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Tapales tags along bevy of personalities to fight

photograph by NICK GIONGCO for the daily tribune MARLON Tapales oozes with confidence during the hour-long journey from Yokohama to Tokyo.

TOKYO, Japan — The 17-seater vehicle that ferried Marlon Tapales to the Ariake Arena was occupied by a motley crew of personalities.

It left the Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel and Towers — the official residence of the Filipino two-belt titleholder — at exactly 3:50 p.m., a little over three hours before the colossal clash with World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization titlist Naoya Inoue.

Apart from Tapales, the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion, also on board were vital members of the entourage.

There was Sean Gibbons and sons Brendan and Parker, the family that takes care of Tapales while in the United States.

JC Mananquil, the energetic tuna magnate and fight promoter from General Santos City, was also present along with his aide-de-camp Ramon Falgui.

So was Ernel Fontanilla, Tapales’ trainer, who cared for his boxer for three months in three different locales.

A handful of other key players as well as four Manila scribes and a photographer also joined the journey that was supposed to be short but was made even longer owing to a moderate buildup as the coaster made its way in the vicinity of Haneda Airport.

The atmosphere during the 56-minute ride was light and bubbly.

One guy was glued on his Android phone, watching a telecast of a fight that was ongoing, the audio loud enough for everyone to hear.

But the commentary was in Japanese so nobody even bothered to follow what was going on and minded their own business.

Occasionally, Tapales, who occupied the first row, would burst into laughter as he was engaged in a hearty conversation with his seatmate.

It was clear that even though installed as the underdog, Tapales wasn’t acting like one.

He behaved as if he was heading to a rock concert and not being led into the lion’s den.

While Tapales was chatting, the Gibbons patriarch was on his phone speaking with a travel agent finalizing his trip back to the United States on Thursday.

There was no sense of fear and panic inside the vehicle.

Instead, a lot of excitement was in the air as everyone looked forward to the post-fight party.

As the vehicle finally reached the destination, Tapales let out something in Cebuano, its tone suggesting that victory was on hand.


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