene still developing (just 6 boxers from the city-state have fought in the past year), having Talape around adds much-needed experience.
“We’ve got a plan for another 3 shows and I’m gonna be promoting [Talape] to fight on all 3 shows,” said Lalwani. “And eventually try to go for the OPBF and WBA Asia titles as well.” – Rappler.com