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MANILA, Philippines – Marlon Tapales admits feeling nervous and anxious as his historic fight with Naoya Inoue nears.
No, the Filipino pride doesn’t fear the Japanese Monster. It’s just how the “Maranding Nightmare” props himself up for the super bantamweight unification bout on December 26, in Tokyo, Japan.
“The nervousness is always there, but it’s normal. Otherwise, if there’s none, there’s no more challenge,” Tapales told Manila-based sportswriters in Filipino. “That’s the biggest challenge for you to persevere and strive harder [in training] so you would know you have a chance.”
Tapales is confident he’ll deal Inoue his first loss and shock the world.
“The confidence is there. I’ll win this one,” said Tapales, not because of the division or the weight, but because of the training he’s undergone and still going through in Baguio City, particularly the Shape-U Gym, Burnham Park and the pine-scented path where he does road works under the watch of strength and conditioning coach Quincy Hatcher and with the personal encouragement of his manager JC Manangquil.
According to Tapales, he’s been doing the hard work for three months, including a few weeks of preparation in the United States, and would pour it all out in a bout that would take about an hour in total.
For Hatcher, Tapales is on track to become the first undisputed Filipino world champion
“So far so good, we’re looking like right on pace. Not too far ahead of schedule,” said Hatcher. “We don’t want to peak too early as we start to get into the weight-cutting part of the journey. Nothing particularly too special. Inoue is a great fighter and so is Marlon. So it’s not levels above or there. Just maintaining what we’re doing, sticking to the game plan and making sure we’re trusting the process, and just keeping our focus.”
According to Hatcher, Baguio’s high altitude is serving its purpose.
“When I first started running with him, you can definitely feel the lungs leaving your body. But with this guy, it doesn’t affect him that much anymore. You can see how he has progressed in his conditioning. We run up the mountain about once a week and he’s sprinting up the hill three miles like it’s nothing,” said Hatcher, who isn’t too concerned about Tapales’ weight.
“Marlon’s around 10 pounds over, give or take,” said Hatcher.
Tagged the huge underdog, Tapales said he’s used to being one.
“In almost all of my fights, I’ve always been the underdog. Since my youth I’ve been fighting and I have survived,” said Tapales, who totes a 37-win, 3-loss record with 19 knockouts and holds the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation 122-pound titles.
Inoue (25-0 with 22 knockouts) owns the World Boxing Council and the World Boxing Organization belts.
Team Tapales, headed by Manangquil, will leave Baguio on December 17, and head for Manila where they will stay before flying to Tokyo on December 19. – Rappler.com