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HANDS OF STEEL — Power-punching Astrolabio trains with Tapales

MARLON Tapales and his team are raring to meet Naoya Inoue head on in December in Tokyo.(PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Jhay Otamias )

In a bid to approximate the paralyzing power of Japanese pound-for-pound star Naoya Inoue, the camp of Marlon Tapales is bringing in an equally heavy-handed fighter to his Baguio training camp next month.

Vincent “Asero” Astrolabio, coming off a vicious knockout win in Thailand, has agreed to serve as the sparmate of Tapales, who is penciled to battle the undefeated Inoue for all four super-bantamweight world title belts on 26 December in Tokyo.

The decision to join the two-belt champion in the Pines City in early-November is like hitting two birds with one stone.

His 11th-round knockout win over the rugged Nawaphon Kaikanha in Bangkok earned him a shot at the World Boxing Council bantamweight crown being held by Mexican Alejandro Santiago.

Being a title elimination match, Astrolabio secured a ticket to face Santiago in early-2024.

After his stint as Tapales’ sparring partner, Astrolabio and his lead trainer Nonoy Neri are expected to fly to the United States for the next stage of training for the much-awaited WBC 118-lb title shot.

Astrolabio parades a 19-2 record with 14 knockouts and should keep Tapales on his toes.

Last May, he attempted to win the World Boxing Organization bantam strap but lost a 12-round majority decision to Jason Moloney of Australia in Stockton, California.

Tapales is in Las Vegas where he has been training the past several months following his winning of the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation belts from Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan via a hard-earned split decision last April in San Antonio, Texas.

He is expected to return to Manila in the first few days of November to spend the most crucial stage of the buildup in the country.

From Manila, Tapales and his team, made up of trainers Ernel Fontanilla and Ting Ariosa and promoter JC Mananquil, are flying to the Japanese capital at least a week before the fight.

Inoue, the holder of the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization titles, is the heavy betting favorite to become the undisputed champion and boost his stock as the world’s No. 1 boxer regardless of weight.


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