This weekend was one that promised a lot, though had seen a couple of bouts we'd expected to be great just fail to deliver the action we'd hoped for. Thankfully however some bouts delivered. And boy did we ever get one that delivered, between two Asian fighters in the US.
Whilst Alexander Povetkin Vs Michael Hunter may end up going down as the bout of the weekend, in terms of action and drama, it was given a great run for it's money by IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title bout. A bout that saw champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑] stop Filipino Marlon Tapales (33-3, 16).
The bout saw Tapales enter as the favourite, and with Iwasa's losses all coming to southpaws you could see why people fancied the hard hitting Filipino lefty. We though the southpaw issue would prove to be a major factor in the bout as well.
What we ended up seeing however was a fantastic 2 way bout, at least in the early going, and Iwasa's finest performance to date. A performance that, like his original world title win against Yukinori Oguni, showed he had world class ability, even if we don't see it consistently.
The bout started at a great pace, and although Iwasa was typically getting the better of things, with his higher tempo and using his reach well. It was however notable that Iwasa's power was having an effect and in round 3 he dropped Tapales, for the first time in the fight. Tapales began to change tactics following the knockdown, and looked for a single punch to change the fight. It was a foolish move given he was so much shorter than Iwasa.
As the fight war on Iwasa's domination got more and more commanding and by round 10 it looked like he was going to cruise to a decision. A second knockdown in round 11 changed that though, as Iwasa dropped Tapales for the second time, with a left hand. Tapales managed to beat the count but failed to convince the referee he was fit to continue, forcing the referee to halt the bout.
Given his performance here Tapales looks about done at world level. A shame, given how good his previous world title bouts were. As for Iwasa what ever they did in training for this worked, and they need to keep with it, at times he looked brilliant, and a far cry from the listless fighter who lost to the IBF Super Bantamweight title to TJ Doheny.
In theory next in line for Iwasa is either Danny Roman or Murodjon Akhmadaliev, though it's still pretty unclear what is happening to their bout which was scheduled to take place in September before falling through due to an injury to Roman.
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.
This past weekend we all turned out attention to the US for a fight between the #1 and #2 Light Welterweights. It was billed as a special fight, and although no one expected a war, everyone expected something memorable. What we got was a bout that resembled a sparring session with Terence Crawford simply being too good for Viktor Postol in every single way.
Today, just a few days later, we had a war as Pungluang Sor Singyu (52-4, 35) [ผึ้งหลวง ส.สิงห์อยู่] battled under-rated Filipino Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12), in what was a thrilling WBO Bantamweight title fight. The Thai champion was looking to make the second defense of his title, whilst the unheralded Filipino was looking to make the most of his opportunity.
The fight started relatively evenly, and through 4 rounds there was little to separate the fighters. A judge could have had it 40-36 one way, or the other and no complaints would have been had. The two men each had their moments, and each could have impressed the judges with their particular style. For Pungluang it was as the pressure fighter attacking the body whilst Tapales was showing the better pure boxing and seemed to be landing the flashier head shots.
In round 5 the bout took a major shift with Pungluang having a break through with his body attack, sending Tapales down twice, with Tapales taking much of the count to get up. It was guts and bravery in the extreme from the Filipino who ended the round being beaten up and was very lucky the referee didn't wave the bout off. He looked spent and with another referee that would have been it.
Amazingly Tapales came out for round 6 and ended up turning the bout around in his favour hurting the Thai with a left hand before dropping him with a right hook. Although Pungluang got up from the shot he seemed to be in survivor mode and didn't seem to recover as the bell went.
Notably Pungluang didn't ever seem to fully recover, either physically or mentally, and his pressure style, with the body shots,never returned after the knockdown with the Thai preferring to try and counter punch the Filipino who was growing in confidence after the knockdown. Round 7, 8 and 9, seemed to see a hungry looking Tapales back up Pungluang, who only had select moments of success whilst the Filipino had more sustained and more notable work. It was a strange twist but it seemed like the effort to finish Tapales off at the end of round 5, and the subsequent knockdown in round 6, had left Pungluang short on confidence,
In round 10 we saw more of the same, but by now the work of Tapales was taking a growing physical effect on the Thai who seemed to try everything he could to get the juices going again. Everything he tried however failed and although he had a little bit of success in the round it seemed that his time as champion was whittling away
With in seconds of the 11th round starting Tapales had his next break through, dropping Pungluang, who failed to beat the count. The crowd silent, whilst the realisation that Tapales had become the new champion saw the Filipino and his team celebrate.
For Pungluang this loss was a painful one. He had come incredibly close to winning in round 5, he could likely taste his celebration meal, but to see Tapales pull through the torrid round seemed to mentally break the Thai who never looked the same fighter. For Tapales the heart he showed and the aggression, as well as the way he had coped with being messed around in Thailand was incredible and his will to win will make him an incredibly hard fighter to dethrone.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.