Tapales freed of mandatory rematch

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UNIFIED world super bantamweight king Marlon Tapales could now fully focus on either elite champions American Stephen Fulton or Japanese Naoya Inoue after he was freed of a mandatory rematch against Murodjon Akhmadaliev.

“Marlon can now focus on targeting the bigger picture ahead of him,” international matchmaker Sean Gibbons told BusinessMirror on Friday after learning that the World Boxing Aassociation lifted Tapales’s voluntary title defense against Uzbekistan’s Akhmadaliev.

Tapales captured the WBA and International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight titles after beating Akhmadaliev via split decision last April in San Antonio, Texas.

Super bantamweight champion Fulton and former undisputed world titleholder Inoue square off on July 25 at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

The WBA, through committee chairman Carlos Chavez, said that “the rematch is not feasible to do so at this time.”

Tapales (37-3 win-loss with 19 knockouts) and his camp earlier requested the WBA for a fight against either Fulton (21-0 with eight knockouts) or Inoue (24-0 with 21 knockouts) on July 25.

“This bout would be a unification of the WBA, IBF, WBC [World Boxing Council] and WBO titles which is a powerful reason to admit it for the sake of boxing,” the WBA statement said.

Fulton holds the WBO and WBC super bantamweight belts, while Inoue vacated all of the bantamweight belts—IBF, WBO, WBC and WBA—to test the super bantamweight division.

Gibbons said that the champion from Lanao del Norte’s unification bout against either Fulton or Inoue could be held later this year or early next year. Josef Ramos

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