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TOKYO, Japan – Marlon Tapales admitted that he failed to keep in step with Naoya Inoue as he suffered a 10th-round knockout loss in their super bantamweight unification clash.
Inoue tagged Tapales with two wicked rights in the tenth round and clinched the undisputed world super bantamweight championship on Tuesday, December 26, at the sell-out Ariake Arena here.
Ahead in the scorecards, Inoue wobbled Tapales with a right straight then followed it up with another straight that brought the Filipino down to his knees at the 2:06-minute mark.
The “Japanese Monster” thus wrested Tapales’ World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation belts and added them to his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization crowns, becoming only the tenth boxer in history to do so.
Inoue, the current pound-for-pound king, raised this sterling record to 26-0 with 23 knockouts. Tapales dropped to 37-4 with 19 knockouts.
“I did not win, but I gave it all,” said Tapales in Filipino. “Inoue is skillful and fast. He is too quick and I cannot catch him.”
The 30-year-old Inoue hinted of things to come when he sent Tapales to his knees with two rights and a left hook in the fourth round. Tapales beat the count and the bell rang as Inoue was about to resume his attack.
Just when the 15,000 crowd crowd expected Inoue to blow over Tapales, the Filipino countered well to take the fifth round.
Although Inoue landed the heavier punches, Tapales landed more blows in the eighth.
Even Inoue was surprised when he dropped Tapales.
“I saw no signs of damage and fatigue on his face, so I didn’t expect him to go down,” said Inoue in the post-fight interview through a translator. “Shout out to Tapales for fighting me. He was a tough opponent.”
An hour before the fight, Inoue was listed as a -2000 favorite and Tapales a +950 underdog. Meaning, those who picked Inoue and wagered P2,000 on the Japanese netted just P2,100.
Inoue’s other Filipino victims previous campaigns were Cris Omayao (2012), Jerson Mancio (2013), Warlito Parrenas (2015), and Michael Dasmarinas (2021), all of whom lost by knockout.
He also beat future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire twice, the first by unanimous decision in 2019 and by knockout in 2022.
Apart from his trainer Ernel Fontanilla, Tapales was accompanied by SanMan Promotions head JC Manangquil and MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions president Sean Gibbons.
“I did my best and gave it all in my training and preparation, but I still lost,” said Tapales. “Inoue’s a powerful puncher, but it was his speed that made the difference. It affected my timing.”
Gibbons said Tapales will return to the ring next year and try to become a world champion again.
Cebuano John Paul Gabunilas suffered a fifth-round technical knockout defeat to Japanese prospect Kanamu Sakama in a flyweight bout. Gabunilas fell to 10-3 while Sakama improved to 9-0 with eight stoppages. – Rappler.com
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said Naoya Inoue won via technical knockout. This has been corrected.)