BAGUIO CITY — Marlon Tapales sounded like Mike Tyson when a handful of Manila-based scribes paid a visit to his high-altitude training camp on Monday.
Tapales is in the final and most crucial stage of his preparation for the undisputed world super-bantamweight clash with Naoya Inoue on 26 December in Tokyo.
Lined up against one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Tapales swears he is using fear the right way.
“Being nervous is natural to people but you have to learn how to handle it… you should learn how to use fear in your favor,” Tapales, the reigning World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation titlist, insists “fear is something that challenges me to push myself harder in training.”
Tyson once said: “Fear is your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s like fire. If you can control it, it can cook for you; it can heat your house. If you can’t control it, it will burn everything around you and destroy you.”
The fear of Inoue, holder of the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization jewels, is understandable.
Armed with a 25-0 record with 22 knockouts, Inoue is the complete package, boasting of incredible speed and paralyzing power.
The Filipino southpaw, however, is unfazed by Inoue’s immense advantages, believing that he has more than a puncher’s chance of scoring a potential upset of the year winner.
Living up to his words, Tapales cranked up his strength and conditioning routine by taking just about anything fitness coach Quincy Hatcher had told him to do.
He also had 10 intense rounds with three sparring partners, including one-time world title challenger Vincent Astrolabio.
Told that he is the massive underdog, Tapales just brushed the oftentimes below-the-belt criticisms off and maintained that he won’t hand the WBA and IBF straps to the “Monster” on a silver platter.
That is the same belief of JC Mananquil, the fighter’s Filipino promoter who has been providing the WBA-IBF ruler everything he needs, including the intangibles that could prove to be the gamechanger.
“I have given what he likes and he is in a very good mood since getting here… and that’s something that has made this camp terrific,” Mananquil said, noting that the Shape Up Gym, utilized by Manny Pacquiao more than a decade ago, has been more than ideal.
Tapales and his team, also composed of lead trainer Ernel Fontanilla, Mananquil’s right-hand man Ramon Falgui and facilitator Mike Pelayo, are set to leave for Tokyo on 19 December.
The megabuck matchup with Inoue was made possible by Sean Gibbons, who heads the Manny Pacquiao-owned MP Promotions.