Sean Gibbons, who manages current unified IBF & WBA super-bantamweight world champion Marlon Tapales, has confirmed that a deal for an undisputed super-bantamweight encounter with Naoya Inoue is close to being agreed.
The proposed encounter between Inoue and Tapales would allow another undisputed champion to be crowned. The year 2023 has been one of the strongest years for big, significant fights where the best respective fighters face each other for major honours.
Inoue made his mark and debut in the super-bantamweight mix with arguably the most decisive win of his career in claiming a stoppage victory over Stephen Fulton to claim WBC and WBO title glory.
Tapales, who was ringside for the encounter, called out Inoue instantly for an undisputed showdown with the Japanese sensation Inoue, which Inoue gladly accepted.
ProBox TV exclusively spoke with Gibbons at the WBO convention in the Dominican Republic ahead of the championship committee meeting and confirmed that December 26 is certainly in play for the clash of the super-bantamweight kings.
“I believe that is the date [December 26]. It is going to happen. We are just wrapping up a few details. It is not official, but any official announcements will come from Ohashi Promotions, Teiken Promotions and Top Rank. But we are very close to getting everything into place.
“It is the fight for what people want. It’s all marbles, all the belts, and the amazing thing is it took Inoue four years to become undisputed at 118lbs. He can unify all the belts in seven months at super-bantamweight. It is a quality fight, yes, Inoue is a monster, but people are underestimating Marlon Tapales.”
Gibbons gave his case for Tapales, stating that he should not be underestimated, citing that he feels his charge to implement a game plan similar to what Nonitio Donaire was able to execute in his competitive defeat to Inoue in the bantamweight final of the World Boxing Super Series in 2019.
“Taples is an experienced guy, a former world champion. He has got a good size on him, a beautiful jab and has previously boxed four times in Japan. So, he is not going to be intimidated by the prospect of fighting in Japan.
“I really believe what Donaire did to Inoue [in 2019] that Marlon can do on the same level, if not better. The key to that fight is the jab. Tapales is a southpaw and is a very disciplined fighter. Don’t get me wrong, you have to favour Inoue, one-hundred percent, but it aint going to be a walk in the park. We are no Stephen Fulton, who just ran throughout the fight with Inoue.”
Despite the reputation that Inoue has earned during his time as a professional, which is deserved considering his achievement as a four-weight world champion and undisputed at bantamweight, Gibbons revealed that there was no hesitation from Taples in aiming to secure an undisputed showdown with Inoue.
“We have decided to go down the Inoue path because he has two of the belts which Marlon wants. If anyone had the opportunity to go for the biggest and best fight out there for yourself, you take it because that is what you strive for.
“So that’s why it was never a hesitation that we wanted to fight Inoue. You got the ring belt on there too, so, in a way, you got five belts on the line. It would have been hard to tell Marlon that we were fighting our mandatory Sam Goodman instead or that we are taking a rematch with MJ [Murodjon Akhmadaliev].
“I believe in my heart of hearts that he [Tapales] has some stuff which can make it a difficult night for Inoue. He can bust Inoue up, the key to the fight is the first four rounds. Don’t get caught with anything stupid, use the jab well and bust that eye up like Donaire did and go from there.
“Fantastic, ain’t it?”