In late 2015 Filipino slugger Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13) travelled to Japan and blitzed the fast rising Shohei Omori (18-2, 13) [大森 将平] in two thoroughly one sided rounds. Following that win Tapales went on to win the WBO Bantamweight title in a thriller with Pungluang Sor Singyu in Thailand.
A return bout between Tapales and Omori was made as Tapales' first defense of the title, though unfortunately the Filipino was unable to make weight, forcing the title to become vacant, though the bout went ahead as planned early today. A win for Omori would have seen him become the new champion, with any other result leaving the title vacant.
Having been blasted out in 2 rounds last time, and dropped 3 times in the opening round, it was clear that Omori would be more catious this time and that showed as he looked to establish his jab and keep himself away from Tapales' power. Despite the intelligent game plan it didn't prevent Tapales from applying pressure, which he did excellently in rounds 2 and 3.
Given Tapales struggled to make weight it was clear that Omori was trying to see off the early storm without taking much in terms of damaging shots. In round 4, with Tapales slowing, Omori began to up his own output and upped it again in round 5 as he clearly hurt the Filipino with a series of body shots, clearly aware that body shots had twice dropped Tapales against Pungluang. The Filipino however saw off the storm and came back in round 6, with Omori backing up through the round.
Omori tried to take control in round 7, launching a huge assault at the start of the round. He had Tapales in all sorts of trouble but the tough Filipino rode out the storm and ended the round the better fighter, with both men looking like they had taken a huge amount out of each other.
In round 8 and 9 both men looked physically exhausted and neither had more the flashes of success, with both visibly worn out from the war that they'd had. From then on it seemed like a case that we were either going to the judges, or the fight would change on a single moment. That moment came late in round 10, when Tapales landed a thunderbolt of an uppercut that dropped Omori. The Japanese fighter recovered to his feet but looked gone, with the referee seemingly buying him a few extra seconds to recover. Those few extra seconds helped Omori get through the round, just, but didn't give him nearly enough time to get his wits.
At the start of round 11 Tapales rushed out to a still shaken Omori and unloaded, forcing the referee to end the bout just 16 seconds into the round.
For now the the title is technically vacant, however Zolani Tete won the interim title yesterday, beating Filipino Arthur Villanueva, an dis likely to be upgraded as the whole WBO Bantamweight title scene gets a weekend of huge shake ups. The champion lost his belt, the #1 and #6 ranked fighters both lost and the previously #2 ranked Tete becomes the champion. In theory it opens the door for #3 ranked Omar Narvaez to get a shot, and potentially for Naoya Inoue to move up later in the year for a shot at becoming a 3-weight champion.
World Title Results
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