Defending World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales of Lanao del Norte will be defending his belt in March against a still undetermined challenger, according to his manager and promoter Wakee Salud.
Salud confirmed to The Manila Times during New Year that he is considering anyone among the three possible opponents from Japan and one from England, but he is still reviewing all the offers before making his final decision probably next week.
“There are so many offers but we haven’t decided yet who’s to fight in March. Maybe next week there is a final decision,” Salud told The Times via phone interview. “But I assure you that Marlon (Tapales) is still in good condition because he always trains hard since last year.
He said there is an offer to face Japanese knockout artist Ryo Matsumoto (17-1 win-loss record with 15 knockout), Shohei Omori and Takuma Inouie and Briton Ryan Burnette.
Tapales, 24, surprised the boxing world as he scored an 11th round technical knockout win against Thailand’s Pungluang Sor Singyu last July 27 to seize the WBO belt in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Despite fighting in a hostile crowd, Tapales proved himself as a true warrior.
Salud also said Tapales had a scheduled fight against Takuma Inouie last December 30 in Tokyo, Japan, but that fight didn’t go as schedule because Inouie suffered an injury during training.
“It was very frustrating that fight was postponed but we couldn’t do anything because his opponent got injured,” added. Salud. “We just have to wait until March. Marlon’s first title defense will be outside the country.”
Tapales (29-2 win-loss record with 12 knockouts) is one of the Filipino world champions headed by Manny Pacquiao (WBO welterweight), Jerwin Ancajas (International Boxing Federation super flyweight) and Milan Melindo (IBF light flyweight).
Johnriel Casimero just vacated the IBF flyweight belt recently and moved up to the super flyweight division.