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Tapales leaves for Osaka today for 1st title defense


By Nick Giongco


It was supposed to be a time for rest and recreation but Marlon Tapales showed up at the gym yesterday in Cebu City, appearing relaxed and looking forward to a successful defense of his World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight crown on April 23 in Osaka, Japan.

Tapales, who meets Shohei Omori at the 8,000-seat Edion Arena, didn’t do heavy work, according to his manager Wakee Salud.

“He just ran in the treadmill,” said Salud on the eve of their departure for Osaka via Philippine Airlines.

“Marlon’s ready to go…he’s ready to rumble,” said Salud, who will be joined by his wife Elvira and their son Ryan, Tapales’ mother Maria, trainers Fernando Ocon and Brix Flores, stablemate John Neil Tabanao, brothers Dodie Boy and Gerry Penalosa, Thai all-around boxing man Narong Hengtrakul, Tito Abella, Roy Jumaoas Jr. and Pacland web master Dong Secuya.

From Kansai International Airport, Team Tapales will be brought to the APA Hotel Namba Shinsaibashi where they will be billeted for one week.

Tapales was supposed to defend the title for the first time last December in Tokyo but his opponent, Takuma Inoue, got injured five weeks before the fight, forcing promoters to scrap the match.

Omori will be Tapales’s first fight since winning the WBO 118-lb title last July in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

This will be the second time Tapales and Omori will lock horns as they had met in December 2015 when the Filipino scored a second-round stoppage.

Despite his seeming mastery of Omori, Tapales is not taking him for granted, fully aware also that he will be fighting on hostile ground.

“He has improved since we’ve met so I expect him to be a much better fighter (in the rematch),” added Tapales.

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