By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA – Filipino Marlon Tapales became a world champion again after stunning previously unbeaten Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan in their World Boxing Association-International Boxing Federation (WBA-IBF) unified 122-pound battle at Boeing Center in San Antonio, Texas on Sunday (Philippine time)
Tapales survived Akhmadaliev’s late push to join Dave Apolinario and Melvin Jerusalem as the Philippines’ current world champions.
Tapales took advantage of Akhmadaliev’s slow start and landed the cleaner shots in the first half of the 12-round super bantamweight encounter.
Akhmadaliev, who is coming off a hand injury, found his rhythm late in the match and even came close to going clutch when he staggered Tapales early into Round 12 that nearly knocked the latter down.
Javier Alvarez scored the bout 118-110 for Akhmadaliev, but Sergio Caiz and Roberto Torres had it 115-113 for Tapales.
The 31-year-old Tapales, who won the World Boxing Organization bantamweight title in 2016, moved up to 37-3 win-loss while giving Akhmadaliev his first loss after beginning his professional career with 11 straight victories, including eight knockouts. (PNA)