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Tapales fast-tracks Vegas training

Filipino world boxing champion Marlon Tapales exchanges pleasantries with former PBA player and coach Rino Salazar during an affair they both attended in Las Vegas. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Rino Salazar

Marlon Tapales is training in Las Vegas as though his proposed super-bantamweight title unification showdown with Naoya Inoue in December is already a done deal.

“I’m doing light sparring,” Tapales said Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) from Sin City.

A vital meeting involving the chief representatives of Inoue and Tapales is taking place this week in Tokyo in the hopes of getting a deal in place for Inoue to risk his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization straps and the Filipino southpaw dangle his World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation belts as well in the Japanese capital.

Sean Gibbons, who handles Tapales’ affairs, is flying to Tokyo to confer with Akihiko Honda, Inoue’s promoter.

“Hope we get everything settled,” Gibbons said.

While talks are ongoing, Tapales is not leaving any stone unturned in his bid to become the first Filipino undisputed champion, a feat not even the great Manny Pacquiao was able to do during his prime.

Tapales took the WBA and IBF titles with a hard-earned split decision win over Murodjon Akhmadaliev last April in San Antonio, Texas.

Inoue had become a two-belt titleholder after crushing American Stephen Fulton last July on home soil.

While waiting for official word about the Inoue clash, Tapales can still afford to attend occasions like birthdays in the Las Vegas area.

In one particular party, Tapales met former Philippine Basketball Association player and coach Rino Salazar, a Vegas resident and an avid fight fan.

Salazar, who has been in a few Pacquiao fights, wished Tapales the best of luck in his planned duel with Inoue.

In the meantime, Tapales will be reporting for gym duties in the coming days as he keenly awaits the result of the Tokyo talks.

“Won’t be taking training for granted because this is the fight that I truly want,” he added.

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