Filipino boxers

Tapales falls in 10th as Inoue unifies super bantam with KO win

Delfin Dioquino

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Tapales falls in 10th as Inoue unifies super bantam with KO win

SLUGFEST. Naoya Inoue (left) and Marlon Tapales during their super bantamweight unification fight.

Wendell Alinea/MP Promotions

Naoya Inoue proves why he is one of the best closers in boxing as he unifies the super bantamweight division with a knockout masterclass against Marlon Tapales

MANILA, Philippines – Marlon Tapales’ bid to become the first Filipino undisputed champion came to a rather harsh end at the hands of Japanese star Naoya Inoue.

Tapales lasted 10 rounds, but Inoue proved why he is one of the best closers in boxing as he unified the super bantamweight division with a knockout win at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Tuesday, December 26.

A barrage of punches capped by a right straight to the head floored the Filipino with 2:10 minutes left in the 10th round as Inoue added Tapales’ WBA and IBF belts to his collection that included the WBC and WBO titles.

Known as the “Japanese Monster,” Inoue joined Terence Crawford as the only undisputed champions in two weight classes in the four-belt era.

“I’m so relieved at the moment because I got victorious against such a tough, strong, very spirited opponent like Marlon Tapales,” said Inoue through a translator.

“Thank you so much for fighting me.”

Inoue extended his stoppage streak to seven fights – a run that includes two other Filipino victims in Nonito Donaire and Michael Dasmariñas – and hiked his unbeaten record to 26-0 with 23 knockouts.

Hoping to size up Inoue, Tapales adopted a defensive approach in the first three rounds before he let loose and turned the aggressor starting in the fourth.

That change in style, though, cost Tapales as he got decked late in the fourth round following a solid left hook from Inoue.

But Tapales survived the knockdown and went on to engage Inoue in a compelling mano a mano over the next six rounds until he succumbed to the power of the man considered as boxing’s reigning pound-for-pound king.

Tapales saw his four-fight winning streak snapped and fell to 37-4, leaving the Philippines without a world champion to end the year. –

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said Naoya Inoue won via technical knockout. This has been corrected.)

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.