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Tapales stands ‘confident’ in facing Inoue at his best

BAGUIO CITY—Critics aren’t giving Marlon Tapales much chance let alone any advantages as a heavy underdog against Naoya Inoue in their undisputed title fight on December 26 in Tokyo, Japan.

But Tapales sees it differently, putting a lot of faith in his training and his capabilities even when pitted against the top pound-for-pound fighter today.

“I’m confident not because of the weight and division but because of my training. That’s why I know I have an advantage against Inoue,” Tapales said in Filipino.

Tapales has been holed up in Baguio City for the past several weeks, taking full advantage of the City of Pines’ high altitude to be in the best shape of his life under the guidance of American strength and conditioning coach Quincy Hatcher.

The 31-year-old Tubod, Lanao del Norte native also has a slew of sparring partners at his disposal. He sparred for 10 rounds against three different opponents on Monday at Shape-Up Boxing Gym, four against former title contender Vincent Astrolabio and three each against Pete Apolinar and Kevin Aseniero.

Tapales (37-3, 19KOs), who holds the WBA (Super) and IBF super bantamweight belts after stunning Murodjon Akhmadaliev by split decision last April, is bracing for the best version of Inoue.

The undefeated Japanese, whose 22 of his 25 wins have come inside the distance, including an eight-round demolition of Stephen Fulton less than five months ago.

But as dominant as Inoue was against Fulton in his 122-pound debut, Tapales said that wasn’t even his opponent’s top form.

“I didn’t see the true Inoue in his fight against Fulton. When he fought Donaire the first time, that’s the Inoue I’m preparing for because for me, that’s when he was at his best,” said Tapales, referring to the November 2019 fight where Inoue overcame a broken nose and a fractured orbital bone to beat Nonito Donaire Jr. on points.