• BOXING

    Tapales now 80 percent ready for Omori rematch

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    Defending World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales said he is now 80 percent ready for his upcoming title defense against Japanese challenger Shohei Omori on April 23 at the Edion Arena in Osaka, Japan.

    The Tubod, Lanao del Norte boxer Tapales (29-2 win-loss record with 12 knockouts) is now in the middle of his training and sparring sessions in Cebu for his upcoming rematch against Omori (18-1 record with 13 knockouts).

    “I’m not going to take my opponent lightly even if I already beat him before. In just few weeks, I’ll be 100 percent. I want to strengthen more my punching power, improve my timing and get faster,” Tapales, 24, told The Manila Times on Tuesday.

    Tapales posted a technical knockout win over Omori last December 16, 2015 in Kyoto, Japan before winning the WBO belt in Thailand last July 27 against Panya Uthok via 11th round knockout.

    But Tapales is expecting the Japanese slugger to change his style and tactics.

    “I’m sure he’ll be preparing a new technique, so I have to be ready for what he will bring that’s why I need to improve my counter-punching and attack,” he said. “I’m expecting a different Omori now.”

    After losing to Tapales in their first fight, Omori came back strong. He crushed Indonesian Sabu Espinos on April 16 last year in Kyoto, Japan, followed by a knockout victory last August 24 against Mexican Edgar Jimenez in Kyoto, Japan.

    The last victory of the 24-year-old Japanese came at the expense of Filipino Rocky Fuentes last December 31 also in Kyoto, Japan via third round knockout.

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