Just moments ago Japanese fans had the chance to see a WBO Bantamweight title eliminator as Kyoto star Shohei Omori (15-1, 10) took on Filipino visitor Marlon Tapales (28-2, 11). The bout was viewed by many in Japan as the next logical step for Omori before going on to become the next great Japanese Bantamweigth fighter, following in the footsteps of Fighting Harada, Hozumi Hasegawa and current star Shinsuke Yamanaka. Sadly for Omori and those fans, the bout was instead a very rude wake up call, and a serious statement from Tapales.
The Filipino under-dog, who had made his name fighting at 112lb and 115lbs, had been riding a 6 fight winning steak, though had beaten some very limited fighters during that run, whilst the unbeaten Omori was beginning to look like a sensation, stopping the likes of Cristian Esquiviel, Kenataro Masuda and Hirofumi Mukai. That however didn't matter as Tapales made Omori pay for his wide short, dropping him very early in the bout,
Omori showed the Japanese fighting spriit but seemed unable to ever compose himself, and was down again and then again. By the end of the first round he had been down 3 times. With no 3 knockdown rule in effect Omori was allowed to continue, though it seemed like he had no answer for Tapales's right hook, which had used perfectly as a counter and was damaging every time it landed.
It was again the right hook that that effective in round 6 as Tapales dropped Omori for a 4th time. This time was one too many and the referee stopped the bout, the correct decision given that Omori was looking like a man who had no idea how to cope with the Filipino fighter.
For Omori this is a huge set back, though at 22 he will likely be able to rebuild, and a move to 122lbs seems very likely given his natural size. For Tapalese however there is more pressing issues on his mind, and he will now face the winner of the upcoming WBO Bantamweight title bout between Pungluang Sor Singyu and Jetro Pabustan, who meet in January. This win will have filled Tapales with a lot of confidence, but is just another name a record that already includes wins over Randy Petalcorin and Warlito Parrenas. A performance like this really should give Tapales the belief that he will become a world champion in the near future.
Notably the result does end a terrible year for Japanese Bantamweights with losses also coming in major bouts for Ryosuke Iwasa, Tomoki Kameda and Ryo Akaho whilst Shinsuke Yamanaka's reign as champion has been questioned following his narrow win over Anselmo Moreno. There is of course still a bout for Ryo Matsumoto before 2016 though he is being viewed as a man who has been matched lightly in a stay busy fight, and not a major bout.
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