Filipino champion Marlon Tapales ended his workout on Monday afternoon cracking a couple of jokes.
“I think he’s just a bit more handsome than me,” he said of Naoya Inoue’s edge in a chat with reporters at Elorde Plus in Parañaque City.
“If he says he’s not afraid, then he’s not human. He’s a robot,” he added of his foe whom he battles behind enemy lines in Tokyo, Japan, a day after Christmas.
The World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation super bantamweight champion noticeably had loose energy in his last session before leaving for the Land of the Rising Sun, where he will try to do something that has never been done before—not even by the great Manny Pacquiao.
Tapales (37-3) will not only try to hand Inoue (25-0) his first career loss and become the first-ever Filipino undisputed champion in a clash where he is an overwhelming underdog.
His coach, Ernel Fontanilla, was quick to put his ward’s demeanor into perspective.
“As a former [boxer] myself, whenever you’re about to fight, it’s no longer your worries that crop up,” he told the Inquirer. “Now, it’s all about excitement.”
“The whole team is now excited because we’re getting a chance to show the world that we’re here. That Marlon Tapales is [here],” he added.
Betting odds have installed Tapales as a +1700 underdog versus Inoue, who is at -850.
But don’t mistake Tapales’ rather jolly spirits for complacency. He knows that he stands at the precipice of history, and he knows that he will be shooting for a kind of respect that is only given to the rarest of champions.
“Each time I am a visitor, I am an underdog. I don’t care about those odds and whatnot, because I know myself and the training and preparation I have gone through. I have confidence in myself that I am whole,” he said.
“This is important for me. I know people are saying a lot, but I don’t have to prove anything to myself,” Tapales said. “I do have something to prove to myself.”Tapales said the fight will end with one fighter down on the canvas: “It’s either him or me.” And in a clash that pits “The Monster” and “The Nightmare,” Tapales knows which one people should worry about.
“You should be worried about the one that follows you to sleep,” he told the Inquirer. INQ
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