BAGUIO CITY — Marlon Tapales is bracing for the best-ever Naoya “Monster” Inoue in their undisputed world super-bantamweight title showdown on 26 December in Tokyo.
It was Inoue who needed less than two rounds to crush Filipino four-division legend Nonito Donaire.
“Inoue at his best was when he fought Donaire,” Tapales said during a break in his high-altitude training camp.
“And that’s the Inoue that I expect to face in Tokyo on 26 December,” he said when asked if he got impressed by Inoue’s brutal beatdown of Stephen Fulton last July.
“No, I didn’t see the best of Inoue against Fulton… he was at his best against Donaire,” added the reigning World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion.
In that particular fight, Inoue was at his menacing and merciless, sending Donaire crashing down in the first round before almost decapitating him in the second with a vicious left hook.
And this is the reason why Tapales is going where he hasn’t been during training.
Aware that Inoue will be armed to the gills in the pursuit of becoming the undisputed champion the second time in a second weight class, Tapales insists he is raring to face off with arguably the world’s most fearsome finisher.
“He is the same as me. He’s got two hands and I have two as well. He also breathes the same air just like I do.”
But above all, Inoue has everything in his arsenal, something that cannot be attributed to Tapales, though the crafty lefty has gone to deep waters a myriad of times.
He had to pick himself up thrice from the deck in winning the WBO bantamweight crown in hostile Thailand in July 2016.
In his first defense, Tapales was stripped of the title after failing to make weight but fought as though a title was still at stake, crushing Shohei Omori in the 11th round in Osaka in April the following year.
“He’s got a lot of guts and is very brave,” Fernando Ocon, Tapales’ former trainer, said while his former fighter was working out at the Shape Up Boxing facility at the Cooyeesan Hotel along Naguillian Road here.
“While he is the underdog and up against a fearsome foe, don’t count him out. In boxing, anything can happen,” Ocon said as he rattled off some names that figured in boxing’s greatest upsets.
But Tapales is not relying on just this fact.
He is training like hell to prove that he has got what it takes to bang with the top guns.
The countdown to D-Day is under way.